Raising children is an expensive business, so money saving tips for parents are always warmly received. In fact, 2019 research found the average cost of raising a child until the age of 18 was a staggering £151,000.
To help out parents, we’ve compiled a list of 50 money saving tips to help you save some pennies without making any major sacrifices.
- Tips For Parents To Money Shopping
- Save on School Supplies
- Tips For Parents to Save Money on Groceries
- Free Activities at Home
- Free Outings (When You Can Go Out Again!)
- Frugal Living Tips for Parents
- Tips for Parents to Save Money by Switching
- Child Friendly Savings Accounts – Tips For Parents
Shopping is one of the biggest expenses for families, so these tips for parents to save money on shopping can make a real difference.
1. Set a Budget and Stick to it
It’s a very simple tip, but setting a budget will help stop any mindless spending. It will take a bit of time and effort to create your first budget, but once it’s up and running you’ll find it much easier to keep track of your finances.
Another tip is to create a shopping list before you head to the shops. Then, be as disciplined as you can and only buy what is on your list.
2. Use Advantage Cards to your Advantage
Signing up to lots of store loyalty cards might seem time consuming, but they’re great for saving money.
If you buy your toiletries at Boots, you should definitely be using their advantage card.
Not only will you be sent personalised vouchers and offers each month, but you will also earn points for every pound you spend. You can use these points as cash, either to get a bit of money off your next bill or you can save up and treat yourself to something nice.
3. Tips for parents – Plan Ahead
Being organised is a simple but effective money saving tip for parents.
Rather than buying everything last minute when things are full price, try and buy out of season. For example, buy up your Christmas cards, wrapping paper and decorations at the beginning of January when they’re heavily discounted.
4. Enter Giveaways
Don’t turn your nose up at giveaways! They’re a great way to get free stuff.
You might not think you’ll win, but your chances of success are usually a lot better than you think – people rarely bother to enter competitions because they think they won’t win. This opens the doors for you to swoop in and claim all the big prizes.
If you’re not sure where to start check out this article on how to make money from competitions.
Entering online competitions usually requires your email address, which means there’s a chance you’ll start receiving lots of spam. You can avoid this problem by setting up a separate email account, and have anything competition related sent there.
5. Make the Most of Coupons
Honey automatically searches for coupons and applies them to your shopping. It runs in the background, so you don’t even have to think about it. It’ll let you know if it’s found any vouchers and update your basket based on the new discount.
Examples of online stores and companies that Honey can find discounts for include Amazon, PlayStation Store, Etsy, Abercrombie & Fitch, and many more.
If you don’t fancy installing Honey, you can check for discounts yourself on VoucherCodes.
6. Buy Second Hand
Buying second hand is a great way to save money as a parent. Children need so many toys, books, clothes and more– but they don’t all need to be new.
7. Buy Reusable Alternatives
This is a great way to save some money while saving the environment at the same time!
Reusable alternatives to everyday products – like nappies and wipes – will start off a bit more expensive than their disposable alternatives. But, you’ll make this money back very quickly when you don’t have to keep buying more every week.
8. Join the Boots Parent Club
The Boots Parenting Club is exclusive to Boots Advantage Card holders.
It has certain advantages including:
- 8 points per £1 on baby products.
- Free gifts at key stages of your baby’s development.
- Personalised special offers.
- Expert parenting advice.
- Parenting Club offers via the Boots app.
9. Use Cash Back Apps
Use a cashback shopping website – or app if you’re in the shops – that pays you to buy your shopping through them.
Not only will you get money back when you shop through them, but there are also referral bonuses.
Both sites currently offer a £25 bonus for each referral.
10. Sell Anything You No Longer Need
Children grow quickly and their needs change over time. Often, they’ll no longer be able to get use out of toys, clothes and equipment, way before they have no use left in them.
Instead of throwing these things away, why not sell them? This way, you’ll help save the environment and make some extra money for yourself.
