Raising a family is expensive, no matter how you look at it. We all want to save money, but it can be difficult to turn that desire into tangible, real-world ideas that you can put into practice in your daily life.
Saving money used to be simpler — cutting coupons, looking out for sales, getting advice from friends and family. But with more transactions taking place online, paper coupons seem to have become a thing of the past. And although there are tons of offers, deals, and promotions out there, how can you tell what’s a genuine money-saving tool, and what’s a scam?
We’ve collected a handful of the best money-saving tips that every parent can try. And although we can’t promise you a new car or a luxury vacation, our tips can help keep your family’s finances on track.
Best of all, these suggestions won’t take up much of your time, and most of them are actually fun! They’re simple ideas for saving money that you can start incorporating immediately into your family’s everyday routine.
1. Add the free Wikibuy browser extension to locate the best online deals, automatically apply coupon codes, and earn loyalty credits
Shopping online is an indispensable part of modern life, especially for busy parents, but with the proliferation of online retailers comes uncertainty about getting the best deals. Sure, you could spend time clicking between websites to compare the prices of outdoor grills at Amazon, Walmart, and Lowe’s, or you could let Wikibuy do that for you — without the extra searching and clicking!
Wikibuy is a free browser extension that works seamlessly as you shop. It’s basically an online shopping assistant. You just visit the websites you normally would, and Wikibuy will let you know if another retailer has a better deal on the item you’re viewing. For example, if you’re about to buy a pair of headphones from Best Buy, but there’s a better price on the same headphones at Target, you’ll see a helpful little notification from Wikibuy with details and a link to the cheaper offer.
One of Wikibuy’s other awesome features is that it automatically searches for coupon codes and applies them to your shopping cart. Wikibuy will test every single coupon and apply the code that gives you the biggest discount, so you won’t miss out on any savings. It’s a huge time saver, since you’ll never have to frantically Google “promo codes” again!
Wikibuy has lots of other useful tools, including a Watchlist for keeping an eye on the price of items you’re interested in but aren’t ready to buy right away. It’s perfect for big purchases like electronics and furniture, and Wikibuy will always let you know as soon as the price drops.
Using Wikibuy will also earn you loyalty credits that you can turn into gift cards for your favorite retailers, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco, Barnes & Noble, and many more. You can even earn credits when you make purchases from selected restaurants in your local area.
2. Use these websites to find out when and where kids eat free
If you have a growing family, dining out can morph from a spontaneous treat to an anxiety-inducing assault on your wallet. Even with kid’s menus, eating at a casual restaurant as a family often costs as much as a fine dining experience for two adults.
Luckily, there are a growing number of restaurants that offer “Kids Eat Free” (or nearly free) deals either all the time or on certain days of the week. Sitting down at a restaurant and discovering that you’ve serendipitously found one of these deals is great, but it doesn’t have to be luck!
Instead, there are a variety of websites that list which restaurants offer “Kids Eat Free” deals, as well as information about where and when those deals are offered, what ages are covered, and if there are any other conditions.
Here are some websites to try:
- Best Wallet Hacks: 100+ Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
- Brad’s Deals: Where Can Kids Eat Free?
- Good Housekeeping: Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free 2020
Planning ahead takes the guesswork out of family dining, so you won’t have any unexpected bills on your next restaurant visit. This can be especially useful when you’re on a family vacation and don’t have the option to cook at home.
Just a word of caution — it’s always a good idea to call ahead and make sure that a particular location is actually offering the advertised “Kids Eat Free” deal, as offers may vary between franchises or may be subject to change.
3. Invest in your child’s future with a qualified tuition plan
The prospect of paying for your child’s college education — especially if you have several children — is enough to keep any parent up at night. The cost of tuition, textbooks, and room and board seems to rise every year, with very little likelihood of slowing down.
For parents of young children, it may seem easier to delay thinking about college, especially when there are so many costs associated with raising a baby or toddler. However, early childhood is exactly the time to start planning for how you’ll afford higher education.
That’s because all 50 states offer at least one type of “qualified tuition plan,” also known as a 529 plan. These are tax-advantaged savings plans that you can start paying into at any time, whether your little one is learning to walk or is already borrowing the family car. The earlier you open an account, the bigger the savings over time. And if you open a prepaid tuition plan, you can lock in the tuition rate at the time of opening the account, rather than having to contend with future tuition costs.
Planning ahead to help cover your child’s educational expenses means that when he or she is ready to leave the nest, you’ll have fewer worries about student loans or on-campus jobs. Additionally. 529 accounts are a fantastic way to get family members and friends involved, especially when it comes to birthday and Christmas gifts. Grandparents may be particularly interested in contributing to their grandchildren’s education and helping them to secure a bright future.