Being a parent can be deflating. There never seems to be enough time in the day to make the right decisions for both your kids and your money. Though I do my best to be frugal, I am often tempted to just buy the latest gadget or the first thing I see that’s on my shopping list. Having been a parent for a while now — and having done a little research and testing of my own — I have a few parenting tips that can help with your family budget. I recommend these five easy ways to save money and reduce stress:
- Use filtered water dispensers.
- Sign up for a food subscription service.
- Take advantage of easy-to-use budgeting apps.
- Get your TV fix with a streaming service.
- Find deals with comparison-shopping apps.
1. Filtered Water Dispensers
Growing up in a rural area with only untreated well water from the tap, my mom had to buy cases of water for us in the thousands. Now that I'm a parent myself, I’m equally concerned about the quality of water that my family drinks. That said, I just can’t bring myself to buy (or carry) those cases of water.
This is why I love my large filtered water dispensers. Ours holds 40 gallons of water and lasts about two months. Now we fill our own personal bottles before leaving home for the gym or the mall. Money saved on plastic saves the planet!
2. Food Subscription Services
I know what you’re probably thinking: No way can the food subscription services that are all the rage right now actually fit in a parent's family budget. I was a non-believer, too, but now I'm sold. The difference is perspective.
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Blue Apron is my favorite. For a Blue Apron Family Plan (enough for four servings), the cost is around $140 per month, including shipping. This totals about 16 meals per month. Their ingredients are very high-quality, and the recipes are inventive. They are a great substitute for going out for dinner, and they come with instructions that even kids can understand.
3. Budgeting Apps
I will admit that I am not the best with keeping a detailed budget. But I recently discovered a cool app, and I’m now a convert. HomeBudget costs $6 and is available on most phones.
While I usually hate the idea of paying for apps, this one is totally worth it if you really need to track where your money goes in real time.
While I’m a relatively new user, I’m hoping that it will help me see how I may be overspending with my daughter’s clothing allowance.
Don’t want to spend six bucks? Mint is free to use, easy to set up, and just as detailed. I used that app for years, and I’m still a big fan. However, I prefer the ultra-detailed personalization that HomeBudget allows. That said, both apps are awesome for parents looking to get a handle on their budgets.
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You can also take advantage of PocketSmith's free basic plan. PocketSmith is a money-management app that helps you manage your budget and plan for your future. Create your personalized account and let PocketSmith track your income and expenses so you can gain control of your money. The app offers insight into best budget budgeting practices according to your unique situation.
4. TV-Streaming Services
Have you cut your cable yet? You really need to cut the cord. When my husband first suggested it a few years back, I looked at him as if he was forcing me to give up my firstborn. It’s funny how we become so attached to that TV, especially when we have equally addicted children hogging it.
But with my Roku player and my Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, I haven’t missed out at all. I can watch my fill of daily news, binge-worthy movies, and Doc McStuffins reruns.
In return, I save $80 to $100 in cable costs each month. And, as a bonus, I never ever have to call and deal with cable providers.
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5. Comparison-Shopping Apps
I am a budget shopper. When I’m in a store, I pull up Amazon on my phone to compare prices. I like a good deal, especially on gifts or toys for my daughter and nieces. And for people like, there’s a useful hack that you may not know of: Amazon has its own free app that allows you to scan the barcode in person and then see its price on Amazon.
I also hate feeling rushed to buy something because it’s on sale. When it comes to alleviating that pressure, ShopSavvy has become my best friend.
Not only can I scan a barcode, save it, and be notified when it is on sale, but I can also use it to get cash back deals as well. As a parent, I can certainly appreciate a little cash return on my investments.
The Bottom Line on Your Family Budget
Saving money as a parent doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. With a few money-saving apps and family-friendly products, you can find easy ways to keep your money where it matters most — in your family budget.