School supplies soon add up. Here are some money saving tips for parents to cut down the cost of school.
11. Swap Uniforms
Children grow far too quickly and some need multiple uniforms in one school year.
Rather than buying brand new uniforms every time, why not pass clothes down from your oldest to your younger children or swap with cousins or close friends.
If you’re struggling to find people to swap with, you could mention it to some of the other parents at the school. Many will also feel the burden of regularly buying new uniforms and be happy to start swapping with you.
12. Club Together with Other Parents
This is similar to the last tip, but you don’t have to limit it to just uniform.
Why not buy notebooks, pens and pencil cases in bulk and then split the cost between a group of parents?
This can also work with things like textbooks, where you may only need them for a short amount of time. Ifyou buy it in a group, you don’t have to spend £20 on something your child might only look at for one week!
13. Use Libraries
Reading is a great way to occupy children and also helps their learning. But, books can get expensive if you keep buying new ones.
Instead, sign up to your local library and you can borrow as many books as you like (usually four at a time per card holder!) for free.
You can find your nearest library here.
14. Rent Equipment
Children go through lots of phases and often want to try lots of different activities. This is great, but the cost can soon add up.
If you’re not sure your child is going to stick with their latest interest, why not start by renting the equipment rather than buying it out right.
A lot of musical instrument shops – like this one – run schemes that allow you to rent instruments for just 3 months at a time.
15. Claim Tax Back on Instruments
Your child might be the next Beethoven, but that won’t stop you wincing at the cost of their instruments.
The Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS) enables pupils of local authority and academy schools to purchase musical instruments through their school without having to pay VAT.
16. Make Use of BBC Home Schooling Tools
The BBC is offering lots of educational programmes and content for all ages (up to GCSE). During weekdays, you can access daily lessons and more on CBBC, BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button.
17. Use Free Learning Resources
There’s plenty of free learning resources available to help children with their school work or other interests.
If languages are their thing, try Duolingo. It’s completely free and offers step-by-step, simple lessons in languages ranging from Spanish to Japanese and even High Valyrian for any parents that are Game of Thrones fans!
The weekly food shop soon mounts up. These tips for parents to save money on food could take a chunk out of your food bill.
18. Use Olio
Download the Olio app. It puts you in touch with neighbours and cafes that have surplus food. You can list your unwanted items as well as request offer people’s. And – it’s completely free.
As a bonus, you’re helping the environment by reducing food waste. The app helps us all share food that would otherwise go to landfill.
19. Take Advantage of Loyalty Cards
Nearly all supermarkets now offer some kind of loyalty card scheme. These can save you lots of money on your food shop.
Tesco now offers special clubcard prices on selected items, meaning you’re spending money unnecessarily if you don’t have one.
If you shop at Sainsburys, you can now even turn your Nectar card points into Avios points, to get you money off your next holiday! (Whenever we’re allowed to travel again that is.)
20. Go to the Shops just Before Closing Time
This may sound like a strange idea, but shops start discounting items that need to be sold that day as closing time approaches.
If you get to the shops an hour or so before closing, you’ll probably see a lot more yellow stickers on items than normal. It’s not uncommon to pick up groceries for 10p!
This only works if you’re not too fussy about what you want to buy. Spare freezer space is also a bonus, as you can freeze any products that are about to go out of date until you want to use them.
21. Claim Healthy Start Vouchers
With NHS-backed Healthy Start, you get free vouchers every week to spend on milk, fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried, and tinned pulses, and infant formula milk, as well as free vitamins.
You qualify for Healthy Start if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old and you’re eligible for certain benefits. Find out more here.
22. Buy in Bulk
To do this, you’ll need some extra cupboard and freezer space and a bit of extra cash to start with. But, if you can afford to buy in bulk it will save you money in the long run.
If you’re really looking to capitalise on bulk buying, head to Costco, where there’s hundreds of options to buy in large quantities.
