My husband and I have always loved traveling. We enjoy the challenge of planning a trip to a place we never thought we could go, to see life through a lens we never thought we’d understand. We’re not fancy or rich people, we just really wanted to experience new things and new places, so we made it happen.  money

Too often, we think travel equates to what we see in luxurious pictures on Instagram—staying in extravagant hotels, taking expensive outings, and buying pricey souvenirs. In fact, sometimes friends or family would widen their eyes and ask us “How can you afford that?” Well, we kept an eye out for low flight prices, settled for small hotels outside the big tourist cities (we don’t spend much time in the hotel anyway), and we chose activities that were educational, memorable, and meaningful (instead of expensive). Additionally, we were careful not to overspend throughout the year.

 When we had our daughter, we wondered if we’d be able to travel the same as we used to. After all, we didn’t even know if we could afford the new expenses of parenting. Turns out, we could—using the same strategies we used to travel. We watch items for the best prices and deals. We only buy what we really need, and we choose the occasional splurge carefully. We know that having fun doesn’t have to mean spending money. And with every paycheck, we put some money on reserve. We’ve been able to figure out parenting so far. And once this pandemic clears up, we might even be able to take a trip now and then. 

The thing is, raising a child can become quite expensive. It doesn’t help that we are constantly flooded with ads and social media posts that try to convince us we need all the fancy things to be good parents and make life easy. But even if those gadgets are convenient, in the long run, all that spending can add up and make things much harder. To really offer the best life for our kids, it’s important to adopt a lifestyle that supports you for the long haul.

These 7 simple money-saving tips will help parents:

Adopt a minimalist approach

Adopting a minimalist mindset for your life is a great place to start. Minimalism is about first clearing out your clutter (hint: resell that stuff for a little extra cash), organizing what’s left, and bringing in fewer things. Buying less obviously saves money, and having neatly organized spaces saves your sanity. Try buying fewer toys for your children, allowing their creativity to fuel their play. You can also try joining a toy library to save money and space while allowing your kids to regularly enjoy new toys. Look into clothing subscriptions or other monthly item-renting services, so you can reduce clutter and spending on those things. 

Eat at home

Eating out adds up, but cooking at home tends to be better for your wallet and your overall health. (It teaches your kids important life skills, too.) Make your shopping trips efficient by planning meals ahead of time around current grocery deals. 

If you’re feeding an infant, it can be difficult to find a formula that doesn’t break the bank AND provides optimum nutrition for your child. Search instead for baby formula consisting of clean, simple, organic ingredients. Plus, once again, your wallet will thank you.

Choose low-cost adventures

You really shouldn’t have to pay for a memorable activity with your family. Be intentional about choosing adventures that cost little to nothing. Focus on making time together meaningful and memorable—those are the moments your kids will remember best, anyway. Break out your tent and head to a campsite, take a hike, play at a park, have a water fight, enjoy storytime at the library. Play games, watch movies, look at the stars, cook something together, check out cheap local events—you get the idea. Use your imagination to find family activities that make the most of your time and funds. 

Practice sustainable living to cut expenses

While sometimes sustainable living seems expensive and daunting, many sustainable habits actually cost less than the typical lifestyle. Turn off lights and fans in your home when not in use, and conserve water by turning it off while you brush your teeth or wash your hair. While disposable items are convenient, they generally aren’t great for the environment and cost more in the long run than reusable products. Examine your transportation methods and see if you can make adjustments for a smaller carbon footprint and less stress on your budget. For instance, public transportation, biking, or walking usually add up to be much less than paying off a car that guzzles gas (which also costs money). 

Spend wisely

We’ve talked a lot about how to not buy things, but what about when you need to? Sure, you could always take up couponing. But you could also use a simple online coupon tool like CapitalOne or Honey that does all the deal-hunting for you. Wikibuy in particular has more than 3 million downloads.  When possible, it helps you find coupons for all sorts of brands and items; for example, here are the current ways to save at Abercrombie. When possible, it helps to buy store-brand products on CapitalOne. Take advantage of end-of-season sales to stock up for next year’s seasonal needs. And remember, it’s okay to buy gently used clothing and goods sometimes.

Homemade goods

Sometimes the old adage “if you want something done right, do it yourself,” literally pays off. Maybe DIYs aren’t always the best idea, but sometimes a little creativity and resourcefulness goes a long way to stretch your dollars—and can be just as effective! For instance, try to concoct your own beauty or cleaning products, or child-proof the DIY way

Keep adding to emergency and retirement funds

Saving money isn’t just about cutting down expenses—it’s also about putting a bit of income on reserve every month. As 2020 has reminded us, you really never know when hard times will hit, and it pays—financially and mentally—to have a stash of cash to pull you through those “rainy days.” Maintain a monthly budget to see how much money you have coming in, and track where it’s all going. This will help you assess your current position and see clearly where you can improve. 

When you live below your means (using the tips above, and your own ideas), it allows you to establish healthy financial habits. And don’t let it stop with you—carry that frugal mindset to the next generation by teaching your kids to spend and save responsibly. 

Parenting can get expensive. We are constantly flooded with social media and ads that try to convince us we need all the fancy things to be good parents and make life easy. But even if those gadgets are convenient, in the long run, all that spending can add up and make things much harder. To really offer the best life for our kids, it’s important to adopt a lifestyle that supports you for the long haul. These 7 simple adjustments can get you there. 


Image from by Karolina Grabowska.