Need tips to save money as a family? Today marks exactly a year since I transitioned from full time employment as the primary breadwinner of our family of 4 and took a 35,000 dollar pay cut to work part time.
Where do you start?
Start by listing all of your monthly expenses, due dates, and amounts due. Every. Single. One. From the trash collector, car payments, tolls, life insurance, grocery cost, child care, gas, etc. For any debts, list total amount owed, amount due each month, and interest rate on each. (Don’t skip the interest rate step. This is key – you may be alarmed at the sky high interest charges you are paying each month and being aware and educated is the first step! Ignorance is not bliss in this process). If you aren’t sure what your interest rates are – call each lender and find out.
After you know the amount you are spending in each area look at where to cut back! Check out what the Smith family did below. Check out the easy tips for saving money as a family below.
Switched Cell Phone Carriers
We were averaging bills around 150$ or more with Verizon for only 2 GB of data each. We both have now had Straight Talk Wireless for a year and pay 90$ total. No overages, hidden charges, or crazy fees. We have 8 GB of data each and unlimited calling and texting, which is 4x the amount we had with Verizon. We have never experienced poor service or connections.
Cut the Cable Cord
We have used SlingTV for 3 years now, and have LOVED it. We pay 25$ a month and it’s a month to month contract where you can pause without fees. When I first quit my job we stopped sling for a few months and existed solely on Netflix just to try it out! (I found we enjoyed more family time, more time playing outside and more family walks when the TV wasn’t a distraction!)
Every Sunday I sit down and decide every breakfast, lunch, and dinner option for us for the week. There is no guesswork, no room for last minute fast food, and no reason to ditch the plan. I have a chalk board organization door in my kitchen and I write the meals out so we all know in advance. Planning ahead is KEY for meals and staying on track.
Find free family events in your area such as library story times, playgrounds, parks and gatherings with friends. Pack a lunch instead of eating out. Swap houses for monthly play date groups instead of meeting at play areas that have costs. Get creative!
Limited Online Shopping
I deleted the Amazon Prime app from my phone and if there is something I really want I sleep on it for a day or two to make sure I really truly can’t live without this item and it’s not an impulse purchase. I am more appreciative of buying myself things when I wait and think on it for a few days to be sure I really want the item. I also don’t buy a brand new dress and shoe combo for every social event anymore, I swap and borrow dresses with girlfriends who are the same size or head to a local consignment shop like Clementine RVA.
Decreasing Child Care Costs
We no longer need week long child due to me not working full time so we save an extra 900$ in that budget line alone monthly. Look at scheduling; would your place of employment let you work 4 long days and be home 1 day a week? Do you have a job that is flexible on hours you work? Can you work from home some? With creative scheduling we have been able to only require child care 16 hours a week. We still spend 400-500 dollars a month in child care. There are certain things that are worth being frugal one and childcare will NEVER be one of those. Cutting down the hours we need childcare from 40 hours to 16 is where we saw the most significant savings.
Pay Off Debt
This is the step that will open up a lot more freedom for our family, especially down the road! We have been following Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball method and I would highly recommend checking out his books from library or taking a local Financial Freedom class.
Use a Cash System
Decide on a predetermined amount of cash for various categories each week – groceries, gas, food, clothes, etc. – and label and put the cash in envelope each week. When the money is gone for the week, it’s gone. When I have to take out a dollar bill or count change instead of just swiping a card, I find that I am much more cognizant about what I am buying and I think twice.
What have you done to save money for your family? What worked and what didn’t?