23. Head to Aldi or Lidl
Which? Magazine has crowned Aldi and Lidl the cheapest supermarkets of the year. This means, just by choosing Aldi over Tesco, you could save around £10 on your weekly food shop.
The average shop at Lidl costs £42.67, while Aldi was slightly more expensive at £43.01.
We’re all at home a lot more than normal currently and keeping children entertained is becoming more and more of a struggle. But, there are some great ways to have fun at home without spending any money at all!
24. Get Creative
Arts and crafts are always fun, particularly for younger children.
Cbeebies has a whole section of its website dedicated to colouring and making things based off all your kids’ favourite shows. Children will love these and have something fun to keep too.
25. Tour Disney Theme Parks
For more relaxed entertainment, you can take a tour of the Disney theme parks. You could even decorate your living room or get the kids to dress up in their favourite Disney outfit to really bring the magic to your house.
If that goes down well, you can take it one step further and watch clips of the rollercoaster rides. Just search on YouTube to find the ride you want.
26. Free Disco and Dancing
Fancy a dance and some light-hearted fun? Sophie Ellis-Bextor runs a Kitchen Disco on Friday evenings at 6:30. If you can’t make it, you can watch all the videos and join in on her YouTube channel whenever you like.
Family days out are great fun but they can get expensive very quickly. Here are some ways you can enjoy your days out without breaking the bank.
27. Blue Peter Badge
Blue Peter badges are only awarded to children aged six to 15 years old. There are six altogether – blue, silver, green, orange, gold and the team player’s purple badge.
Blue Peter badge holders can get into literally hundreds of places for free including: Chessington World of Adventures, Hampton Court Palace, The London Dungeons, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, ZSL London Zoo, Colchester Zoo, Brands Hatch Motor Racing Circuit, Home of Charles Darwin, Scotland’s Lighthouse Museum, Cromer Museum and Dan-Yr-Ogof Showcaves to name just a few.
There are almost 200 places throughout the UK you can visit, so if you have a Blue Peter badge don’t forget to pack it if you are going away this summer!
28. Make Use of Tesco Vouchers
We’ve already mentioned some of the benefits of having a Tesco Clubcard, but they’re not just limited to money off your shopping.
Every time you spend money in store or online you earn points towards vouchers. While you can use these to get money off your next food shop, you can also save them up and use on a range of days out, in restaurants or even on holidays.
Find out what you can spend your Tesco vouchers on here.
29. Free Public Transport Travel
When you’re out and about, consider using public transport rather than driving. Children often travel for free or at a large discount.
For example, in London children under 11 travel for free when accompanied by a paying adult, while you’re entitled to discounts up to the age of 18 if you register for an Oyster Card.
30. Make the Most of Museums
We’re very lucky in this country that a lot of museums are completely free for everyone. There’s often a box for donations if you want to contribute to the cost of your visit.
Lots of museums also run exhibitions targeted at children and have free activity kits to make the experience more fun for younger visitors.
Have a look at the museums in your local area to see what they offer.
31. Visit Your Local National Trust Property
Children under 5 can visit National Trust properties and grounds for free.
For older children, you can buy a membership card for just £10, which grants them unlimited to access to all properties across the country for a whole year.
Living frugally doesn’t mean taking the fun out of life. Save the pennies in the right places to leave more money for the things you enjoy.
32. Save on Household Costs
Make a list of all your regular household expenses.
Once you’ve got your list you can see if there’s any areas you can look to cut back on or save money on.
If you’re stuck for ideas, you can find some simple ways to save money on household essentials here.
33. Take Advantage of Freebies
Companies are always trying to promote their products.
So far we’ve found you can get free samples of shampoo, breakfast bars, washing powder, razors, cameras, books, pens, perfumes, CDs, cinema tickets, T-shirts, chocolates, sweets, tea, coffee, SIM cards, toys, posters and magazines – and there will be much more out there as well!
There are lots of websites gathering all of these freebies in one place so you can find what you want. It’s not just samples either, they also group together free trials or coupons and vouchers that you can print off and use to get your discount.
