The list is endless. There’s extra-curricular activities, sports equipment, summer camp, clothes, shoes, books, toys and oh yeah – the future. There’s no way around it – being a parent is expensive. With so much of your income ear-marked for something or other, why not look around and identify small ways to help you and your family save money? By putting in a little extra time and doing your research, there are tons of opportunities for cost savings. Here are five tips to help you get started:
Swap your kids’ old threads for new ones using consignment services.
Canadian parents spend $800 million annually on children’s clothing and much of those items are in perfect condition when they are outgrown! Minitrade.ca is a Canadian online clothing trade service, offering busy parents the opportunity to purge their children’s cluttered closets and purchase quality pre-loved clothing from well-known brands for kids at 70% off the retail price. Shopping and trading through services like Minitrade.ca can save you valuable time and money (not to mention gas and headaches from braving the malls with children in tow!)
Cook & Freeze.
Buy meat in bulk and prepare a big batch of chili, meat sauce, casseroles, soups and stews and freeze them. You’ll save some cash by buying large quantities and bonus – you’ll have a steady supply of quick week-night dinners on hand so you don’t have to resort to an expensive and potentially unhealthy drive-through during the after-school-to-hockey-practice rush.
Sign up for free customer rewards programs – such as Shopper’s Drug Mart’s Optimum Card or Air Miles.
Even for rare visits, having a rewards card will eventually net you some coupons and discounts. To manage the annoying barrage of emails associated with loyalty programs, create an email address just for these mailings, collect every card you can, and then check that email account periodically for extra coupons whenever you’re planning on heading to that store.
Swap babysitting with neighbors.
Sick of begging the in-laws to watch the kids for a night on the town? Us too – but the thought of shelling out $12-$15 an hour for a teenager to chat on her iPhone all night just doesn’t seem right. If you live in a neighborhood with tons of little ones, chances are you’re not alone. Swap babysitting nights with a friend whom your kids are comfortable with and save the in-laws for the nights that really matter – sleepovers!
Bust boredom without spending a penny on new toys or books.
Exasperated by your kids telling you they have nothing to play with, despite your basement and bookshelves overflowing with every toy under the sun? Sometimes the selection can be overwhelming. Put some of their toys and books away so they can focus and rediscover those fewer options in front of them. Then, when they seem bored with those, switch them up. Or, swap books or toys with a neighbor or friend for a couple of weeks. Chances are your kids will never notice a few of their items missing for a short time, and they’ll be able to explore some new things for a little while.
And, of course, for entertainment, don’t forget to check out community listings in local papers and online outlets like our Help! We’ve Got Kids’ events calendar. There are often tons of free events going on in your city that are perfect for young families.
Has your family made any small changes recently to save money? If you’ve got a good tip, we’d love to hear it!
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