Remember thinking how hard it was to get by week-to-week when you were young and childless? Then kids happened, and life got better, but you suddenly had a whole new perspective on scraping by!
It is estimated that, on average, parents with two children will spend $406,000 raising each child. While this figure obviously varies from family to family, there is no doubt that making ends meet for your family while also saving for future expenses is an ongoing challenge.
Luckily, there are a few small things that you can do to help cut costs and have a little money left over for the extras. Here are our 5 money saving tips for your family!
1. Host parties at home
Kids birthday parties can go from 1 to 100 very quickly, but they don’t have to. Instead of renting out a venue and paying for all the fancy extras, have some fun planning and hosting at home or at a nearby park where the kids can run around and work off the inevitable sugar rush. My favourite money saving tip when it comes to birthdays? Making your own cake and personally decorating it! This can turn a $100+ expense into a $20 one. Check out these cool unicorn cakes! Create your own themed decorations and party bags, and scour the internet for games to play. I don’t know about you, but musical chairs and pass-the-parcel are some of my favourite childhood memories!
2. Plan weekly meals in advance and avoid eating out
The day before you do your big grocery shop, sit down and create a menu for the week ahead. You can get the whole family involved with meal suggestions to keep everyone happy. And maybe even con the kids into helping you cook their favourite ones! Same with the kids’ lunches – plan ahead where possible. Packed lunches are generally going to be a lot healthier and money saving than the options available to buy at the school canteen. Cook from scratch when you can and try store branded options – you might be surprised! They can be a fraction of the price for exactly the same quality.
Do some research and find out whether you have a local farmer’s market near you. They’re a great place to grab some fresh produce at a discounted price, plus you’ll be supporting your local farmers! If you have the space and time, you can even grow your own fruit and vegetables at home. This gets the kids involved and teaches them the importance of working for what they want.
3. Shop around and buy second-hand
You’d be surprised what you can find in opp shops these days – I have many a time stumbled across designer clothes that would normally be well out of my budget. Sometime with the tags still on for less than $10! Before you fork out a small fortune for brand new school uniforms, check any second-hand stores around you. Same goes with school books – the local library (or even gumtree, or a buy-swap-sell Facebook page) may have students or parents advertising to sell barely used textbooks for a fraction of the price.
4. Scholarships and putting money aside for future studies
Never thought about applying for scholarships for your child’s education? It is definitely worth a look into – they are incredibly helpful with money saving and are not just for those who are academically gifted or good at sports. Many schools offer scholarships to lower income families who may be struggling to pay school fees. You may have to submit your application to a committee who will access your total household income. Do some research online, or give your school a call and discuss what they offer and what you may be eligible for. University may seem a long way off, but it’s never too early to start funding your child’s further education.
With many people still paying off HECS debts into their thirties and forties, it is a great idea to be proactive. Putting away just $20 a week from birth into a high interest account can amount to almost half the cost of an average degree by the time your child reaches university age.
5. Take advantage of free events
There are sure to be some great free events nearby that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you live in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or Hobart or somewhere rural. Check out your local library. They will often have readings or craft days especially designed for kids.
Other options to get out of the house and keep the kids occupied while saving money include: Checking out the local weekend markets, taking a day trip to a national park, and keeping an eye out for free museum exhibitions and concerts. Still in need of ideas? Have a conversation with your friends and family who have kids about what they do to cut corners with costs. They probably have some great advice and helpful resources.
The following information has been released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC):
To mark Global Money Week (27 March – 2 April 2017), ASIC’s MoneySmart offers practical tips and resources for parents to help them teach children about money to establish good money habits for life. More information is available here.