I get it, having kids is not exactly conducive to saving money. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you can spend an unlimited amount on your kid’s 2nd birthday party thanks to Pinterest. Forget saving for college!
Today I’m going to share with you 5 ways I save money, despite having kids. You can start using these ideas today to get a handle on your money.
Tip #1 to Save More Money: One card to rule them all
We use just one of our credit cards and we put as much of our spending as possible on it. Then we pay it off every month. Generally, there are only a few consistent items that can’t be put on the credit card and those come out of our checking account (our mortgage, our car payment, etc.). You could use your debit card the same way.
Why do we do this?
Because I am busy. And lazy. I don’t have time to go through and reconcile every spending item with my budget. That’s why I wrote the Anti-Budget Budget. I definitely don’t want to have to look at multiple accounts. I find that my clients who use multiple credit cards tend to have a harder time understanding what they are actually spending every month.
By using just one card, I can sign-in to online banking once or twice a month, look at my credit card statement, have the occasional mini-“come to Jesus” moment and recommit to controlling my spending.
Tip #2 to Save More Money: If you fall off the wagon, pick yourself up
About that occasional mini-”come to Jesus” moment - it happens and I choose to move forward. Instead of, “well - blew that spending plan. Guess I’ll try again next month.” I get creative and figure out how to tighten down. I try to make it a game (we’re only eating what’s in the pantry/fridge/freezer at this moment) and it usually involves pancakes for dinner.
(side note: this pancake recipe is legit.)
Tip #3 to Save More Money: Automation is the way of the future
Set up all of your savings on auto-debit. I have the following savings goals on auto-debit:
Why? Because I’m a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM and I still have trouble remembering to save every month. That’s OK because I don’t have to remember to save. It’s done automatically for me. Technology is your friend, use it to your advantage.
If you have a retirement savings plan at work, sign up. Today. (Not sure if your retirement plan is a good deal? Read Is My 401k Plan a Rip-Off ) Do you have a rainy day/sh*t just hit the fan/I just got a nail in two tires fund? Having some cash on the side is critical to building wealth. If you’re constantly playing catch-up it’s hard to get ahead.
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Tip #4 to Save More Money: Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your kids.
Listen, just because you can afford to spend money on your kids does not mean you have to or ought to spend more money on your kids. Here are some recent items I have said “no” to:
$20 on 2 Fidget Spinners
$19 for a Ninjago Book
$100 for Tag Rugby
$4 for another toy horse
$4 for a round of Slurpees
Total: $147 over 1 week is not chump change.
Some key phrases to keep handy:
“I am choosing to spend our money on other things.”
“Asked and answered.”
“Why don’t you think about spending your allowance on that.” Which is inevitably followed by *crickets* (LINK) Is it time to give your kid an allowance?
Tip #5 to Save More Money: Use cash selectively
Using cash is the quickest way to raise awareness on your day-to-day spending. I also like using cash for those tempting spending items because it brings in that sense of being “pre-paid.” For some people that’s dining out, while for others it’s shopping for clothing or going out with buddies. If you plan to spend $150 on back to school shopping and you use cash you can relax, knowing you are on track with your spending plan.
Using cash also means that when it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s OK though, using cash can help us better clarify our decision making process around spending. I’ll give you a quick example from our recent trip to the Richmond Greek Festival for dinner. I brought about $50 to spend.
After purchasing 4 dinners, 2 fries and 2 lemonades we had $8 left.
First choice - wine or dessert?
OK, this was tricky for me, but I wanted to spend it on something the kids could also enjoy so that ruled out wine.
Next choice - $3 popsicles or $2.50 for baklava?
The kids swore they would share a single popsicle since we didn’t have enough cash on hand for 3. However, my 2 year old wasn’t committing to the deal and, frankly, I wasn’t buying it. Besides, how often do we get great baklava?! We’re at the Richmond Greek Festival, we have to take advantage of it! I told the kids that we were going to get the baklava because it was something that I couldn’t make or easily buy most of the time.
We bought two baklava to share and told the kids we could buy a $3 box of popsicles at the grocery store. This seems pretty innocent, but it was actually a good lesson on substitution for the kids. And a nice reminder for us.
We all have to make choices. We need to stop and think “what is the best use of our money?” Sometimes when we get creative we come up with an even better solution.
- Make it easy on yourself by consolidating accounts and automating your savings.
- Mistakes happen, don’t give up on sticking to your spending plan.
- You're busy, save automatically.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no” to some of the spending requests that come your way (kids sports, friends for drinks, etc.)
- Use cash for your trouble areas.
What are your top tips for sticking to your spending plan?
Not sure a spending plan is really for you? Find out why I ask people to take a second look at their spending.
Need some help setting up a spending plan? You can easily create a spending plan today!
Looking for a bare bones spending plan? Try the Anti-Budget Budget!