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11 Money-Saving Tips for Families and Parents with Kids

Raising children can cost a lot of money, it's a fact and with the rising cost of living and looming recession the pressure can be high on family budgets. Here are my top 11 strategies on to save money for families and parents with children. Add them to your budget for extra savings.

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1. Save money on after-school and vacation care.

This one is a biggie for many families. We do this by organising play dates at home instead - this is great for 5 to11-year-olds.

I work from home and so during the holidays we organise play dates with friends at my place, and theirs. This way my daughter has a buddy to play with and I can get work done without having to rely on screen time too much.

Yes, they might need your attention or help still from time to time, or you might have to make lunch or snacks, but it's totally worth it. One of our friends has a fussy eater, so she simply packs her child a lunch box to bring with. You could do that too.

If you don't work from home you can "return the favour" by having the other child over on your day off / or on the weekend so that perhaps the other parent can have time to catch up on work, housework or whatever needs doing.

We also save money on after-school care by having friends over after school. Once a week we swap pick-ups after school with another friend and have the children hang out with us until dinner or even slightly after. The following week, my daughter goes there.

2. Save money when heading out to playgrounds, the beach, etc.

The best way? Try to bring your own snacks.

And water! $3 a bottle can quickly add up. BYO coffee too, you can make quality coffee much cheaper at home and bring it along in a keep cup or an insulated cup.

Of course, I'm not saying never to buy food from a cafe, a takeaway place or treat your kids to ice cream. No, but when you're on a budget and your goal is to save money you can work that into your eating out or entertainment budget (more on that next).

3. Eating out with kids on a budget

Set aside money in your budget for eating out - work with your circumstances, schedule and goals. It doesn't have to be a fancy night out - takeaway is great to break up the routine.

It could be a hot chocolate and cupcake at the end of a week or even a fast food night. These are all great ways to enjoy a meal out with a budget in mind.

At restaurants and cafes, order a big main like Spag Bol and share. On weekends, order a big breakfast and share that as well. Order extra sides to bulk out the meal, they are cheap and substantial most of the time so one meal with a couple of extras can feed two.

I share more tips in the caption here.

For fast food, download store apps from the chains that run special offers, allow you to collect loyalty points and earn freebies. Suss out the best deals of the week and use them.

4. Rotate toys.

Excess in any form can actually be overwhelming for children.

Every fortnight or month pack away some of their toys in a box or a cupboard. The novelty when you start rotating toys will be exciting and your children will be finding it much easier to engage with the toys because there is less choice.

5. Shop clothes out of season or buy second-hand for extra savings.

If you want new items, discount department stores such as Big W, Kmart, and Target often discount clothes when the new season stuff comes in (think winter/summer and summer/winter rotations). You can pick up tees and shorts for $1-$2 and trackies, hoodies, and long-sleeve tops for $1-$5. Buy the next size up for next year.

Alternatively, find clothes and clothes bundles on FB marketplace (you can sell your children's clothes on there too) to save money. Out-of-season stock is also often discounted here too.

Thrift stores are another great option for quality clothes at a fraction of the cost.

Purchase second-hand school uniforms and textbooks during school fundraising sales or look for uniforms and textbooks on pages such as the Sustainable School Shop which offers private listings (and sell yours on there too).

6. Limit single-serve packaged food to lunch boxes only to make things more budget-friendly.

If you are purchasing single-serve items, aside from finding the best prices and deals at half price or from discount grocery stores, try to limit their use at home to a minimum.

At home and for outings, portion out snacks from big packets and tubs. This includes chips, corn chips, popcorn, yoghurt, etc.

7. Toys and books savings.

Limit new toy purchases to big occasions: birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Eid, etc.

Buy second-hand (they can be new and unopened items or simply barely used items like doll houses, matchbox cars, and even bikes for example). Otherwise, keep an eye out for toy sales and buy then, taking advantage of additional loyalty points and discounts.

Find a local toy library and use a local library to borrow toys and books instead of purchasing new ones. Find freebies on marketplace or local parenting groups.

PS Books don't resell well on marketplace so you could buy them cheaply there and either donate or sell them as a bundle when you're finished with them.

8. Extra-curricular activities