8 Money-Saving Tips for Big Families
No matter how much money you make or what the size of your family things can get a little tight, but when you have a big family it can seem almost impossible to get everything done with what you have. While there are hundreds of books and articles on how to financially plan for and support a large family, weeding through the sandbox of ideas to find the few shiny gems might take more time than it is worth for most people. Hey, you have a big family and you’re busy right?
These 8 tips are the best of the best, easy to implement and hard to mess up ways to save money when you have a big family.
1. Don’t buy what you can borrow
It pays off to form a network of other parents with kids older and younger than your own, share what you can of durable items and even clothes, passing them from the oldest down, and when you’re done, pass them to another family to use. Kids grow and change so fast that most sporting goods, clothes, and other items can be passed down for a while before they are all used up. For example, many dance schools will trade out tap shoes for students but you have to donate them back to the stash when your kid outgrows them.
2. Shop smart
When you do have to buy things make sure that you’re not buying on impulse as much as possible. That means planning out your grocery list and sticking to it, as much as looking for sales on staple ingredients to stock up when you can, and cooking to the sale, so if chicken is cheap this week, buy as much as you can and either freeze it directly or cook some freezer meals with it. When it comes to buying clothes, buy off-season if possible, buy a few sizes larger coats at the end of winter, stock up on shorts in the early fall. Anything that you can buy on sale is better than buying it at full price if you can avoid it. Remember to check prices, just because something is 30% off doesn’t mean it’s a good deal if it’s cheaper at retail price at another store. Spend money where it counts if you’re buying something you’ll need for years and years seek out the best long lasting type of that thing and work it into your budget. Don’t be afraid to shop thrift stores for odds and ends as this can be a great way to get those extras for a fair price.
3. Make a sensible budget
While it can be tempting to claim full austerity when writing your budget, having a place for every penny and cutting spending in all categories it’s not often realistic. While it is important to spend less than you make and have an emergency fund available, it’s also important to be realistic. Don’t, for example, make a budget with no eating out if you know that once a month you’re going to end up ordering in pizza anyway. Be real with yourself about your needs and goals and cut yourself some slack from the beginning. Don’t try to do too much with too little, if you look at your budget and it’s not going to be liveable, start again.
4. Protect yourself
It may seem to make sense to skip out on paying insurance premiums, especially if you feel like you’re a responsible person, but it just takes one bad circumstance to turn everything around. Keep your car, house, and health insured at the best level you can afford while meeting other obligations. It doesn’t take but one bad day to turn into a mountain of debt otherwise. When obtaining car and home insurance be sure to ask about discounts, you may be able to use more than you realize. If you rent your house, look into renters insurance, the premiums are often very low for a moderate amount of coverage and it can be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency.
5. Plan ahead
Try to grow an emergency fund for 3-6 months of expenses to help if you run into problems. Even having $500 in a savings account can help with minor bumps in the road like car repairs or other unexpected but inconvenient problems. Keep your credit score as high as possible to help make borrowing money cheaper by having lower interest rates if you ever are put in a position to have to do so.
6. Relax wisely
Whatever your hobby, make sure your downtime doesn’t break the bank. If your children want to play sports look into municipal leagues which are often more affordable. If you like to read or watch movies become library adept, so many libraries now not only offer books and DVDs to check out but also offer e-books and streaming services. Getting and maintaining a library card can be your doorway to entertainment, and often free activities and classes for your children. Consider taking a staycation more often than not, saving big vacations for every 5 years.
7. Give time, not money
When it comes to gift giving holidays and occasions, don’t go overboard. Remember that your love is more important than your bank account, and offer up the gift of quality time. Taking your time to teach your child a craft you enjoy or even just setting up a regular park day can be a great way to spend time together without spending much money.
8. Look for opportunities
Find ways you can barter time with other families, taking their kids overnight so they can go on a date and vice versa. Make extra money selling toys and goods that you no longer need online. Be outgoing about starting a carpool to help parents have more flexible mornings, offer to do laundry in exchange for another parent mowing your lawn. Work with other large families to make the most of your time and efforts.