Having kids can be a really exciting time in a couple's life. They truly bring so much joy, fun, and brand new experiences to your world. But what also comes with kids that is less endearing is more expenses. The bills can rack up easily, which is why the average American household carries a debt of $145,000. So what are the best ways to save money for families? Whether you're saving for retirement or college for your kids, try some of the tips below.
1. Plan Your Meals
Food ranks as the third largest expenditure in our budgets. Weekly meal planning can help reduce that bill dramatically. When you know what you're going to make every day and for each meal, you don't have to spend time coming up with a game plan in the moment. This could and usually does end up in ordering out, which adds up in costs, on those busy days when you just don't want to think about it. When meals are planned out, you can also buy in bulk, which also tends to help cut costs.
2. Don't Buy a Second Car
Transportation is the second largest expenditure in our budgets. LendingTree estimates the U.S. average monthly car payment for a new car is $563, $397 for used cars, and $450 for leased cars. And with that car payment also comes gas and maintenance costs. Since more people now than ever are working from home, a second vehicle might not be absolutely necessary and you could save upwards of $7,000 per year by forgoing one.
3. Prioritize Your Health
It's easy to take your health for granted in your twenties, but things like your metabolism start to slow down in your thirties and chronic disease usually start in middle age. Prevent unnecessary and unwanted medical expenses by prioritizing your health now. According to this health spending calculator, "The typical non-elderly family of four with at least one member in worse health and employer coverage spends $21,550 per year on health." If that family member is in "better health," they can save almost $3,000 on average per year. Start by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep. Yoga is a great option because it builds muscle, can improve your mood, and increases blood flow.
4. Eliminate Subscriptions
How many of us sign up for a 6 month or 1 year deal because it works out cheaper than going month to month? But then we end up using it very little, or maybe never at all. Try going through all of your subscriptions and evaluate what is worth it and what isn't. Get rid of the ones that aren't worth it and challenge yourself to eliminate more as time goes on. It could be a streaming tv service, music, audiobook membership, or various kids' monthly subscriptions. When my daughter was a baby, I signed up for a monthly bow subscription. Although it was fun to see what new season-themed or holiday-themed bow would show up in the mail, she ended up accumulating a surplus of bows and really didn't need any more.
5. Get Rid of Temptation
Temptation to spend is constantly staring us in the face. Whether it's those email newsletters we didn't even realize we signed up for, commercials bombarding us on tv, or those free catalogs that show up at our door automatically. Unsubscribe from the emails, watch less tv, and toss out those catalogs before you look through them. Staying on track with your financial goals happens most efficiently when you're not shopping impulsively.
6. Avoid Using Your Credit Card
Credit cards are almost synonymous with debt these days. Over 191 million Americans have credit cards and the average household credit card debt is $5,315. One way to avoid this is by not using your credit card(s) anymore. The envelope system is budgeting technique where you put cash into envelopes for certain expenses and only spend from that envelope. If you can stop accumulating credit card debt, you'll save yourself tons of money that would be spent otherwise on fees and high interest rates.
7. Implement a Spending Limit for Gifts
Depending on how many immediate and extended family members you have that expect gifts for birthdays and holidays, you could be faced with a rather large financial obligation every year. By implementing a spending limit on gifts, you take back control of that area in your budget and probably help lower everyone's else's stress levels too. A diplomatic way of deciding on the exact amount could be sending an anonymous poll out to those involved to gauge how much others want to spend.
There are so many practical ways to start saving money as a family, and you can start any of the ones mentioned in this list today. If you'd like more ideas on ways to save, how to budget, and other financial tips, check out my blog here!