The 20 best money-saving tips for stay-at-home moms and dads

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It’s tax season, which gets us thinking about money and our personal finances — and when you’re a parent, there can be so many costs associated with having and raising children.

But, of course, the benefits of parenthood outweigh everything else.

Still, there can often be real challenges, real struggles, and real bills, especially for parents who have chosen to stay home with the kids.

With all the reality you face every day as a stay-at-home parent, why not welcome some advice into your life?

Here are some money-saving tips we thought you might find useful:


1. Compare everything to get the best deals – Home insurance, car insurance, prescription drug prices, groceries, customer rewards programs and credit card rewards. Price comparisons often save money.

2. Use reward points before they expire. Diligence pays off when claiming rewards, but tracking points can be overwhelming.

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AwardWallet is a website that offers a free online service and tracks points from more than 700 loyalty programs. It will even tell you which credit cards offer the best rewards.

3. Save on prescription drugs B. by exchanging name brands for generic brands.

When buying over-the-counter medicines, opt for private label if there is a noticeable price difference. Ask your pharmacist how generic brands perform before making a final decision.

4. Keep an eye on your family’s dental health. Schedule routine dental exams and cleanings to keep teeth healthy and avoid more expensive dental procedures later. Regular checks are significantly cheaper than fillings and root canals.

5. Save energy. Install a programmable thermostat to control home heating and low-flow shower and faucet aerators to use less water and less energy to heat water. Program your thermostat to lower the temperature when you are away and overnight while your family sleeps.

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6. Use discount and budget payment programs offer from your utility company. Utility companies often offer budget payment programs where they average electricity and gas usage over a year and only bill for average usage each month. Look for response programs that offer discounts for registering smart Wi-Fi thermostats and air conditioners with utilities, with many companies offering discounts for installing specific products.

7. Stop wasting money on disposable products. Replace plastic wrap with reusable storage containers and paper towels with cotton kitchen towels. Don’t buy bottled water. Instead, carry reusable water containers and fill them up for free when you can.

8. Try common household cleaners. Vinegar, lemon, and baking soda are dirt cheap compared to other cleaning products, and will clean and disinfect windows, floors, countertops, sinks, and showers just as well as name brand cleaners.

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9. Open a separate savings account Fund birthday and holiday expenses and set a limit. Shop ahead and take advantage of special offers and sales throughout the year. Last minute shopping puts you in a time crunch, and once you hit the wall, you’re more likely to overspend.

10. Keep birthday parties simple. Children enjoy the company of other children no matter how they spend the day. Plan your kid’s party at a local park with some lawn games (or something seasonal!) and don’t think about it.

11. Organize or participate in swaps within your community and trade well-used children’s clothing, strollers, toys, craft supplies, and school supplies for other items for credit instead of trading money.

12. The library is your friend when it comes to home entertainment, DIY tools and some more unusual items.

Rent everything digitally, from bedtime stories to comics, to stream on your favorite devices. For those 18 and older, your library may operate a Tool Lending Library (TLL) where you can borrow push mowers, bulb planters, shovels, and other tools. Libraries also lend a variety of unexpected items (depending on your location), including sleighs, prom dresses, sewing machines, cake tins, fishing poles, and board games, to name a few.

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Make sure you check and see what’s available locally, as these things can be regional and vary wildly by location.

13. Independent tool libraries outside of the public library system are popping up across the country. For a small membership fee (between $10 and $100), you can rent a variety of tools, including rotary hoes, saber saws, drain cleaners, grinders, ladders, weed eaters, and hedge trimmers.

14. Set a budget for grocery shopping and stick to it. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer ready meals, shop for seasonal produce and visit the local farmer’s market to find the freshest produce so it lasts longer.

You will spend less and eat healthier.

15. Reduce food waste and overspending by optimizing your weekly purchases when you find perishable items expire before you can use them up.

Prepare a healthy batch of fruit slushies or smoothies to use up fruit that’s about to become overripe.

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16. Learn some techniques to extend the shelf life of perishable goods. Preserve food by freezing it, refrigerating it properly, canning it, and making your own broth from leftover veggies and meat.

17. Create or join a group when going to theme parksTheaters and museums to take advantage of group discounts, special programs and culinary perks.

18. Save on expensive groceries by taking a picnic lunch and refillable water bottles with you when visiting theme parks, zoos and museums. Amusement parks and zoos usually have picnic areas for families, and most museums allow families who bring their own food to use their cafeterias.

19. Travel by train. Children under the age of 12 usually get a discount on the fare, while children under the age of 2 travel free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Amtrak offers a rewards program where you earn points for travel, travel upgrades, and hotel stays.

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20. Eat out on non-kid days, visit restaurants that offer kids’ menus (some are only $1.99 per meal) and redeem those rewards points by treating the kids to a special culinary treat. And don’t forget to sign the kids (and yourself) up for birthday rewards, which usually feature free gifts, free treats, free drinks, and discount coupons.


Follow all (or just a few) of the savings tips above that other stay-at-home parents have found helpful when budgeting for their finances.

These strategies may even inspire some of your own ideas for saving money while enjoying time at home with your kids.

This story was first published in 2020. Since then it has been updated.

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