Having children doesn’t mean having to have a bare bones bank account, and likewise children do not have to be materially spoiled to know they are loved. With a little hard work and balance every family from the small to the large can thrive even in a rough economy!
If one parent works from home is having three hundred and fifty satellite channels as important as having good internet for their management needs? Does the dog really need those gourmet treats from the boutique downtown? Prioritizing the budget and spending is one of the best ways to manage costs in a family of any size. Research what you’re overpaying for or what you could downgrade so that savings can be transferred into other areas that will better benefit the entire family.
How much do we really eat out? Can these dinner rolls be made cheaper than bought already made? A very good way to cut pennies and dollars out of the budget is to substitute with homemade. Everything from your meals and snacks to your cleaning supplies can be made for pennies in comparison to the dollars spent buying them pre-made. Research your local stores and shop where you’re going to spend less on average and remember name brands is just that: a name you’re paying far more for. Both parents work long hours and it’s easier to grab drive-thru between getting off work and Matthew’s ball game? Pack that crock pot full before you leave for work in the morning and let it cook on low all day. It’s ready when you are with food that’s not only cheaper than drive-thru it’s healthier too!
Compromise is the name of the game! Amanda wants to do dance, Corin is begging to go to cheer camp and Johnny insists on joining scouts. Even public school families are paying out the nose for extra-curricular activities these days. So why not sign up for a family discounted martial arts class, a community drama class or a local artisan’s skill class? There are several ways for your family to get out and get those growing experiences without shrinking your finances into nothing.
“Mom these jeans are too short!” “Mother those are the skirts I wore last year!” And as these shouts echo down your hallways all you can think of is your bills and groceries. Take them to the thrift stores and turn them loose! Look at these bargains with the eye of a seamstress: “Oh Caroline I know this jean skirt was in style three years ago but with some distressing and a new hemline it can be in style again!” You may even find some easily transformable styles for yourself as well; without having to worry about a total at the register that will put you in default.
Public schools are becoming less of an option for many average Americans these days for too many reasons to discuss within the word limits of this article, but even if that ends up being the case for your family there’s no need to go broke doing it. Join a local co-op, pool free online resources, work lessons into your home life, and use your library to the ends of it’s abilities. Do-it-yourself curriculums are just as educational as the prepackaged boxes you find in the catalogues that will cost you hundreds of dollars a year and the private school alternatives that are even more expensive.
Another great idea that can stretch any of your buying budget dollars is bartering. Barter food items you need for those you don’t, barter unwanted clothes for pieces that will actually be worn. Even school books can be found and bartered for in homeschool co-ops and circles. Trading and bartering has been around since before money currency. There’s no shame in using a system that works no matter how old it is.
Your best friend just posted her pictures of their summer vacation in Jamaica and you suddenly wish you had one of those live in nannies so you could traverse the globe without having to worry about kids; but why not take them? Vacations can be fun and entertaining without having to spend thousands of dollars a night. Go camping at the lake, take a short road trip to a close memorial or tourist attraction, or even have a stay-cation and visit all the tourist attractions right there in your hometown.
Minimizing debt will also keep dimes and nickels in your account. Get those cards paid off and throw them in a drawer in your safe. Save up and pay with cash instead of just swiping plastic and forgetting about it. Sit on your large purchases and think them over for at least a week to make sure you’re certain you have to buy it new at full price. Those bills maybe what’s putting you in a stressful situation for the time being?
And remember, when all else fails, that old saying: “spending time with your children is better than spending money on your children.”