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I have always enjoyed looking for creative ways to save and earn money. Then, after the births of our daughters, the need for saving money became more of a necessity than any other time in my life. My husband and I went from earning two full-time incomes to living off of one full-time income and my part-time income. Plus, we had many new expenses like diapers and other necessities for baby! We had to cut our spending in order to pay the bills and stay afloat.
With two little ones three and under, we are constantly looking for ways to save money and spend less. Below is a list of my top-10 strategies for spending less and saving more.
How to Spend Less Money
- Borrow when you can. – Check out books from the library and borrow tools from your neighbors. Kitchen items like beverage dispensers, cake stands, and even certain appliances like turkey fryers can often be borrowed from family and friends for special occasions. Kids’ clothing and furniture can also be shared among family and friends if the timing works out. For example, I was able to borrow a bassinet from my brother after the birth of his second child and return it prior to the birth of his third.
- Resale when done using the product. – Rather than holding on to clothing, furniture, and baby products after you no longer have use for them, try reselling the items at resale stores like Kid to Kid. You can also try posting items to a neighborhood Facebook group that allows selling or reach out to family and friends to see if anyone knows someone who may want to purchase your items. Having a yard sale can also be a great way to get rid of clutter and make a little cash.
- Make do with what you have. – Repurpose the furniture you already have. By simply changing out the knobs or repainting a piece to match your desired style, you can save yourself the time and money you would spend looking for a replacement piece of furniture.
- Remember quality over quantity. – My husband often refers to the phrase, “Buy once, cry once,” when I’m trying to decide whether to go cheap on a purchase. When we first got married, I thought cheaper was always the better choice. The longer we’ve been married and the more stuff I have owned, however, the more I’ve learned that there are times when cheaper is definitely not the better option. For example, I purchased a cheap piece of furniture for one of my first apartments, and it fell apart before I moved out a year later. I have also had articles of clothing not last more than a couple of washes. Once I started paying more for better quality items, I’ve made less purchases and been happier with my purchases.
- Be smarter when going out to eat. – Let’s face it. Cooking every meal every day for a family is not easy; sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the cooking and enjoy a night out at a restaurant. Find restaurants in your area where kids eat free on certain nights and try to only go when your kids will eat free. Other strategies for saving money when eating out include sharing a meal with your spouse, order an appetizer as your meal, and order water as your beverage.
- Wait to buy. – If you see something you have to have, wait. Take some time to think it over. If you decide you want to move forward with your purchase, compare prices at multiple retailers before buying.
- Negotiate. – Remember that many things are negotiable. One of my favorite negotiating strategies that I’ve used that has saved us hundreds if not thousands is negotiating the price of a trade-in vehicle. Anytime I am considering trading in my vehicle at a used car dealership, I first take my vehicle to CarMax to get a “real offer.” Then, I go to the dealer where the vehicle that I want to purchase is located and ask them for an offer for my trade-in. Each time that I’ve done this, the dealer has offered less than CarMax. That’s when I hand over my offer from CarMax and ask the dealer to beat the CarMax offer. Every time, they have either matched or beaten that offer. All it took was a quick trip to CarMax to maximize the value of my trade-in.
- Return new/unused items. – If you purchase something that doesn’t fit or you later realize you don’t need, return it. Don’t let it hang in your closet with the tags if you’re never going to wear it. If you made an impulse purchase, and you realize you don’t really need the item, simply return it for a refund.
- Earn cash back. – Shop smarter. Use amazing cash back websites like Ebates and Ibotta to easily earn money when shopping. Take advantage of cash back credit cards wisely by charging all of your purchases but paying off your balance in full each month.
- Enjoy free entertainment. – Take the family out for a fun afternoon at Bass Pro and look at the fish, boats, ATVs, and more. Check with your local library for story times. Give your kids plenty of time to play, run, and swing at the local park/playground. Shopping malls are also a great place to find things to do with the kids, and of course, there’s always the Chick-fil-A playground!