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When you have a growing family to take care of, just getting everyone through the day can be such an accomplishment that there’s little time for anything else. You want saving money to be a priority, but it often gets relegated to the back burner when you have toddlers to look after, errands to run, and meals to prepare, not to mention the demands of work, either inside or outside of the home. 

A smiling family saves money with a piggy bank. Happy family at the table in the room.

However, when you have a bank of creative ideas to choose from (and some guidance from other parents who’ve been there and done it all before), implementing new ways for your family to save money can actually be fun, not to mention rewarding. 

Whether you’re a new mom or a parent to tweens or teens, take a few minutes to peruse these 10 easy money-saving hacks. They’ve all been tried and tested by other families, and they could help free up some of your budget for making important purchases, taking a well-deserved vacation, or simply building up your savings for retirement or higher education goals. 

Visit your local library to attend free events (and sign your kids up for a summer reading program while you’re there)

You’re probably already very familiar with your local library, and have enjoyed borrowing books for your entire family for years. But beyond the books themselves, public libraries are an amazing resource for families. Chances are, your library has a schedule of free events, workshops, and groups that are just waiting for you to take advantage of. 

For families with young children, libraries provide an easy after-school or weekend destination that won’t cost you a penny (unless you’re holding onto a stack of overdue books, of course!). Many libraries host events such as children’s sing-a-longs, magic shows, storytelling, seasonal activities, arts and crafts clubs, and so much more. You might also discover an activity that you enjoy as well, as most libraries also host lectures for adults, in addition to book clubs, parents’ groups, genealogy workshops, and author visits. 

The best thing to do is to check out your library’s website for a full list of what’s on offer, or just call up your local library to speak to a librarian. 

Furthermore, the summer months are undoubtedly the best part of the year for spending time at the library, as most offer summer reading programs with incentives to get children excited about books. You’ll be amazed at how excited your kids will get at the prospect of earning prizes just by reading! 

Male teacher helping his students to using a laptop while sitting in the library

If you’re wondering what books your kids should read, here are some ideas: 

Find discounts and earn cashback while shopping online with these free browser extensions 

Whether you shop online for all of your family’s needs, such as groceries and clothes, or whether you just make the occasional online purchase, there’s a good chance that you’re paying too much. One of the best ways to make sure that you’re getting the best possible price is to install a free browser extension such as Wikibuy or Honey. These add-ons are super easy to use and won’t slow your computer down or send you annoying spam. 

In just a few clicks, you can add Wikibuy or Honey (or both!) to your browser, and then carry on browsing the Internet as you normally would. It’s only when you’re shopping that you’ll notice the extensions trying to help you out. The best thing about both Wikibuy and Honey is that they automatically search for and apply any available coupon codes to your shopping cart, to make sure you don’t lose out on easy savings at checkout. You’ll also earn loyalty credits that can be turned into online gift cards for Amazon, Walmart, Target, and dozens of other retailers. 

Wikibuy has another cool feature: comparing prices between online stores and alerting you when there’s a lower price somewhere else. For example, if you’re looking for a new printer on the Staples website, but Best Buy is selling the same item for a lower price, Wikibuy will let you know so that you don’t miss out on the better deal. Honey has a similar feature, but it only works with Amazon sellers, whereas Wikibuy’s price comparison tool works with Amazon, eBay, and dozens of other websites, as well. 

Spend less at the grocery store (and help your little one eat healthier) by making your own baby food

The idea of making your own baby food might sound daunting and time-consuming, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to store-bought jars and pouches. It’s a fantastic way to save money, since you can make large batches all at once and store them in the freezer. Your homemade purees will never go bad, and they’ll be on hand whenever you need them.

Besides saving you money, there are loads of other benefits when you make your own baby food. Not only will you be able to decide exactly what goes into your baby’s tummy (no unfamiliar ingredients, strange additives, or preservatives), but you can tailor your recipes to your little one’s preferred tastes. By making your own food, you’ll see exactly what fruits and vegetables are going into your baby’s food, and you can choose to use hand-selected organic produce, if you want. You’ll also be making a sustainable and eco-friendly choice, as you won’t need to worry about all of the packaging associated with store-bought baby food. 

Additionally, you’ll be able to create unique combinations in your purees that you know your baby will love. You probably won’t be able to find green bean-carrot-and-apricot (with a dash of cinnamon) puree at the grocery store, but if that’s what your baby enjoys eating, you can easily make it at home! And if your little one is just starting out with solid food, you can also include breast milk in your purees to make them more agreeable to your baby.

