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Oh my goodness just how expensive are kids?
So expensive that at times it makes my eyes water.
As a first time mum I was a total sucker for buying huge amounts of new stuff that cost an arm and a leg and lasted less than a month.
Somewhere along the line reality took hold and I’ve found there are loads of creative ways to save money whilst having a great time with your kids.
As a result I’ve put together a list of 50 money saving tips for mums.
Tips that have really worked for me.
Money Saving Tips For Mums
Walk, Walk, Walk!
- Walking everywhere you can will save you money on petrol & public transport
- Plus it’s a brilliant form of exercise that will let you save on all those gym fees
- Kids bikes and scooters aren’t cheap but if you get them into the habit of getting places under their own steam from early on you will save a fortune ferrying them around when they are older
Get a Flask
- Many days I can’t get through motherhood without a coffee or three. But at $2+ a shot when you’re out, it’s an expensive habit … just one a day is $10 a week, $40 a week, $500 a year! … get a flask and you’ve got coffee for the day wherever you are.
- I adore the Corkcicle range of thermal flasks and canteens. They’re not the cheapest, but they’re super chic, so you get that ‘treat’ feeling every time you have your coffee. This is the one I have, in Waterman Seafoam
Who Needs Toys?
- We spend huge quantities on toys and fancy activities when kids are never happier than when splodging paint on a cardboard box or bashing around some quick play dough made with the cheapest flour you can find.
- And unless it’s tipping it down poking around in the mud in the garden with a stick takes some beating particularly if you’re allowed to take your shoes off … and if you find them a few snails or worms to torment, they’ll even let you get on with the gardening for a bit 🙂
Forget Fancy Trips
- When you’re small the zoo is incredibly exciting, but so are the bin men, diggers, buses, trains and the lady in the launderette. When you’re going slightly stir crazy watching the diggers AGAIN just remember how much you saved on the zoo, the aquarium etc
- Theatre trips can be good … sometimes … but your kids and the neighbours will love it much more if you and the other parents dress up and put on a show. We used to regularly torture my parents with this and one year made them put on a show for us every month – we kids adored it!
Coupons & Deals
- I confess I have not yet mastered coupons but I know so many people who do save a bundle with them and there are now so many great coupon and deal sites that do all the hard work of organising them for you, so this is definitely on my list of must dos for 2014
- At the rate kids grow it makes no sense to buy loads of new clothes … let your friends know your completely open to their hand me downs & spread the love by passing on your own. Older kids may be more sensitive about it but my 3 year old is always proud as punch when she gets clothes from the “big girls”.
- Check out consignment shops and on-line services they can be a bit hit and miss but you can get lucky with some great quality clothes … and you may be able to get money for your own
- I’ve given up selling children’s clothes on eBay as I would end up with only a few pounds for gorgeous clothes we’d be given as gifts … I’d much rather now give them to a friend or a charity shop but you can buy huge bags of great quality, hardly worn stuff for under $10.
- If you haven’t got friends with kids a year or so older than yours ask your ante-natal class to put you in touch with people from a class 1 to 2 years before yours and let them know you’re open to hand me downs.
- You may want to buy proper shoes with width fittings new but wellies, crocs etc that don’t come in widths can easily be shared and shared again … some on our street are on to their fourth proud owner!
Tell People What You Want
- I know some people are uncomfortable with this but if you don’t let people know what your kids “need”, your whole house will be taken over by teddies and other toys your child never plays with – make it easy for friends and family and create a wish list on e.g. Amazon.
- There are a few things that it really is better to buy new if you can – e.g. car seats, mattresses, filled bedding, proper shoes – but boy these can be expensive! For the really expensive stuff ask people to give you vouchers or make a contribution towards the cost.
- If you’ve got grand-parents or god-parents that can help out a bit create a family ritual around something they buy each year such as new shoes – make it an expedition, take photos.
- If you haven’t tried it yet, check out Free Cycle where you can offer stuff you want to get rid of but also post what you’re after – post your whole baby list up there and see if you get lucky.
Have a Bake Club
- Kids love cookies but luckily they also love baking. Have regular “bake club” play dates with friends and cook enough for all the families rather than paying silly prices in the shops.
Go To the Park in the Rain!
- Unless it’s really pouring down, forget forking out for soft play or some other pricey inside activity just head for the park – you’ll have the playground to yourself and your kids will love you for ever if you let them wade in puddles without their wellies!
- I know, I know you hated your mum for buying stuff too big for you when you were a kid but at the rate kids grow it has to be done and trouser turn ups are cool, you can hem dresses in no time and invisible tucks in sleeves stop them from having to be rolled up.
- My friend Margaret thinks it’s hysterical that I check the size of hems on children’s clothes but great hems that can be let out can give you another year’s wear out of clothes.
Love Your Library
- Raise your own little book worms by taking them to the library from when they’re tiny – you’ll save money and space by borrowing rather than buying books.
- And most libraries have loads of free baby & children activities from story time to puppet making.
- And if you’re lucky they may still have a toy library.
- And if you’re really lucky they may even organise a costume swap.
