As a family of five, we work hard to be fiscally responsible. We want to make sure that we have the means necessary to carry out the activities that are important to us. Our first focus is making sure we meet our basic human needs. Once they are met, we look around to see what kind of fun we can have. In a large family, our fun is often times dependent upon our creativity. Where we live, it is completely doable to be creative, and the Internet fills the other gaps. Here are some cost effective strategies from my family.
First and foremost, we need clothing. I could say that I am a Goodwill and consignment store fan, but that is an understatement. At first, I wandered into Goodwill because I was a new mom buying professional clothing for work, but now, I can fully admit that it is an addiction. Most of my co-workers will agree that I have an obsession with the Goodwill. First, it’s great to lessen waste in our world. What one person is finished with, I can definitely appreciate, but the “hunt and score” aspect of this kind of shopping is incredibly fun. Like any addict, I have good and bad trips (pun intended), but I can find incredibly professional outfits for half the price of department stores. Sometimes, I find the clothes I need for 99 cents. Goodwill was where I first discovered how much I love H&M, White House Black Market, and American Eagle clothing.
In addition to meeting my own clothing needs, I often turn to consignment shops for my kids’ needs. I have no idea how parents out there keep clothing (especially boy clothing) nice and free of holes. Pristine, gently worn clothing is alive and well in consignment shops. The most important pieces that I find at these shops would be shoes for sports. I can find cleats, dance shoes, tennis shoes, and snow boots for about $3.00 a piece. Shoes such as these are only used for one season, so parents turn them in for cash, and I reap the benefits on the other end. These types of sports shoes are normally $50+ dollars brand new (Nike, Under Armour, Adidas), but I’m getting them for pennies after they’ve been worn for only one season. There are other seasonal items worthy of our stop as well. Coats, hats, gloves, swimming gear, etc. In the Omaha area, my favorite place for this is Big Wheels to Butterflies. If I am consignment shopping outside of the metro area, then a quick Google search of resale stores for children helps me get started. With three active children, I have saved hundreds.
Online Savings–Gift Cards Mailed Straight to me
Ebates is a website that gives me cash rebates when I shop online. When shoppers sign up for Ebates, they can activate offers on the websites they shop through that will give them a percentage cash back for online purchases. Ebates is free to sign up for and members can earn additional money by referring others.
Ebates works with many shopping websites such as Amazon, Ebay, Target, Walmart, Kohls, JC Penney, etc. Shoppers can also make money for every person they refer to Ebates. Any online order can have you saving a percentage of each purchase. My husband first told me about this, and I was skeptical. Then, just yesterday our $10.00 Target gift card came in the mail from simply buying something we were going to buy anyway on Amazon. Kelly will talk more about subscriptions like Amazon on Thursday, but Ebates is a nice addition to our money saving plan.
No Cost Workout Options
Working out is a daily obligation for me. I feel too good after a workout to quit doing it. Our family’s schedule does not allow for my husband and me to both hold memberships, so I do what I can to make challenging workouts fit into my schedule. When it’s nice outside, I run or play tennis with my kids. In addition, I have a friend at work who dreams up killer exercises at the high school where I work. We run stadium stairs, throw medicine balls, and work out on the treadmill in the weight room when it isn’t overrun with student athletes, but this is not possible for everyone. It’s also not possible for us every day, so we needed a solution. Over the years, we have found that mixing it up is essential for us to stay interested and challenged. YouTube is a wonderful tool. From a quick 20 minute work out from Jillian Michaels, to fun yoga tutorials, You tube has a lot to offer. However, when I’m feeling like a challenge, Blonde Ponytail is a website that offers gym workouts and home workouts.
The blog’s author, Jess Allen, puts together quick and tough routines that I can do at home, in my classroom (when everyone has left for the day), or even in hotel rooms. With most of the home workouts, I need no equipment and it’s almost all body weight. And it kills. Boy does it kill. She’s got seasonal, prenatal, postpartum, and regular workouts with strength and cardio options. I love this website, and my husband has even enjoyed some body-weight workouts that she has put together. Free, focused and fun? Well, I’ll let you be the judge.
$5.00 Movies All Day and Local Entertainment
Many of our favorite things to do can be expensive, but I find if I just search for the places I love, they inevitably have deals I wouldn’t be aware of otherwise. Our local movie theater which happens to be a Marcus Cinema has $5.00 Tuesdays. If there is a rainy day in the summer, you can bet we are enjoying a film. There are also affordable ways to keep local entertainment a constant in your family. For example, we like to attend our area’s high school athletic events and plays. The kids are able to see teenagers doing what they love, and get excited plus inspired to do similar activities when they are old enough.
Trust me, it can be a challenge to stay within budget with an active family, but I’ve tried to look at it like a project. The more creative I get, the better I feel about the strain on our pocketbooks. These are my current tricks to save money and time. We would love to hear yours. There are never enough money saving ideas, if you ask me. Every parent has a trick up his or her sleeve. What are your tricks? Please leave them in the comments or on our Facebook page.