Big families are an absolute pleasure, but anybody who’s in one — be they parent or child — will tell you that they’re almost never easy on the old pocketbook, so to speak. All those kids add up, and between food, shelter, school, and activities, there can be a significant amount of money that two parents have to be responsible for on a very regular basis. At a time when things are tight for most of the entire country, things can be especially tight for those of us with a pretty big gaggle of kids that we’re trying to take care of, keep fed, and entertain on a regular basis. Luckily, there are a ton of ways to protect that budget and save a few bucks, even when you’ve got a ton of troops to take care of and are having a tough time doing it without slipping into the red. We’ll talk about some of the most practical ways you can save a few bucks when you’ve got a big family.
1. Monthly Budget. When you’re really wanting to tighten the belt, a budget is one of the best ways that you can possibly go about doing it. Sit down with your spouse and determine exactly what your responsibilities are each month. Compare this with your combined incomes, so you can figure out exactly how much wiggle room you have at the end of the day, after you’ve taken care of the most pressing financial responsibilities. This also helps you interact with your finances in a more direct way, so you can better monitor your spending.
2. Cut out Non-Essential Stuff. Once you’ve made that budget, maybe you can pare it down a little bit. Taking a look at everything upon which you’re spending money each month is a great way to isolate the things you don’t actually need. Maybe, if things are especially tight, you can cut out that Netflix subscription or make a few less trips to the local restaurant for meals out.
3. Shop Smarter. Have you tried wholesale? When you’ve got a whole family to take care of…well, just think of the two words that are put together, there. “Whole” and “sale.” You can get a better sale on stuff for your whole family! And it doesn’t end there. Don’t be afraid to leverage the powers of the Internet, that you might find better deals and discounts on the stuff you’ll need. Subscription-based services like LivingSocial and Google Offers can even point you in the direction of really cheap stuff that you’ll need on the regular.
4. Get Active! Lots of fun stuff is free if you know where to look. Take up hiking! Hit the beach! If you can find ways to really engage yourself and the world around, you’d be surprised at how much free stuff there is to do. Even just getting outside to sit and read a book is a great alternative to some form of entertainment that might see you spending money.
5. Travel Locally. You don’t need to be seeking discounts on Orbitz to save money on your family adventures. Try finding hidden stuff right around you — there’s always something new to discover in your hometown, and by staying a little more local, you can save a bundle of cash.