We are fans of Latestfreestuff as they have a lot of good quality freebies.
We recommend setting up a separate email address for these sites, to avoid having your inbox taken over by spam.
34. Make Your Own Cards and Gifts
Buying cards and gifts for all your friends and family can soon add up. But, many will love something hand made by your children.
Get creative and design your own cards and gifts with your children instead. The initial cost of materials may add up a bit, but will end up a lot cheaper than buying presents for everyone.
As a bonus – this is also a fun activity to keep children occupied, particularly while we’re all at home most of the time!
35. Join Your Local NCT
The NCT – the National Childbirth Trust – is essentially a support group and network for new parents.
Joining NCT or other pre-natal groups is an investment. While there’s an initial cost, you’ll more than make the money back in emergency babysitters, cheap coffee, play dates and trips to the park.
You can find your local branch here.
36. Make Extra Money In Your Spare Time
Parents aren’t a demographic that are known for having loads of spare time, but you can make some extra cash online very easily.
If you’re stuck for ideas about how to make more money, check out our top 30 ideas here.
37. Make Sure You Know What You’re Entitled To
Here are some benefits parents can be entitled to receive.
Child Benefit – a set amount per child (£20.05 for the first child, and £13.95 for every child thereafter), up to the age of 16 (or 20 in certain cases, for example if they’re on an approved education course). Child Benefit is not means-tested, meaning everyone receives it, and isn’t taxed.
Universal Credit – the simplified benefits system that came in a couple of years ago, Universal Credit includes extra payments if you have children and is available for those who aren’t working or are on a low income.
Child Tax Credit – certain parents may still be entitled to this, although for many it will now be incorporated into Universal Credit (more on the details of Child Tax Credit and who might be eligible for it can be found below)
You can find out more about what benefits you’re entitled to here.
38. Get Help With Childcare Costs
Childcare Vouchers can be used to pay for all different forms of childcare. Loads of employers offer a voucher scheme as part of the employment package to help ease the payment of childcare costs.
Vouchers can be offered to you as a bonus on top of your salary. Alternatively, more widespread is the “Salary Sacrifice”. That means you take an agreed (and contracted) cut in pay and get the rest directly in childcare vouchers. From 6 April 2005, the first £50 a week or £217 a month in childcare vouchers is exempt from tax and NI contributions. So you only pay tax on your reduced salary, saving you money!
A two parent family could save between £1,600 and £2,000, depending on the tax bracket. Both parents are eligible to claim for help with childcare costs.
Talk to your work and see what they have to offer. If they don’t do a voucher scheme, maybe you could introduce it to them?
39. Have Time Away From Screens
Screen time is often a good way of keeping the kids occupied, so you can get on with some work or whatever it is you need to be doing. But, it does come with a cost. Endlessly charging laptops, tablets and smart phones will increase your electricity bill – perhaps even by a surprising sum!
Taking time out each day away from screens will help reduce this cost. Whether you choose to go for a walk, play a game or read a book – it’s also a good opportunity for some quality family time.
Switching providers may seem like too much hassle – it can be a time consuming process! But, it’s almost certainly guaranteed to save you money.
40. Switch Energy Providers
Not only could you save around £460 a year by switching tariffs, but you could also take advantage of welcome bonuses. Much like banks paying you to switch accounts, energy suppliers are in a constant struggle to get as many customers as possible.
You could find that signing up to a new supplier comes with an incentive bonus of £25, £50, or even £100 on special offers. The cash is credited to your account when it’s all set up and ready to go.
Once you’re a customer, you could also make extra cash by referring your friends to the scheme for extra credit, too!
41. Shop Around for Internet Deals
We all need internet – whether it’s for home schooling, work, online shopping or watching TV. But, that doesn’t mean you have to pay the earth for it.
Often you’ll get a better deal just by switching providers or phoning up your current provider saying you want to leave.
Click here to find out if you can get a better deal by switching.
