With the way the economy has been going, there certainly is no shortage of advice on ways to save money with children. Whether it’s frugal grocery tips or how to succeed at shopping yard sales, a simple internet search is sure to bring up a ton of ideas.
But in my experience, it’s the lesser known and more unique ideas that can save the most dollars. If your family budget gets tighter as your family grows larger, consider these ideas to keep your finances in check and your little ones entertained.
Skip paying for activities. Baseball, football, dance, soccer. There is no shortage of activities for children of all ages to get involved in and, as parents we want them to gain as many experiences as they can. But when you start adding more children to the mix, those price tags grow rapidly, especially when you figure in the many seasonal activities.
Instead of signing all your little ones up for their favorite events, try searching for free alternatives. This could range from a local group getting together for some baseball (even if you start one yourself) to simple backyard fun with the family.
Most parents want their children to gain all the skills that come from group activities, but there is no reason these need to come with a hefty price tag. Socializing with other children doesn’t have to cost money, and learning the rules of a game can be done anywhere without the fancy equipment.
So take a step back in time and toss together a fun neighborhood game of kick the can or whip up your own makeshift goals for a fun lesson in soccer. A little old fashioned fun turns into a major financial savings.
Craft your own crafts. A few minutes on Pinterest and one can rack up quite the list of crafty ideas for their children. But these arts and crafts can also rack up quite a bill. From popsicle sticks and beads to basic glue and paper, a Dollar Store trip can turn into $30 before you know it. Only to turn around and have it all be used up in an afternoon.
Instead of heading to the store for the next art project, look at all the free items nature has to offer. Pulling pine needles off of trees, looking for colorful and unique leaves, ripping apart flowers and even mixing up some mud glue. Tree bark can make a beautiful canvas as can some free paper or plastic bags from the grocery store.
A little unorthodox thinking and your craft bill can turn to zero without losing any of the creative fun.
Cut out the shows. This isn’t the “cut the cable and switch to Netflix” kind of advice. Instead, think about taking it one step further. No more cable or satellite, no more Netflix and no more RedBox. Instead, hit the yard sales and second-hand stores where you can purchase a variety of shows and movies for the same amount or less than you can rent them. If possible, find a super cheap VCR and the price of all those movies gets cut by more than half. Look into new-to-you movies instead of going for the latest releases.
Also, turn to your local library. Even if the shelves are not well-stocked on films in your area, you can always request certain movies and series to be ordered. Many don’t know but most libraries are able to offer just about any movie or television series that is based on a book. Ask them about a website where you can browse your options and see what you can get.
So many budgets are blown out of the water in an attempt to entertain our children and ourselves, but with a little thinking outside the box, serious dollars can be saved without the feeling of sacrifice. Consider your favorite activities and think of how you can do them for almost nothing. The possibilities are endless!