Creative Ways to Save Money as a Family
After about six months of being married, my husband asked me, “How many kids do you want to have?”
I laughed, and said, “None.”
This was shocking to him because he wanted four.
So we compromised and had four.
Now I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to four kids.
My life is so far from what I dreamed when I played MASH in junior high because I was pretty sure I was going to marry a doctor and live in a mansion with zero kids.
My life is also WAY better than I dreamed because I’m happily married to my best friend and I love our four kids quite a lot.
God is good like that.
But since I’m not a millionaire, we have to find ways to save money so that I get to stay home and
go crazy educate our children.
We surveyed our readers for their best creative ways to save money as a family, and their answers were fantastic.
Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Cut Your Own Hair
Before you laugh, this one is from us.
My husband should probably start moonlighting as a barber because he’s pretty good at cutting hair.
He’s been cutting his own hair for about 20 years using a simple Wahl clipper set.
He trims most of his hair, and I just come along and trim up the back and any pieces he can’t see.
Since his $30 clippers were saving us $20 a month on his haircuts, when it came time to cut our son’s hair, we decided to try the clippers on him.
It went great, so we used them on our three-year-old son. That was a challenge because he is wiggly and rowdy, but it was no more difficult than holding him still at the salon.
So now the $30 clippers are saving us another $30-$40 every other month.
Then, it came time for the real challenge – our two girls needed hair cuts.
We decided that the worst case scenario was that we messed it up horribly and had to take them to a professional to get a hair cut.
So we went for it, and it was pretty easy.
I mean no disrespect to the talented women and men that cut hair vocationally, but cutting a couple inches off the bottom of my daughters’ hair was a breeze.
Now, they don’t have layers or texturing or bangs or anything fancy.
Their hair is cut straight across.
And for a four and ten-year-old it looks pretty great.
That’s another $30-$40 in savings.
At this point, I was the only one paying for hair cuts.
So one night after my shower, I had Chip (my husband) trim a couple inches off the bottom.
He did great!
And it was SO CONVENIENT.
Whenever I go to get my hair cut, I always try to dress up a little bit from my usual mom uniform of athleisure wear. My hairdressers are always dressed super cute and their hair is fabulous because that’s their job, so I want to look like I too, wear cute jeans and stylish shirts. Even if it is just for a one-hour excursion to the salon.
But this time I was able to get a hair cut in my PJs.
Recently, he cut about five inches off my hair, and I have gotten a ton of compliments on it.
I don’t know if that’s because it’s the first time people have seen me actually wear it down instead of up in a messy bun, (#momlife) or if it actually looks amazing, but I’ll take the compliments without much second-guessing.
So in total, we save about $600 a year by doing at home hair cuts.
And honestly, that’s a VERY conservative estimate.
That’s with me only going twice a year, the girls three times a year, and the boys every other month.
And that’s going to a very affordable (Walmart) salon to get $15-20 haircuts for the kids.
2. Buy Used Clothing
We buy 90% of our kid’s clothing used.
We are very blessed and are given hand-me-downs from several friends, but for almost everything else, we buy used.
My kids are rough on clothes because they’re kids.
For us, clothes serve one purpose: to keep us from being naked.
I want my kids to be able to go outside and investigate earthworms and try to dig a hole to see if they can reach the core without worrying that they’ll mess up their expensive clothes.
They’re young enough that they don’t care if their pants are Nike or Walmart and as rough as they are on them, they’ll all tear up equally fast. So we buy our clothes from a couple of different places.
ThredUp is an online consignment and thrift shop with awesome deals. They only sell name brand clothing that is in pristine condition.
We order most of my ten-year-old’s clothes from ThredUp because she now has an opinion about what she wears.
I try to make it a fun, bonding experience because shopping with a preteen can be tough.
By making it a special time together after the other kids are in bed, we both have a better attitude.
I also ask my daughter to make a list of the clothes she thinks she needs. She is typical first born and loves making lists.
We go through her list together and discuss each piece before we add it to the cart.
