Raising a family is an expensive endeavor. While you are trying to pay for all of your normal living expenses, you may also be focused on trying to save for the kids’ college education funds, retirement and more. It may feel as though you are hemorrhaging money at times, but the good news is that there are a few steps that you can take to reduce your expenses regularly without cramping your lifestyle.
Spend Time Outdoors
You understandably want your family to share wonderful memories together, but you do not need to head to the bowling alley, laser tag center or movie theater for a good time. When weather permits, head out to the local park for an afternoon of family fun. You can also hike at a state park nearby, go swimming in a lake or river or enjoy other outdoor activities that may be very affordable. When the weather is not as nice, you can enjoy a family game day, a movie night at home or other indoor activities.
Create a Meal Plan
Feeding your family healthy, balanced meals is essential, but you need to find a way to do so on a dime. Many families go out to eat very frequently. The problem with this is that restaurant food is typically not as healthy as what you may eat at home. More than that, it can be much more expensive. Remember that a typical family can stock their fridge for a week with $150 to $200. Think about how many restaurant meals you could purchase with this same amount. You may be more inclined to stop at restaurants when you do not have a meal plan prepared and food sitting in your kitchen waiting for you to prepare it. Make a meal plan each week, and purchase everything ahead of time. To make eating at home a fun experience, ask your kids to pitch in and help with meal prep in different ways.
Consider Pre-Owned Items
It is not reasonable to raise children without needing to purchase numerous items on a regular basis. For example, you may need to purchase clothes, shoes, sports equipment, an instrument for the school band and more. In some cases, you will need to purchase brand new items. When this is the case, always look for sales or clearance items. You also should consider buying pre-owned items when possible. Your focus should typically be on finding quality items first. Remember that quality items may last and give you many more months or years of use than cheap items. However, you may be able to find quality pre-owned items that offer true value.
Drive Your Car for Many Years
One of your most expensive budget items may be your car. Remember that your auto expense includes your monthly car loan payment, auto insurance, fuel, repairs and maintenance. When you opt to drive your current car for a longer period of time, you can potentially enjoy driving for several years or longer without a car payment. During this time, you can save money to pay cash for your next vehicle. This eliminates the need to take out another car loan. Remember that a new car purchase affects may vehicle-related expenses. Focus on finding the most affordable vehicle to drive that meets your needs. A vehicle is primarily a method of transportation and should not be viewed as a status symbol. It simply needs to serve its primary purpose of getting your family around town as needed in a safe manner.
These are only a few of the many ways that families can save money in the months and years to come. Many families spend much more than they need to on various expenses. Some expenses can be eliminated altogether, and others can be scaled down to a more manageable level. Focus on being frugal without making your lives uncomfortable and boring. Use these ideas to get started, and you can also brainstorm other thoughtful ways to trim your expenses.