Care.com

Lauren B. Stevens @LaurenBS

10 Money-Saving Hacks for Parents

A penny saved is a college education earned, or something like that. Try these money-saving hacks to save up for your next family vacation or put towards your children's college fund.

Having children can greatly affect your household finances, but it doesn't have to drive you to the poorhouse. If you find yourself struggling to find extra funds for a family trip, or you're looking to add even more to your savings, try these money-saving hacks:
 

  1. Use Cloth Instead of Disposable Diapers
    Cloth diapering is relatively easy and can save you -- and Mother Earth -- plenty of green. If you're not sure you want to commit, try using them only on evenings and weekends. If you want to save even more, consider using cloth wipes in lieu of disposable wipes. Need tips on washing your cloth diapers? Check out Quick Tips for Washing Cloth Diapers.


     
  2. Make Your Own Baby Food
    Let's face it, baby food is expensive, as are those handy pouches they come in these days. Spend a couple of hours over the weekend making your own purees and freezing them in an ice-cube tray to make smaller portions for younger babies. For older babies, consider purchasing reusable food pouches and filling them with your own purees or apple sauce purchased by the jar. Better yet, feed your baby what you're eating for dinner -- just make sure to separate her portion before adding spices.


     
  3. Plan Your Meals Around the Weekly Store Circular
    A great way to save on your grocery spending is to create a meal plan using the meats and produce that are on sale. For more tips, read on to Grocery Shopping on a Budget.


     
  4. Order Groceries Online
    If items you don't need tend to find their way into your grocery cart, shop online. Many grocery stores now offer customers the ability to shop online and pick up their orders at the store, and some even deliver. Shopping online can help you stick to your list and your grocery budget.


     
  5. Shop Children's Consignment Sales
    Not only are the clothing, toys and baby gear sold at consignment sales in excellent condition (they have to be in order to be sold), they're often priced at 50 to 70 percent off retail. The range of items you can purchase gently used at children's consignment sales is immense -- including books, DVDs, puzzles and maternity wear. This is one money-saving hack you must check out. Not only can you save money shopping at children's consignment sales, but you can earn money by consigning your children's outgrown clothing and toys.
     
  6. Buy Gifts Year-Round
    After-holiday sales are a great time to pick up toys and other gifts at steep discounts. Plan ahead, and you can create a gift closet for birthdays throughout the year. If you're shopping for children's birthday parties, be sure to set a budget (say, five to 10 dollars) and stick to it.


     
  7. Utilize Your Public Library
    Not only can you check out books for the entire family, but you can often check out DVDs for family movie nights at little to no cost. Most public libraries also offer a range of free activities for children, so be sure to take a look at your local library's event calendar.


     
  8. Plan Vacations During Off-Peak Times
    If you have children under school age, you can save big by booking your beach vacation before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Planning a Florida trip during the summer will be hot, but you'll save by heading there in the off-peak season.


     
  9. Keep a Change Jar
    If you're not already keeping a change jar, or a piggy bank for your kids, you need to get started. Not only are you teaching your children a lesson about saving, you're also amassing some serious coin -- you'll be amazed by how much you can save in a year. It's perfect for a special family treat.


     
  10. Eat In
    Save meals out for special times, or limit eating out to once a month. Substitute a family pizza or taco night for your weekend meal out and have everyone pitch in. Not only are you spending quality time as a family, you're saving money while you're doing it.


With careful planning, a little creativity and these money-saving hacks, your family will be able to save a little money for the important things. How does your family save money? Tell us in the comments!

Lauren B. Stevens prides herself on the many ways she's learned to cut back on household expenses. She's a children's consignment connoisseur who's been able to pad her son's college fund by reselling his cloth diapers, baby gear and outgrown clothing.