What are some easy ways parents can save money?
Raising children is expensive. As parents, we all look for ways to save money.
Often we get in our own way looking at cutting big monthly expenditures. It may not seem like eliminating the small things could make a big impact, but they can.
What small things should you cut out of your monthly routine to save money? Here are seven suggested items costing you the most money and preventing many parents from saving money.
Coffee and tea drinkers love caffeine and sometimes we need it to make it through the day. However, if you go to a place like Starbucks to get your coffee, this is one thing you can eliminate. The average person spends approximately $2.75 per cup of coffee from Starbucks daily. This is the average price for a tall latte. If you get a more complicated drink with all the additions or a seasonal drink, you are spending up to $2.25 more daily. When you multiply the average spent for a tall latte by the average length of a month (30 days), you are spending $82.50 monthly just for your morning coffee.
Instead of grabbing coffee or tea from the local Starbucks, consider buying coffee or tea and making it at home. Depending on the type of coffee or tea you purchase, brewing your own and then adding creamer/milk and sugar to it on average costs about $20.00 monthly. You can buy a thermos to keep it hot and to take your beverage on the go. Just eliminating this purchase daily can save parents $62.50 monthly. Double that savings in a two parent household where you both are stopping for your morning cup.
In the past, going out to eat was a treat and was a calculated part of a family budget. Going out once a week to have a sit down dinner with the family was a chance to spend time together. However, in recent years, going out to eat has become second nature and people don't often consider the cost. Current trends today show that 90% of Americans say they just don't like to cook. On average, an American household spends approximately $3,008 per year ordering out, or $250.00 monthly. Even one person eating lunch daily at work and spending an average of $10.00 per meal, translates to a total cost of $50.00 during a normal five day work week, or approximately $220.00 monthly.
To cut the cost, pack your lunch at home. Taking a meal from home is more nutritious and customizable. It is also much cheaper. A meal from home will cost the average American $6.30 daily. In an average work week of five days, this equates to approximately $126.00 monthly. Eating all your meals from home will reduce your monthly expenditures anywhere between $94.00 to $170.67 on average. This doesn't mean you can't eat out at all. Go back to making it a treat for you and your family and plan an outing once or twice a week.
If you are using a credit card to pay for groceries, stop. Unless it is a cash back card where you are receiving a certain percentage back for the amount you spend, credit cards at the grocery store are a big mistake. Although this might seem like the easy way to pay, relying on your credit card or debit card can actually make you spend more money then you intend to by enticing you to make purchases you really don't need.
Instead of paying with your credit card, pay with cash. Create meal plans at home for a week including all three meals and snacks in between. Use this meal plan to make a list of the items you need and take only enough cash with you to cover those essentials. This will keep you from spending money on items you don't need. You can also download apps that can help save you even more money. These apps allow you to scan in your register receipt and receive money back based on the amount you spend. The money accrues into an account over time and once it reaches a certain point, you can withdraw it as cash and put in your bank account.
Smoking is not only detrimental for your health, but it is also a needless habit that can be fatal to your wallet. Depending on the state you live in and how many packs a day you smoke, this habit could be costing you enough money to buy you a brand new car. On average in the United States, the approximate cost of one pack of cigarettes is $5.50. If you smoke a pack a day, you are spending $38.50 weekly, or about $154.00 monthly. This means that quitting smoking will save you about $1,848.00 annually. This is just the savings for the cost of the cigarettes, but you will reduce costs elsewhere with things like health insurance premiums.
Quitting is not easy. Nicotine is an addictive drug. Quitting "cold turkey" makes you more prone to withdraw symptoms and relapse. Instead, try quitting gradually over time. If you are a pack a day smoker, try to only smoke ten cigarettes a day, then gradually reduce that down to five and then none. You can also try using therapy like nicotine patches that help you to quit slowly over time. Quitting smoking can cut your monthly expenditures by at least $154.00 per month if you currently smoke a pack a day.
Cancelling unused memberships can save you monthly unnecessary expenditures and increase your savings. For example, if you have a gym membership and don't use it, this is wasted money. Most people who pay for a gym membership do so at the beginning of the year when making their New Year's resolutions. After a few months, they lose initiative and their attendance slowly dwindles. Eventually they end up not going at all, but still putting out the money per month to maintain the membership because they might go back and they signed a contract. The average gym membership cost in America is about $58.00 per month, which means cancelling this membership if you don't use it saves you approximately $696.00 annually. Consider other memberships you pay for and don't use the services as well.
If you really want to work out and stay fit, the cheaper alternative is to get your workout at home. For the yearly expense of paying a gym membership, you can get your very own home gym. If you don't have the space for an in-home gym, then do some research and find alternatives you can do at home to get the same workout as you would in the gym.
When it comes to raising children, remember the old saying about quality versus quantity. On average, Americans with an average income spend approximately $233,610 on their children from birth until their 17th birthday. Most parents spend even more than that if their child continues to live with them after high school or chooses to go to college. Yes, you read that right. That number does not include college tuition fees. This number includes needs such as housing, food, childcare, transportation, healthcare, clothing and miscellaneous expenditures. Most spend even more throughout childhood trying to give children things they want, even really expensive things, in addition to what they need.
However, keep the quality versus quantity saying in mind. Children are the most happy when they spend quality time with their family. They don't have the capacity to understand the quantity of money you have spent on them considering children have no real concept of money, especially when they are younger. Often times they don't discover the value of money until they have their first job and start having to pay their own bills. Take your kids out to the park, go for a walk, sit down with them and play a board game or card game or go in the kitchen and bake with them. Remember, it's about the amount of time you spend with them and the love you show them. That is so much more important than the amount of money you spend on them. Time is what they will remember the most.
Schools educate children about money, but they do not learn the value of money. In order to educate children about the value of money, they need to learn how to save and how to budget. There are many ways that children as young as five can be taught to save and budget. A simple search of the internet will reveal projects you can set up and incorporate in your home to teach them budget and savings. Kids who don't learn this important aspect of money are more likely to end up in crippling debt before realizing what money truly is. Be sure to teach your children in an attempt to protect them before they get in over their heads.
There are many steps you can take as a parent to save money. Work with what you have and think creatively outside of the box. Talk things over with your spouse and the rest of your household to ensure everyone is on the same page so that you won't be the only one trying to make better financial decisions for your household.