Also, most store-bought baby food is very heavy on the fruit, which has tons of natural sugar. If you make baby food at home, you can focus more on veggies (with a little fruit thrown in if you want), which will help your baby develop a broader palate and enjoy lots of tastes, rather than just sweets!

It’s incredibly easy to make your own baby food, and you only need a few things to get started: a large pot with a steamer basket, a roasting pan, a blender or food processor, ice cube trays, and reusable storage containers for when you’re out and about. Check out these tips for making homemade baby food (even with a busy schedule). Anyone can do it, and you can start right away!

Buy diapers and baby formula in bulk for convenience and major savings

As every parent knows, diapers are a fact of life. Whether you’re discovering how to change a diaper for the first time as a new mom, or you’ve wiped enough bottoms to do it in your sleep, there’s no avoiding the constant need for diapers. All parents of babies and toddlers need to keep their diaper bags well stocked, and the best way to do this is to buy in bulk. Heading to Costco and buying the largest package of diapers you can find is one solution, but there’s an even easier way if you’re an Amazon Prime member. To save yourself time (and find even better prices), setting up a recurring Subscribe & Save order on Amazon will automatically get you a 5% discount.

However, if you want to unlock more significant savings, setting up five Subscribe & Save orders will give you a 15%-20% discount. Five subscriptions might sound like a lot, but if you’re ordering diapers, wipes, baby food, snacks, and formula, you’re already there! Getting your household essentials delivered will also help you avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store. This larger discount is just one perk of Amazon Family, which is a free benefit for Prime members. Other bonuses include a free Welcome Box with goodies for your newborn, a 15% completion discount on your baby registry, and coupons that correspond to your child’s age.  

Just like diapers, baby formula is another essential that is far more affordable when purchased in large quantities. Whether you’re exclusively formula feeding, combination feeding, or transitioning from breastfeeding to formula for the first time, it’s important to have a ready supply of the formula your baby loves. You don’t want to have to introduce a new formula simply because you’ve run out. Buying in bulk will ensure that you always have enough formula.

Many formula retailers offer great discounts when you buy a certain amount at once. For example, Little Bundle, a U.S. retailer of organic European baby formulas, offers discounts of up to 12% when you buy multiple boxes in a single order. 

With both diapers and formula, if you somehow end up with too much, or your little one has a growth spurt, you’ll undoubtedly find friends, neighbors, or relatives who would be more than happy to take the extras off your hands. You could also consider donating the diapers or formula to a homeless shelter or women’s charity.

Get a head start on paying for college with scholarships and qualified tuition plans

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to pay for your child’s education. Setting up a tax-advantaged qualified tuition plan is a great way to invest in your child’s future from a very young age. The sooner you start, the more money will be available when your child is ready to leave the nest. Other people in your child’s life can also get involved by contributing to the qualified tuition plan. Not only will this help fund your child’s education, but it will also give friends and family members an easy (and incredibly meaningful) gift idea for your child’s next birthday. Grandparents frequently take an active role in contributing to prepaid tuition and education savings plans, as they are a wonderful way to leave a lasting legacy for their grandchildren. 

Scholarships are another fantastic tool for reducing the cost of higher education. In the past, students had to trawl through long lists of scholarships and would need to fill out a lengthy application form for each and every scholarship, without having any idea of their likelihood of being successful. More recently, however, a new type of scholarship platform has sprung up to match students with suitable scholarships. 

Bold.org is one such platform. Bold.org asks students to create a detailed profile about their education, interests, hobbies, preferred colleges, career aspirations, family background, and more. Students only need to do this once. They are then matched with the most relevant opportunities, which they can apply for directly through the website. In another forward-thinking move, Bold.org features numerous scholarships that are entirely unique to the platform, including many funded by prominent philanthropists and organizations.

Although some of the scholarships on Bold.org do require short essays (after all, the goal is to find the best and most deserving candidates), there are also many easy scholarships that don’t require an essay, as they simply rely on the student’s Bold.org profile. This is a great way for students to increase their chances of earning a scholarship, without spending hours on repetitive applications or pointless essays. 

It’s also worth noting that if you are a parent who is considering going back to school or pursuing an additional graduate degree, you’ll find scholarships on Bold.org that are suitable for returning or part-time students of any age and educational background.

About the Author: Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education for websites such as Little Bundle