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Are you a parent desperate for frugal living tips? If you’re feeling like you’re going to drowned in the abyss of parenting costs, this one’s for you.
Whether it’s childcare or fees for extracurricular activities, sometimes parenting can feel expensive. Before kids you only had yourself (and your spouse) to worry about, but now you’ve got diapers, childcare, kids clothing, baby food, children’s entertainment, and the rest of it on your radar.
As expensive as parenting can be, us parents can often go about our daily lives spending more than we need to when there’s so many easy things we can do to save on costs, we’re just simply overlooking them.
Do you want to save more money? Yes. Yes you do.
It’s time to get creative and intentional, taking an honest look at our parenting habits. There are things you can do now that will save you money today.
So, why not give the list below an honest look, and take as many frugal living tips for parents to action as you can.
Frugal Living Tips for Parents
Parenting can be expensive, but it can also be pretty cheap. While some areas are worth stretching your budget (i.e. clean & clear diapers, organic formula, etc.), other areas? Not so much. Here are a few frugal living tips that can save you money now!
1. Only Buy the Necessities
It’s so tempting (especially with your first) to want to get any and every gadget and product under the sun. But once baby comes you’ll soon realize you don’t need much and your baby? They have their own opinion, too.
When I was pregnant with my first, we got so many things at his baby shower. Fast forward and it turned out he didn’t even like half the things we had received for him (when it came to toys, he preferred the remote, pots and pans, and spatulas). Most things (in brand new condition) ultimately got shipped off to Goodwill, or given away to friends. What I learned? Stick to the necessities.
Whether you have a big support system or not, take it from someone who had it all and then some for baby. Don’t do it! Save your money and stick to the basics.
2. Buy Used
I’m not sure whether you have an issue with hand-me-downs, but if you do, get over it. Buying used will save you hundreds of dollars on baby’s stuff!
If you feel weird about using hand-me-downs from people you don’t know, consider asking family and friends with kids a bit older than yours to keep you in mind when they’re getting rid of stuff.
I personally love platforms like Facebook Marketplace to purchase used baby products. I once purchased a brand new, still in the box baby carrier (that retails for $160 at the store) for only $45 — talk about a steal! There are so many used products you can find at affordable prices and in great condition.
Ultimately, you can save some serious cash by skipping the big box store (sorry Target lovers) and buying used.
3. Consider Staying Home
Have you ever considered comparing the cost of childcare to staying at home with your little one(s)? With childcare costs being super expensive these days, you might actually CUT your expenses by staying home.
When you consider that full-time childcare costs on average between $900 and $1,500 per month per child. That’s a whole lot of cash.
So, for instance, if you work and bring home about $2,000/month of income, but full-time child care costs you $1,000/month for each of your two children, plus about $350/month for commuting costs, staying home will actually save you money.
When I was pregnant, I decided I didn’t want to pay someone else half of my salary to raise my son. So, I busted my butt and found a work from home job that paid the difference. If we could afford paying half of my salary to childcare, then we could afford me staying home and only bringing in half of my salary. Perhaps if you do the calculations, that may be true for you, too.
4. Use Cloth Diapers
While using cloth diapers can be a ton of work, using them can save you upwards of $1,000 or more every year. Not only can it save you money, but cloth diapers are free of all the yucky chemicals normal disposable diapers (non-organic/non-free and clear) have. Utilizing cloth diapers can help prevent your little one from being exposed to things like bleach, unnatural synthetic fragrances, etc.
5. Make Baby’s Food
Making your own baby food can save you hundreds of dollars every year, which can help curb costs for baby. Like cloth diapers, making your own food can keep you fully aware of what your baby is being exposed to. Lots of store bought, pre-made baby food contain preservatives, pesticides, unnatural coloring and flavors.
When you make your own baby food you can ensure your baby is getting real, whole foods with the least amount of chemical exposure, all while saving hundreds every year!
6. Establish a Babysitting Group
If you don’t have family nearby who can watch your kids for free, paid babysitters are often the go-to.
Instead of paying someone you don’t know to watch your kids, establish a partnership with another mom friend (or a group of moms) and commit to help one another with babysitting for free. The concept is based on the idea of creating a win-win situation — they scratch your back and you scratch theirs.
7. Follow the Four Gift Rule
As tempting as it is to shower your children with gifts for birthdays and holidays, you can save money by following the Four Gift Rule.
The Four Gift Rule is where you limit the number of gifts you get for your kids, on their birthdays and during the holidays, to four gifts each. The point is to get them something they need, something they want, something to wear and something to read.
By sticking to this rule (and setting a reasonable budget for it) you not only save money, but you teach your children a valuable lesson, that birthdays and holidays are about far more than what we receive.
8. Limit Extracurricular Activities
If you have more than one child, you know the whirlwind life can become when they’re both involved in multiple extracurricular activities throughout the year. It can begin to become expensive and time consuming.
While extracurricular activities, like sports, art, or clubs, are awesome for kids, it may be causing more financial and personal stress than necessary. If you’re going broke, or using credit to maintain your child’s activities, things have gone a bit too far.
Save yourself time (and your sanity) by limiting each child to one extracurricular activity a year (ideally the one they love the most). Of course there are always exceptions (for instance if they’re involved in extracurricular activities that are free and not as time consuming,) so use your discretion.
9. Reconsider Birthday Parties
While there can be a lot of perceived peer pressure to put on an Instagram-able birthday party for your kids every year, you can choose to go another route. Rather than breaking the bank, think small and get creative.
You can have a small and intimate birthday party, inviting only family and your kid’s closest friends. You can have a birthday party at the park, requiring limited decorations and you make it a potluck! If you choose to opt-out of having an official birthday party for your kids, that’s fine, too (you’re still an amazing parent).
Just know, that ultimately your kids can be acknowledged, celebrated and shown love without throwing a break-the-bank birthday party. You have permission to go another route this year.
10. Choose FREE
There are so many FREE and fun activities that take place every year across the country, and in nearly every city. Skip the overpriced movies and expensive amusement parks, and get outside, have a picnic, go on a hike, do something new, visit your public library, and connect with your kids.
Check your local listings and public library to discover free activities taking place near you!
At the end of the day, what our children truly desire is us. They want our love, our attention, our approval, and our support. They could go their whole lives without a huge birthday party, or the newest phone and they’ll come out fine, as long as they have you.
So, stop putting so much pressure on yourself, stop putting so much attention on the things that (in the end) don’t even matter. Instead, choose to be present with your kids, be intentional and give them a good example of proper money management.
Put these 10 frugal living tips to action and save on costs (and enjoy your children all the more in the process). Parenting can be hard at times, but it never needs to be a financial burden.