Going down from two incomes to one could mean you need to make some adjustments to your budget. Or maybe you’d like to start tackling debt more aggressively. Or how about saving up for your dream vacation?! Here are 6 easy ways to cut back on household costs when you have kids.
6 Easy ways to save money when you have kids
1. Cloth diaper
Diapers are stupid expensive.
I didn’t start cloth diapering until my first kid was about a year and a half. So I bought disposable diapers for about 18 months.
Even if you add up the costs of the cheapest off-brand diapers like I used to use.
Easier said than done, but don’t be intimidated by cloth diapering (I totally was. I didn’t even know where to start.) Once you learn about it and start doing it and learn what works for you and your baby, it’s seriously the easiest thing ever.
Check out my post on How To Cloth Diaper For $100 Bucks or Less!
2. Use baby washcloths instead of baby wipes
So this idea I kind of started on accident.
I cloth diaper and instead of using store-bought baby wipes, I use regular, baby washcloths with a spray bottle to dampen the cloth as needed.
However, at the dinner table, I was still accustomed to my pack of store-bought wipes to use to clean the kids up after they eat.
Well, one day I ran out of those disposable wipes, and because I can’t stand grocery shopping, I kept putting it off on getting more.
So, when I needed to wipe my kid’s messy hands after mealtime, I just quickly grabbed a bundle of my baby washcloths, ran one under the sink to dampen, and used that to clean up messy hands and faces.
(I know what you’re thinking – “Wait, DaLorean, you use the same wipes you use to wipe butts on your kid’s faces? Ew!”
Well, my observant friend, without going into my whole cloth diapering schpeal, let me just assure you that most people who cloth diaper, including me, have a very, very thorough wash routine that results in some squeaky clean diapers. You kind of have to, or else your kid will get rashes from wearing pee and poop infested diapers. Plus that’s just nasty if you don’t. Anyway, my cloth diapers right out of my dryer, smell and look just as new as the day I bought them, free of stains and all. And I’ve been using them through two kids now. Furthermore, I wash all of my baby washcloths with my diapers in my squeaky clean wash routine, so…yeah. I assure you: They’re clean.)
The point is, use baby washcloths in place of baby wipes, even if you don’t cloth diaper. And then just throw them in the dirty clothes hamper with the rest of your kid’s clothes when you’re done.
I just use some of these cheap, mostly cotton baby washcloths I could find at Walmart.
I do, however, have a pack of disposable wipes in my diaper bag and in my car.
But not using disposable wipes daily in the house has saved so much money!
3. Stop buying “convenience foods”
Convenience foods are:
- Pre-packaged chips – like, the little lunch-sized chip bags
- Pre-packaged individual lunch-sized snack bags, such as cheez-its or mini Oreos
- Applesauce squeeze pouches, and all other baby squeeze pouch packs
- Pretty much all premade foods. Examples are:
- Fully cooked frozen chicken strips or nuggets
- Frozen meatballs
- Frozen hamburger patties
- Instant rice
- Precut fruit bowls (like those little ones you put in lunches, for example)
- Frozen breakfast sandwiches
- Eggo waffles
- Premixed salads
- Even canned lentils and other canned beans
- Etcetera – You get the idea – foods that have been already prepared or cooked and then frozen, canned, or dried so all you have to do is warm them up.
Alternatives to buying convenience foods
Prepackaged lunch-sized chip and snack bags
Instead of getting the mini chip bags convenient for lunches, buy a big bag and a box of sandwich-sized ziplock bags and fill those for lunches. It really doesn’t take that long to do and you’ll have money saved!
Applesauce squeeze pouches (and all other baby squeeze packs)
Make your own!
I’ll be honest, its kind of scary buying those premade squeezes and not even being able to see what’s inside them as you shove it into your baby’s mouth. I like to know exactly what I’m giving my kid to eat!
So I purchased some of these WeeSprout reusable squeeze pouches, and put whatever I want in them.
Sometimes it’s just applesauce. Other times I use my blender and whip up a toddler-friendly smoothie that I pour in them.
This is kind of a no-brainer – Make your own foods!
Buy some ground beef and pat down your own hamburger patties or roll your own meatballs (you could even turn this into a fun family thing – have the kids pat their own hamburgers or rolling their own meatballs.)
Buy fresh fruit and cut it up yourself.
Buy a head of lettuce and cut it up yourself and store it in a big ziplock or in a big covered bowl in the fridge.
Buy a bag of rice and make rice the old-fashioned way. And then bag and freeze. You’re homemade instant rice!
Get a $1.50 bag of dried lentils or garbanzo beans or whatever other beans you like, make the whole bag, and portion it out and freeze it to use later.
