Our Top Tips for Saving on Family Expenses

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A father and son play with toys together

Here’s some good news: your family can make a few small changes that add up to big savings over time.

1. Go Reusable

Disposable products, including water bottles, lunch bags, and paper goods like plates, cups, and towels are convenient, but they’re also expensive. Chances are that you’re probably spending a lot of money on disposable goods each month. Try swapping out bottles for reusable containers, and trade in your paper goods for reusable plates, cups, and towels to save some extra cash.

2. Buy Used

Buying brand new is fun, but after the initial thrill of opening a package, your new stuff is often the exact same as something used. You can find computers, bikes, video games, musical instruments, and just about everything else your kids want at much cheaper prices when you buy used. This same rule applies to many of your bigger family purchases, including cars. Most new cars depreciate 40% to 50% within the first three years of ownership, which means you can find great deals on fairly new cars without having to bear the majority of the depreciation costs yourself.

3. Find Fun Home Entertainment

Going out as a family for movie night or mini golf is a blast. It’s also expensive. The average U.S. household spends about $2,500 on simple entertainment every year. That’s more than $200 per month. And while finding ways to have fun as a family is important, you can also make memories without spending a lot of money. Look for resources online to find fun, affordable family entertainment. You can also use local community resources to find nearby recreational activities, including hiking trails, parks, and more. Just Google “free activities for families” in your city to see what you can find. There’s also nothing wrong with a quiet family evening at home playing games or watching a movie. 

4. Find Ways to Save on Food

If you have a family with lots of mouths to feed, there’s a good chance you’re spending even more than that. Food is one of the largest expenses for families every month, and prices are only going up, especially on staples like meats, eggs, potatoes, and dairy. In fact, in April 2020, the price of groceries grew 2.6%. That’s the largest month-over-month increase in grocery prices since the early 1970s. And many experts believe the price increases are here to stay. By planning meals, limiting trips to the store, and buying fewer packaged foods, your family can save money on food. You can also buy produce in season, buy frozen foods that keep longer, and utilize coupons to combat price increases. 

5. Plan a Budget with the Whole Family

Meet regularly with your family to talk about ways to save with your kids and plan out a budget together. When every family member understands the importance of living within a budget (and what that actually means), you can help each other stick to your goals and make corrections together. Plus, planning a budget with the entire family gives you the opportunity to save for vacations and other big purchases together, which can build excitement and make the rewards of saving money even more rewarding.

6. Talk about Utilities

You might not think of your utilities as family expenses, but your entire family has control over how much you spend each month on energy and other recurring bills. Have a discussion with your kids about smart ways to save. Make it a part of your family budgeting process and review how seemingly small behaviors like using energy efficient lights, limiting hot water use, and improving your home’s efficiency can help lower the nearly $2,000 energy costs most Americans spend per year.

A father and son play with toys together

7. Be Clever with Clothes

While sibling hand-me-downs and buying used are great ways to save, sometimes kids need new clothes. Doing simple things like buying clothes that fit now and buying quality clothing can actually save you money, even if you have to spend a little more upfront. You can also sell what your kids don’t wear to recoup the cost of buying new. And, as always, keep an eye out for sales. The markup on retail clothing is significant — sometimes as high as 62%. You can almost always find deals on clothing by shopping discount racks/stores or buying wholesale to avoid retail markup.

8. Coordinate Your Car Trips

Gasoline and car repairs are major family expenses. Before you run all around town on errands and chasing after kids, take a little time to coordinate your trips to reduce travel. Doing so can lower gas expenses and limit the wear and tear on the family car, saving money now and in the long term. If public transportation is a feasible option for your family where you live, consider taking advantage of the services available before buying another car for your growing family of drivers. Besides the purchase price, a new car requires registration, gas, insurance, upkeep, repairs, and interest payments from financing. 


Families are expensive. While you might not be able to eliminate every expense of raising kids, following these 10 tips can help you save more money together and be a more frugal family.