Frugal Tips For Stretching The Family Finances

Raising a family is costly, there is not a doubt about that. From feeding and clothing the kids to paying for medical expenses, school expenses, hobbies, sporting activities, orthodontic treatment, etc., there are many costs that come with raising children. While we’ve had to be creative at times to make the budget stretch while living on one income, we’ve {thankfully} always had everything we needed.

Here are some frugal tips we’ve discovered along the way to stretching our finances:

You Won’t Have Everything You Want and Neither Will Your Children

Accept that your children are not going to get everything they want but you can provide them with all that they need. My children know that they are not going to get the latest brand name fashions, toys, video games, etc. We provide the basics and they save their allowance money for the extras. This has not always made them happy. In fact it has caused a temper flare or two. However, we do teach (or at least attempt to teach) them the difference between wants and needs. While we are sensitive to their feelings, we do not give in to their inborn consumerism.

Learn How To Fix Stuff

We’ve learned to be DIY type homeowners out of necessity and have saved quite a bit of money in the process. We’ve fixed leaky toilets, repaired holes in walls, painted the house ourselves, and basically decided to DIY anywhere we can. Classes at our local home improvement store helped a lot. We keep a running list of repairs that need to be made and prioritize it according to the most urgent repair needed. Our backyard fence needs to be replaced so we’re saving up and planning to do that next Spring. While we love to save money by doing as many repairs as we can, we have drawn the limit on A/C repairs and appliance repairs.

Cooking at Home Saves Some Serious Money

Okay, so I admit that I started our marriage a somewhat less than enthusiastic cook but the main point I want to make here is that I eventually learned how to do it. I began with preparing just basic meals – some type of meat, a vegetable or two, homemade bread (thank you bread machine) and a salad. As I become more adept at cooking I ventured into more complicated dishes like casseroles and family favorites like pizza. Now I cook nearly everything from scratch. Do I enjoy cooking now? No, not really but I do enjoy the dollar savings it provides and the fact that by making this small sacrifice our family budget has room for other items and I don’t have to work outside the home.

Second Hand Stuff Is A Lifesaver

We shop at thrift stores, consignment stores, secondhand stores, and garage sales. I try to look well ahead for our needs such as what clothing the kids will need for the next season or two. Hobby and sports equipment have also been purchased second hand. Ebay has also been a great money saver for clothing for the kids.

If You Can Borrow, Don’t Buy

One of our frugal rules is that if you can borrow something, then you don’t buy it. I’m fortunate enough to have friends with children of similar ages. When the baby needed an exersaucer, all I needed to do was ask around and I had one within a week. I let my friends know what things I need and they do the same. I’ve also participated in toy and book swaps which have been very helpful.

Grow Your Own Food

Our kids grow their own garden. They have the benefit of learning a very useful hobby and are more likely to eat the vegetables that they grow. We are currently growing broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, and turnips. It’s funny how a homegrown turnip tastes much better to a toddler than one purchased at the store.

Search Out Inexpensive Entertainment

We regularly search our city for free and fun entertainment. Our library has a great story time and we’re blessed with an abundance of parks and bike trials. We can usually find some type of free entertainment every weekend including free concerts at a local park or a seasonal event sponsored by a local radio station.

Save for Splurges

Last year we were able to take the kids to Disney World. Since we live in Florida, we didn’t have large travel expenses involved. We combined Florida Resident discounts with taking our own snacks into the park, and buying souvenirs off site, which really did save a bundle.

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