These shopping “trips” have opened up some really great conversations about modesty and other things.
ThredUp is also great because you can send in your unwanted clothes and they’ll buy them from you. So when you’re cleaning out closets, you can send in clothes to make a little bit of money back!
If you use this code, you’ll get $10 off your first order and I’ll get $10 off my next order. 🙂
Swap is an online consignment shop just like ThredUp, but they have cheaper clothes than ThredUp.
By that I mean they sell cheaper clothes (Circo, Granimals, Old Navy, Xhilaration) so their prices are lower.
They also buy used clothing and are much less particular in what they take.
In fact, I’ve made over $1100 sending boxes of used clothing to them.
If you use this referral link, you’ll get 20% off your order and I’ll get $10 off my next order. 🙂
You can get some awesome deals on bulk lots of clothing on eBay.
A bulk lot of clothing is a group of clothing bundled together to sale. For example – a lot of 25 girl’s clothes size 4T or a lot of 6 pairs of boy’s shoes size 8.
Last year I ordered 8 pairs of Carter’s footie pajamas for my son for $20. They normally retail for $18 a piece. He wore them all winter, and then we passed them on to a friend.
I’ve bought several lots of size and gender-specific clothing like “6X boys clothes” and been very happy with the quality and price.
Just make sure to read the full description and look closely at all the pictures.
Local Resale Shops
In our post about Where to Get Inventory to Sell on eBay, we wrote about shopping at local resale shops. The same principle applies to our own closets.
I get great deals on clothes and shoes for my kids when I’m shopping for stuff to sell on eBay. We’ve gotten Converse, Nikes, Vans, Toms, and Adidas shoes for $4.00.
The only exception to our used clothing rule is church clothes.
We still make our kids dress up for church and we make sure that they are wearing nice clothing to church.
And it’s not just because my husband is the pastor and we don’t want our kids to look like ragamuffins at his job.
It’s mostly for their hearts and behavior.
If you’re interested in our views on dressing up for church, read our post The Real Reason I Make My Kids Dress Up for Church.
3. Shop Facebook MarketPlace for Gifts
All of our kids have loved Little People toys by Fisher Price.
Which is awesome because they foster creative play and imagination and they’re sturdy well-made toys.
What’s not awesome is that they’re kind of pricey.
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My daughter really wanted this Little People princess castle for her fourth birthday.
Before we spent that much money on a toy, I checked the Facebook marketplace.
A lady in our town was selling the nicer castle for $20!
I met her in her church parking lot, had a perfect transaction, and Cloroxed that castle when we got home.
It was a perfect gift and cost less than a trip to Sonic for our family of six.
Since then, we’ve bought a lot of stuff for the kids off the Facebook Marketplace.
Bicycles, a Fisher-Price kitchen, outside play equipment, a PowerWheels dune buggy, etc.
We’ve also sold stuff on the Facebook Marketplace when we didn’t want to go to the trouble to list it on eBay.
Just make sure to be careful when meeting people.
4. Make Your Own Hand Soap
We started making our own hand soap when our oldest son developed eczema.
The cheap store bought soap was really harsh on his skin and the organic soap was really expensive.
There are also several studies linking antibacterial soap containing triclosan to contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and interrupting the endocrine function. You can read more about it on the NRDC website.
We make our own foaming hand soap using castile soap and it costs less than $1 per bottle.
For our recipe, read our post about cheap, foaming hand soap.
5. Make Your Own Napkins
We lived in Tennessee for four years, and it was cold.
Being from Texas, I wasn’t ready that first winter when the temperatures reached zero.
We quickly went out and bought flannel sheets and continued to stockpile them every time they went on sale at Target.
Then we moved back to Texas and had flannel sheets we never used.
We also had kids that used about 53 napkins per meal.
So one day we cut our sheets into small squares and started using them as napkins. That was four years ago, and they’re still working great.
We have a small basket beside the sink that we put the dirty napkins in, and every other day I wash a load of clothes with bleach.
We throw those in and let our three-year-old “fold them.”