- Plus getting kids into the weekly habit of borrowing rather than “having” may help to make them much thriftier as they grow up … maybe …
- Have you noticed how much more kids love their friends toys than their own? Stave off boredom with their own stuff and demands for more with regular toy swaps …
- And book swaps …
- And costume swaps …
- And DVD swaps …
- All of which will hopefully build a really positive attitude towards sharing
- And don’t stop with the kids, swap your own books, DVDs or even clothes.
Do Less Laundry … Hurrah!
- The cost of keeping your kids in vaguely clean clothes really adds up … think of all those pricey laundry liquids & fabric conditioners & electricity for the washing machine & the drier … so doing less can really save you money. We’ve got into the habit of completely clean clothes every day when often if they’re given a quick brush and hung up they can be worn again.
- Obviously you have got to wash sometimes and if you get into a laundry routine it’s easier to make sure you have regular full loads that will wash better & be more economical.
- Whenever you can dry your clothes outside to save on costs of running the drier.
- Don’t iron unless you really have to … just hang straight up off the line … as irons actually use up a fair whack of electricity.
Buy Great Brands Second Hand and Sell Them On
- Some of the most coveted big ticket baby items e.g. buggies anc big item toys are brilliant quality and will last and last and keep their value. So if you buy great brands in good condition second hand and look after them you’ll be able to sell on again at a good price
- If you’ve got a great local friend or trusted friend of a friend with a child of a similar age – consider doing a day each of childcare. You must check out legal implications in your area of doing this but if you can make it work you could each be saving hundreds of $s/£s a month.
- If your kids are at school share “breakfast” and “after school” club duties e.g. do alternate days or one mum do mornings and another mum do evenings so one of you gets an early start to work and the other gets a late finish.
- Start a local baby sitting rota with your friends so that each mum / couple get one off out a week.
- Have grandma stay a couple of days a week … it’s not an option for everyone and you have to be careful not to abuse it but grandma may be willing or even overjoyed to come and stay and provide a few days childcare a week.
Barter Your Stuff
- I don’t have a tumble drier which makes laundering duvets, pillows etc incredibly expensive. But I do have friends who do have a drier and who would love to borrow my sewing machine, strimmer, scanner etc. Informal bartering of expensive equipment between friends can save heaps.
Mums Shopping Clubs
- These have been around for ages and the idea is that by committing to a basic subscription you get all sorts of discounts and deals. You do really need to look into the fine print on these but there are some big name clubs out there e.g. Amazon Family which really can save you money
- In a similar vein you can trade skills. Whatever you’re good at, whether its cutting hair, manicures, doing massage, sewing well, taking photos, creating a blog, you can almost certainly trade it with friends and friends of friends for something you would otherwise have to pay for.
Organise Your Own
- When my daughter was born I couldn’t believe I was expected to cough up £10/$15 an hour for my daughter to bash a tambourine (aka baby music class) or roll around (aka baby gym!). Have we lost leave of our senses? Baby will be just as happy bashing a tambourine and singing the wheels on the bus in our front rooms with a bunch of other babies we know.
- And you don’t have to stop with the odd hour. In the 1960s and 70s tens of thousands of UK mums (including mine) started their own play groups from scratch in church halls etc and they were brilliant. You might want to keep it very small but group together with other mums e.g. from ante-natal groups and each take responsibility for organising some of the play.
Get A Gang Together To Go Foraging
- Nothing tastes as good as foraged fruit and if you pick big buckets of free berries and more and freeze or preserve them they’ll keep you going throughout the winter. But it can be a lot of work if you’ve got a lot of different fruit. If you go with a couple of other families it will be loads of fun and you can divide responsibility for preserving the different types of fruit between the families.
Be A Brand “Whore”
- There are some products I am very, very loyal to. But there’s lots of stuff in the weekly shop that is much of a muchness and one of the brands in almost every product line will almost always be on offer. I found I could easily save over 25% on my weekly shop by always buying the brand on offer.
Share BOGOF Offers on Fresh Food
- Those buy one get one free deals on fruit and dairy are often not worth it .. it’s not stuff you want to freeze but your family can’t eat it all before its goes off. Get into the habit of sharing shopping with friends to make the most of these deals and you both save money.
Share Bulk Buy Deals on Big Storage Items
- Similarly, there always seem to be great deals on big stuff like loo paper, washing powder and booze that you may not have room to store … divided up between a bunch of friends you can save loads by bulk buying.
Club Together to Buy Services
- If there is stuff that you and your neighbours can’t easily do yourself like window cleaning, negotiate you all a discount by getting them to come and do everybody in one go.
Just Use Less
- Cleaning stuff and toiletries always account for a big chunk of our weekly shop. You can definitely save money by using cheap green alternatives such as vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. And you can save even more by just using less of everything … it’s very easy to make everything last a lot longer by using a little less each time. Plus I found with things like fabric conditioner this actually gave much better results.
Make Your Own Gifts
- Until they are well into their teens, kids give you the perfect excuse for giving everyone incredibly frugal home made gifts …
- Pots of bulbs always go down well at Christmas … (get them in the beginning of October) … and can also serve at the same time as a great nature product for the kids whilst they’re growing them
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