There’s no denying that having a baby can put a strain on the finances, especially if you’re dropping from two incomes to one. When you start a family, there are so many additional expenses that only increase as children grow. Basics like food, education, and clothing, and then the ‘extras’ such as holidays, birthdays, and Christmas or other cultural celebrations.
We’ve compiled a list of 12 money-saving hacks that will make your dollar stretch a bit further without you having to make any drastic lifestyle changes. We hope this helps to relieve some of the financial stress that can impact many families. Let us know if you have any tips to add to this list by sending us a message over on our Facebook page.
1. Join a toy library
Don’t spend a small fortune on new toys for your little one. Join a local toy library (find your nearest one here), and borrow an array of quality toys that have been designed to support your child’s development. They’ll never be bored because you can swap over what they play with every week or two! Don’t forget your library too for free books.
2. Find free baby activities
Instead of expensive mum and bub classes, find scheduled free activities at your local library or community centre. Or, simply organise some pram walks and playdates with other new parents.
3. Plan meals
Find out what deals the supermarkets are offering, and plan your meals around them. Create a list of easy meals (such as eggs on toast) or have a few freezer meals on standby for those nights when you might be tempted to get an expensive takeaway because you’re too tired to cook.
4. Stock up on gifts
Whenever there are sales, heavily discounted gifts, or you see something in an op shop that you could gift someone, buy them for the future rather than paying full price.
5. Join your local ‘buy nothing’ group
Search via social media (most likely Facebook) for your local group that lists items that are free. It might be called ‘buy nothing’, ‘good karma’, or ‘FTAGH’ (free to a good home), where you can pick up basically everything you need for a baby from clothes to a cot.
6. Join a house swap
Save thousands of dollars on a holiday by doing a free home swap. Sign up to a site (such as this one) to stay anywhere in Australia and around the world.
7. Set up or join a babysitting co-op
Trying to cut costs doesn’t have to mean that you never go out. With a group of local new parents, you can create a system in which you take it in turns to babysit each other’s little ones.
8. Cut back on subscriptions
Make a list of all your subscriptions, and see if you can cancel a couple of them. Can you survive on the free versions, or could you sign up for one this month and then cancel it while you sign up for another next month, rather than using several every month?
9. Reduce your bills
Shop around for cheaper deals or negotiate with your current service providers to see if there are any available discounts. You may need less data allowance now that you’re home and can mostly use Wi-Fi. See if you can switch to cheaper plans wherever possible. Cut back on fuel by walking more.
10. Save on celebrations and parties
Try to DIY as much as possible, and hold any parties at home if possible. You might like to check out our Memorable 1st birthday ideas on a budget and What babies really want for Christmas, for some bonus money-saving tips!
11. Take advantage of free entertainment
Find out what’s going on near you – it could be free outdoor movie screenings, class trials, library events, or simply spend the day at the beach or park, pack a picnic, and enjoy some nature and family time.
12. Reduce waste and be more environmentally aware
There are so many ways to reduce waste while saving money in the home, such as:
- Use cloth nappies, wipes, period undies, and breast pads
- Keep jars for storing food instead of using disposable sandwich bags and wraps
- Freeze all of your vegetable scraps and when you have enough, make a vegetable stock
- Try repairing things before throwing them away and replacing them
- Buy as many items second-hand as possible, and sell what you no longer need
- Grow your own herbs in pots (most of us usually throw away expensive herbs)
- Use reusable coffee cups (and fill them with your own coffee when you go out) and water bottles
- Reduce/avoid baby food pouches and packaged baby snacks (read our top tips when choosing commercial baby foods)
- Double up on the meals you make, and freeze some
- Make your own cleaning products using vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, and lemons