9 Indispensable Money-Saving Tips For Moms
By Maria Lalonde for U.S. News & World Report
Frugal moms know that a family doesn't have to spend a lot to live well.
Even with violin practice to pay for, new clothes to budget in and widely attended birthday parties to throw, moms can keep finances in order with resourcefulness and strategy. We've collected tips from frugal moms on saving money without skimping on the things that matter. Whether you're new to the frugal mom game or a lifelong saver, check out these tips to learn new ways to save your family money.
1. Create A Budget
If you're a savvy mom, you might already be on top of this. Good for you! Feel free to skip on to the next tip.
For the rest of us: it may sound cliché and unglamorous, but creating a budget is probably the most important step in taking full rein of your finances. To begin, make a list of your family's financial goals. For instance, aim to save up for a family vacation, to save for college or to save up for holiday gifts.
Next, make a plan of action by identifying your income and expenses for the month. Subtract the amount you owe for essential payments like mortgage payments, utility bills, car payments and the like. Next, make a decision on how you will divvy up the remainder of the money -- for example, you may want to allot a certain amount of money for entertainment, extracurricular activities, restaurants, etc.
2. Map Out Menu Plans For The Week
For busy moms, planning a menu at the beginning of the week can help save time and money. Start by mapping out your meals for the rest of the week, and then make a grocery list of the items you will need. Buy in bulk whenever you can, and stick to your grocery list to avoid impulse purchases. Do all your cooking at the top of the week, and then freeze your meals to be eaten throughout the next seven days.
3. Keep An Eye Out For Sales
Check grocery store circulars and websites to figure out what's on sale and plan your meals accordingly. Join the loyalty club at grocery stores you frequent to take advantage of exclusive deals and earn rewards. You can even download grocery shopping apps like Weekly Ads & Sales or Grocery IQ, which alert you of current coupons for major grocery stores.
4. Hunt Down Online Coupons And Promo Codes
You can find coupons for everything from cookware to clothing to toys on the internet. Check out coupon and deal sites that feature special offers, deals, and promo codes in hundreds of categories for thousands of your favorite stores.
5. Don't Fear Generics
In many situations, generic products equal their name-brand counterparts in quality. To save money, go generic with dry goods like baking powder, sugar and spices, as well as dairy products and produce. Other products to buy generic include cleaning products, over-the-counter meds, beauty products and diapers.
6. Seek Out Free Fun
Why shell out for entertainment when there's an abundance of free fun to be had in your town? Look for free activities and family events listed in your newspaper, or check your local library for info on playtime and story hour.
7. Dine Out Smart
There's nothing like sharing a home-cooked meal. You can save money, eat healthier and spend time together as a family. But there's also nothing wrong with splurging on a restaurant every now and then. When you do dine out, take advantage of the "kids-eat-free days" offered by numerous major chains. Kids-eat-free days fall on Tuesdays at many nationwide restaurants, including Applebee's, Chevys, T.G.I. Fridays, and Denny's.
8. Look For Yard Sales
Yard sales can be a treasure trove of name-brand clothing, toys and more. It's often a good strategy to visit sales at the end of the day, when garage sale hosts become increasingly eager to clear out merchandise. Try combing purchases to score a better deal.
9. Promote An Eco-Friendly Lifestyle
Leading an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn't just protect the earth -- it saves you money. Use cloth napkins and reusable water bottles rather than disposable alternatives. Swap out traditional light bulbs for compact florescent lights, which use around 30 percent less energy and can last 10 times longer. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees to save up to 10 percent on your heating bill. Save on water by installing a low-flow shower head and encouraging your family to take shorter showers -- five minutes is all you really need. Your family should also get in the habit of turning off lights whenever anyone leaves a room, which will save energy and cut down your energy bill.
Maria Lalonde honed her deal-hunting skills while traveling through South America and Southeast Asia, combing colorful local markets for unique finds. Her love of blogging and thirst for deals brought her to Offers.com, where she blogs about savings tips.