Which just means she lays them out into our napkin holder very slowly and neatly.
We cut our sheets to be pretty small squares (about 9 inches by 9 inches) because that’s what works best for us. You can make them as big or small as you want!
I did buy a rotary cutter and mat after spending an hour cutting with scissors.
It was so slow, and my hand got sore. The rotary cutter cut the time WAAAY down once I got the hang of it and the napkins looked better because I was cutting in a straight line.
6. Make Your Own Snack Baggies
As a mom of four, grabbing snacks on the go is life.
It is so convenient to buy the preportioned individual bags of goldfish.
But it is so much more expensive!
One of my friends is a thrifty genius, and she packs snacks in baggies once a week.
She does enough grab and go bags of their favorite snacks for the entire week and stores them all in one basket.
Her kids are able to get their own snacks throughout the week, but that’s not all.
She takes thriftiness to the next level.
She has her kids put the empty baggies back in the basket and she reuses them the next week!
7. Teach Them a Profitable Pastime
This may step on some toes but bear with me. Or just skip this suggestion altogether.
The average family who participates in competitive sports spends about $3,000 per year on them after you account for hotels, food on the road, league fees, practice space rental, lessons, shoes, uniforms, tournament fees, etc.
And only a tiny percentage of students ever go on to play any sports at a professional level.
So what if we taught our kids to spend their time on a pass time that is profitable?
What if we taught our kids how to sell things on eBay?
Then they could use that skill to buy their own cars when they turn 16.
To buy their first house.
I’m not sure why so many parents think it’s important to make sure our kids have fun.
Life isn’t meant to be fun.
In John 16:33 Jesus tells us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So why is it so important to make sure our children are doing things they enjoy – especially expensive things???
What if we taught them to enjoy hard work and the benefits of working hard?
What if we taught kids how to repair small engines?
Or how to mow yards and landscape?
I’ve never met an adult that has complained about their parents making them work hard and learn skills as a child.
8. Buy Food That is on Clearance
I have another friend who buys food on clearance and plans her menu around those purchases.
She enjoys the challenge of making meals around the food instead of buying food around the meals.
Her kids are very adventurous eaters because they constantly have such a wide variety of food for dinner.
And the discounts she gets are pretty amazing.
9. Host A Clothing Swap
A friend and I once organized a clothing swap at our church and it was epic.
We invited a ton of moms to bring their kid’s too small clothes to the church.
We had tables set up and labeled with the different sizes, and everyone just unloaded their clothes in the right place.
After about two weeks of gathering clothes, we had a Saturday shopping day.
On that Saturday morning, we had donuts and coffee and moms came and shopped.
They all brought their own bags and filled them with whatever clothes, toys, or shoes they needed for their kids.
It was all free, and it truly felt like how Jesus intended for the church to work.
Acts 2:44 says, “And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had”.
This was also a great ministry opportunity for our church to be the church to lots of people in our community who didn’t have a church home.
We got to talk to women we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to talk to because of the swap.
Plus we all got clothes for our kids for FREE.
10. Use Edible Landscaping
If you live in a house, you probably have some space around your house that needs to be landscaped.
Or maybe you are adulting way better than me and your space is landscaped.
For me, every time I walk up to my front door and see the few scraggly bushes in the mulchy area close to my house, I feel guilty.
I know I need to plant some attractive plants there, but it’s so far down on the list of priorities I can’t even see it!
So the other day, we went to eat at a local restaurant and they had these beautiful heads of cabbage planted as landscaping.
My mind was a bit blown.
The cabbage looked beautiful, but it was also functional.
Isn’t it pretty?!?!
I immediately went home and googled decorative edible plants, and there are a ton of plants that grow food AND look nice!
That knowledge moved landscaping way up on my list of priorities!
In conclusion, kids are expensive.
Most families can’t afford to do it all, so you’ve got to find creative ways to save money together as a family.
Getting your kids involved in saving money is important.
They learn their money habits from us, so we need to be as transparent as possible with our financial decisions.
What are some other creative ways to save money as a family? Tell us in the comments!