Tip: Get an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker for making your beans! It cuts down making beans (and every other meal) to a fraction of the normal cook time!
Here’s an Instant Pot recipe I used to make my batch of lentils. They came out perfect in around 30 minutes!
Sure, all of these things take a little more time to do, but this is where you let your time management skills shine. 😉
Related Post – Time Management Tips For People Who Have No Time
I’m not telling you to go all super duper crunchy and grow your own corn and rice and milk your own cows (although, if you are one of those people who do such thing, hats off to you! That’s awesome!).
I’m just saying to start making things from scratch and notice how much you save in your grocery bill.
Our grocery bill went from around $800 a month for a family of 4 – which includes a toddler and a preschooler – down to somewhere between $400-$500 a month. And I tribute this completely to my weekly meal planning and cutting out “convenience foods.”
Side note… Since June 2018, I’ve been using this new budgeting app called YNAB (short for You Need A Budget) and it is a game changer! I have never felt so in control of my money and so excited about the future (being debt free, that is). I totally geek out at the end of each month as I see how much “
Click HERE and you’ll get your
You can read my complete YNAB Review in my post: How To Take Control Of Your Debt And Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck
4. Limit the toys
Instead of using our spare bedroom as a guest room, we turned it into a playroom.
It has an asinine amount of toys in it.
I’m the parent who LOVES getting new toys for my kids. To see them light up at a new toy just makes my day!
But I noticed there were only a small number of toys that they actually continued to play with. The rest were fun for a few moments and then quickly chucked in the corner somewhere.
So this past weekend I purged about 95% of our toys in my kid’s playroom.
My goal is to start over and this time practice simplicity (plus save myself a ton of money!).
Not to get too off-topic, but I just finished reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Wayne and it has been a total game-changer in my parenting ideas.
One of the topics he talks about is simplifying your kid’s toys in order to give them a chance to use their own imagination. A room full of toys is overwhelming for kids and they bounce from toy to toy, not really spending time on any particular one.
This was very true for my kids. I saw day in and day out how my kids would just quickly move from one toy to another, and eventually walk away out of boredom.
I’ve started a toy rotation system, which consists of 3 separate bins of toys – each having about 5 or 6 open-ended toys in them – and I rotate them out each week.
I’m excited to see where their little imaginations go!
But back to my point! …
My point is, too many toys are a waste. A waste of money. A waste of space (Oh my! The amount of space I just cleared up by getting rid of all of our toys is glorious!). And it’s a waste of a kid’s imagination – because the child doesn’t really get a chance to have one.
When you do decide to get some new toys, however, get them second hand. (Search Facebook marketplace and local Facebook buy/sell/trade groups – that’s where I just sold all of our toys which were in excellent condition FOR CHEAP.)
Speaking of second hand…
5. Buy clothes second hand
Kids grow out of clothes just as soon as they start to fit just right. Seriously.
Every once in awhile I will buy a new shirt or two from the store, but for the most part, all of my kid’s clothes are second hand.
People sell clothes for so cheap because they just want to get rid of them! (As I just did with my recent toy purge I mentioned above.)
And as I said, kids grow out of things so fast, so most all the clothes I have gotten are hardly even worn. Especially infant clothing.
Most of the clothes I get from other people are expensive, name brand clothes that I would never spend to buy brand new.
Get on your local Facebook buy/sell/trade/garage sale groups. People are always selling kid clothes, or even giving them away for free.
Same goes for kids’ bedding and sheets. (And adult bedding and sheets, for that matter!)
6. Get a library card
I started reading to my kids from the very beginning when they were infants.
With my first kid, I was determined to basically have our own library of books for him in his room or in his playroom.
So I would buy book after book. Some second hand. Others brand new.
But, it got expensive.
And just like toys, most of the books were ignored after the first read.
Both kids have their favorites and they could each count those few on one hand. The rest of the books are just sitting there on the shelf.
A waste of space and money! (And also overwhelming as Kim John Payne mentions in his book Simplicity Parenting that I mentioned above.)
So because my kids were getting bored of their 3 or so favorite books (out of their, like, 100 or more books on the shelf) we started going to the library to check out new ones.
Library = Free books!
And practically an unlimited number of them!
As normal, kids have their favorites. We have checked out books that my kids ended up having no interest in. Tons of them actually. How much more money would I have wasted buying those books just for my kids to not even like them? Gah!
And the good thing is, when they do find one they love, we can go buy just that one book. Instead of playing the “Trial and Error” game on multiple books, wasting a ton of money.
Not to mention, libraries are like heaven for toddlers and preschoolers and any other kids who love books! Mine run all over the place, grabbing books and sitting in the little tables to read them!
What is something you’ve cut back on to save money? Comment below!
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