Imagine how your life could change if you were to discover extra money in your family’s monthly budget. What would you do with it? Could you pay down debt? Start, or add to, a savings fund for your children’s college educations? Get a pet?
Let’s discuss 4 smart and viable ways you can save substantially on everyday family essentials, freeing up money you could better allocate in other ways.
1. Stop Using Disposable Items
Have you ever stopped to calculate how much your family is spending on disposable items? If your family is like most, you’re spending a bundle on these conveniences.
If you have two children wearing diapers, you might be spending anywhere from $100 to $200 a month or perhaps even more just for their diapers and baby wipes. Cloth diapering can save you hundreds or possibly even thousands of dollars in the long term. Your total savings depends on how many children you have and how long they’re in diapers before successfully potty training.
Cleaning wipes, paper towels, paper napkins, tissues and other paper items can all drive your grocery costs up. Going paperless in the kitchen can create substantial savings.
Here are a few suggestions for a variety of disposable items you can easily replace:
- Replace your single-use batteries with rechargeables.
- Stop buying disposable plastic sandwich baggies and paper bags for lunches. Instead, pack meals and snacks in bento boxes, lunch boxes, Thermoses, Tupperware or other portable containers.
- Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins.
- Replace paper towels with some combination of dishcloths, huck towels, rags and / or dish towels.
- Replace your tissues with cloth handkerchiefs.
- Find additional ideas for money-saving, zero-waste swaps here.
It is likely that you will have to do more laundry if you implement these suggestions. For people who live in drought-prone areas where water is costly, the cost savings for some of these ideas may be negligible. But for many parents, implementing these ideas could translate to substantial savings after the initial purchases of non-disposable items.
2. Air Dry Laundry Instead of Using the Dryer
Speaking of laundry, there are bunches of different ways you can save money when you approach this chore. If you have and use a clothes dryer at home, that simple convenience can boost your electricity bills substantially.
When it’s practical to do so, air drying your laundry can help you avoid higher-than-necessary utility bills. If you’re able to use a clothesline outside, you can trim your utility bills by little bits that add up substantially in the long term. If you don’t have the space, or if you’re prohibited by weather or local ordinances from drying your laundry outside, a drying rack inside can work well. If you’re short on space, it can be placed in the bathtub while it’s in use and then folded up and stored in a closet when it’s not.
When you’re in a hurry, and you absolutely can’t get around using the dryer, you can add wool dryer balls to your load of laundry to reduce the amount of time it takes to get your clothes completely dry.
One more laundry tip: Use cold water rather than warm or hot in cases where your laundry isn’t all that soiled. That will save you the cost of heating the water. Do be aware that if you use cloth diapers, hot water is required to get the diapers clean enough. But otherwise, you can squeeze out some additional savings by washing with cold water.
3. Consider Montessori Beds for Kids
Once your babies have outgrown their cribs, buying them big-kid beds can be an expensive proposition. However, there’s a solution that only requires you to buy a mattress; you can skip buying an expensive bed frame to support it. That solution? A Montessori floor bed. In fact, you might want to consider an entire Montessori-style nursery for your little one.
A Montessori bed can be as simple as a basic mattress placed on the floor. The cost savings isn’t the only benefit associated with this setup. The idea is to empower your child to be able to get into and out of bed on her own, without her having to rely on your help. Of course, you must meticulously baby proof the entire room if you take this approach.
You will still have to spend money on an excellent mattress that will support your child’s body comfortably as she sleeps. But you can save money on your mattress if you use this Ecosa coupon code.
4. Buy Selected Items Secondhand
There are many items that children use but outgrow quickly. Clothing, shoes, books and toys are a few of these items. It’s sensible to buy things like these secondhand for substantial savings. It’s often possible to find baby items like bouncers, walkers, bathtubs and even cribs secondhand as well. Check local thrift stores, freecycle.org and Craig’s list for free and low-cost options.
The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents
Some of the items included on the list above might be more workable for you than others. Make notes to capture the ideas you’d like to implement right away.
The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents
Implementing these suggestions may require some careful planning for a couple of reasons.
For starters, the upfront cost of buying reusable items tends to be greater than the costs for their disposable counterparts. You realize a cost savings for these items in the long term; but in the short term, buying them all at once might not be an option for some families. If your family is already on a super tight budget, it might be most practical to take baby steps as you make the switch from disposable items to non-disposable ones.
In that case, give some thought to which items would be likely to save you the most in the long term – and then prioritize buying those. For example, if your kids’ toys eat up batteries at an alarming rate, it might make sense to prioritize a purchase of rechargeable batteries.
Another caveat is that reusing items can obviously take more time than using disposables, because the reusable items require you to spend time on ongoing maintenance. So consider how your schedule may change as you implement these new purchases. Some changes may not make any significant difference in your daily routine. For example, buying and using new handkerchiefs isn’t likely to add significantly to your laundry burden. In contrast, if you want to start cloth diapering, that will create a substantial increase in the amount of laundry you’ll need to do. So you’ll have to give some thought to how you can integrate a few extra loads of laundry into your schedule each week.
The list above is really only a starting point when it comes to creative ways you could save money. What other money-saving ideas can you think of that you haven’t yet implemented?