7 Proven Tips for Parents to Save This Summer
August 5, 2020 | by tiffany park, guest contributor
We all could use a little extra financial fitness - especially parents. This year, with the economic distress of the current pandemic, many of us have a heightened awareness of the need to pinch pennies. With some clear-cut tips and added intention, you can successfully thrive this summer with your finances still in-tact.
Balance work and family time
A recent survey found that 70% of families are financially struggling in present circumstances. While many lost jobs due to closures and lay-offs, 44% said their reason for losing income was that they lost child care, so they had to be available for their kids. If your family needs extra income, see if you can find remote work (at least for the time being). Use these ideas to help make working at home with kids run more smoothly. To name a few, take advantage of early morning or late night hours, as well as naptime or "quiet time" for a couple hours in the afternoon. Tag team with your partner, a relative, or a friend. Keep the kids entertained by setting up activity stations, encouraging outside time, or maybe relaxing your screen time restrictions a little. Enlisting your children's help with household chores will also save you a bit of time and energy. Finally, when spending time with your kids, really be present for that quality time with them. This will help them feel less deprived when work makes you unavailable.
Be shopping savvy
If you're a bit of a shopaholic, order items online to avoid impulsive spending. Use tools like this browser extension to ensure you're getting the best deal on your purchase. It's also helpful to buy generic-brand products, and to buy seasonal items at the end of the season (wrapping paper, toys, and coats in January, swimsuits in August).
Save on groceries
Use these ideas for buying grocery items in bulk when they're on sale, and maintaining a stocked pantry so you're less tempted to eat out. Buying in bulk really pays off if you try this hack of organizing a cooking group—coordinate with other families in your community so that each has a designated weeknight to provide dinner for all the other families. This will also save you cooking time several nights a week. Of course, the tried-and-true approach of planting a garden can always spare you some change on produce (and yes, you can involve the kids in gardening projects). Additionally, if you have a baby to feed and want formula made of clean, organic ingredients, check out options offered by Little Bundle. We help parents save with free shipping on orders over $50, a baby satisfaction guarantee, and choices to buy in bulk for less.
Be creative and resourceful
Many stores are still running low on cleaning products. But simple vinegar or ammonia—fairly common household items—are actually disinfectants. Check out these Good Housekeeping recipes for easy homemade cleaners with ingredients you likely have on hand already. You can find more ideas for homemade soaps, beauty, or cleaning products at DIY Natural. Or, for more do-it-yourself parenting hacks (like a laundry basket for a baby bathtub, or pool noodles for childproofing corner protectors), take a look at this post.
It takes a bit of extra imagination to organize family experiences that don't break the bank and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Check out these simple, COVID-safe outdoor adventures your family can still enjoy this summer. Read books (see if your local library has online lending options), play games, build forts, go camping, make arts and crafts. While things are a bit restricted right now, there are still plenty of options to keep everyone in the family busy and happy.
There are so many streaming services available now, you could probably cut cable costs without feeling deprived. Turn off the lights when you're not in a room. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth or wash your hair, and teach your kids water conservation habits, too.
Save for a rainy day
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it's that it always pays to prepare for the unexpected. With every paycheck, set money aside to save for retirement or emergencies. Start small - put as low as 1% of your income into a savings account, and slowly increase that amount every month. Work up to setting aside 6 months of income in case of unemployment or other surprises. Another important part of saving is living below your means. Take a good look at your budget and see where you can earn more or spend less, to ensure there is always something left after expenses are paid.
Saving money can be difficult, but some discipline and ingenuity will take you a long way. Your family (and your pocketbook) will thank you for the insight and diligence that will see you through these unusually tough times.
Tiffany Park is a parenting, health, and communications writer with a passion for improving family connection for herself and others. Having studied communications and early childhood education, she loves finding and sharing ideas to help parents and families thrive. She enjoys learning new things, seeing different perspectives, and seeking fun adventures with her husband and toddling daughter.