42. Look for Family Plans for Phone Bills
Many providers now let you share your data between family members. So, if your teenage kids watch loads of YouTube on their phone but you hardly check your emails, think about getting a family phone contract.
Broadband and landline providers like Sky also offer mobile SIMs at a reduced price for their customers. It’s worth checking them for bundled offers to see if you could save more cash as a family!
43. Switch Mortgage Providers
Like changing energy providers, shopping around to find the right deal is the key to saving money.
Although with mortgages it can get a bit more complicated. You need to consider:
- Whether you’ll be charged a penalty for switching mortgages
- Mortgage fees
- Interest rates
- Whether you want a fixed, discounted or tracker-rate deal
- If an offset mortgage is suitable
The best way to establish if switching providers is right for you is to speak to an independent mortgage broker, like London & Country.
44. Use Free Trials
Streaming services have tightened up their free trials lately. But, there are still some good offers around.
One brand that does offer an easy to access free trial is Amazon Prime, which allows 30 days free to access its streaming service, Amazon Prime Video. You’ll be converted to regular membership and charged after the first month if you don’t cancel, so make sure you note when you signed up.
One sneaky trick to learn with many of these services is to go through the cancellation process once you’ve signed up. After your first month with the service, try to cancel your membership.
You’ll be presented with options like:
- An account suspension (where you pay nothing for a set period of time but can’t access the service)
- A free month
- Discounted payments for the next month, three months, or sometimes even six months
If none of these options come up when you follow the first ‘Cancel Membership’ step, you’re probably not going to get a discount at this point! But, it’s always worth a try!
45. Share accounts
Most streaming services offer discounts for multiple users which will save you quite a bit – depending on how many platforms you use.
Sharing subscriptions across the entire house instead of everyone having their own also makes financial sense. These services all have options for people to watch different things at the same time on separate screens, or listen to different music simultaneously. Companies have realised the power of sharing subscriptions – rather than try to combat it, they willingly offer it!
46. Save Money on Car Insurance
Streamline the different levels of insurance you have for members of your household, to see if you can save money on your insurance.
Has your oldest gone to university and is unlikely to be driving much? They probably don’t need to stay insured.
You could consider multi-car policies, too. See if you can get a deal that incorporates the vehicles of your family members into one policy. This will almost certainly knock some money off your car insurance.
If you have a bit of spare cash and would like to help set your children up for the future, you could consider opening a child friendly savings account for them.
Here are some of the most popular options.
47. Junior ISAs
Junior Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are long-term, tax-free savings accounts for children, where you can save up to £9,000 a year.
Parents or guardians with parental responsibility can open a Junior ISA and manage the account, but the money belongs to the child. The child can take control of the account when they’re 16, but cannot withdraw the money until they’re 18.
48. Child Trust Funds
A Child Trust Fund (CTF) is a long-term tax-free savings account for children.
You can’t apply for a Child Trust Fund now because the scheme has ended. But, if you already have one you can still save up to £9,000 a year in it.
There’s no tax to pay on the CTF income or any profit it makes. It will not affect any benefits or tax credits you receive.
49. Prepaid Cards for Under-18s
You can start teaching your children about money by using prepaid cards. These offer a safe way for children to begin managing their own money, without risking them spending all your money!
Gohenry is a popular choice and even offers personalised cards, which children will love.
50. Make Use of Help to Save
Help to Save is a type of Government-backed savings account. It allows certain people entitled to Working Tax Credit or receiving Universal Credit to get a bonus of 50p for every £1 they save over 4 years.
You can save between £1 and £50 each calendar month and you do not have to pay money in every month.
You can find out more here.
Invest Your Savings
These money saving tips for parents will help you cut a lot of expenditure from your annual household bills. You might need this to avoid debt – but it’s likely you’ll find yourself with plenty of spare capital if you follow all of these tips! If that’s the case, it’s time to consider investing your spare cash. You can do this for yourself or for your children!