Over the years, we have searched high and low for the best ways to save on everyday expenses. We want to help fellow Canadians spend less, save more, and enjoy healthy personal finances. Here are our top ten ways to save on everything for the family, from clothing to toys to groceries.
HOW TO SAVE ON GROCERIES
Every parent knows the awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping reality of how much a growing child can eat. Some kids seem to be on a constant growth spurt, and the overall cost of groceries is on a steady and continuous rise. In 2020 it was averaged that Canadian families of 4 spent $1055/month just on groceries, an increase of 4% from 2019. If we expect to see another rise of 4%, Canada’s families are looking at an average of almost $1100/month in 2021. Here are a few great ways to feed your family healthy food for less.
Plan Ahead | Planning (meal plans, grocery lists, coupons, etc.) isn’t an easy task, especially when you have a busy family life. It’s one hundred percent worthwhile, however. Not only will it help you save on groceries, but it will also increase the quality of food your family eats and cut back on the stress from the ever-dreaded, last-minute question of, “What’s for dinner?”.
- Meal plan. An oldie but a goody, the meal plan remains a pillar of wise spending for a reason. Surf the net or visit your local library if you prefer physical cookbooks, choosing healthy meals for the week. If it feels too daunting, start by planning just three meals for the week, working your way up to five meals, if not seven. Include breakfast, lunch and snacks when you are ready. Use the list of required ingredients as the base for your grocery list. Planning ahead means no last-minute trips to the store or take-out and helps make better use of the food in your fridge for less waste.
- Grocery flyers tend to go straight into the recycling bin…or dwindle around the front door for weeks. For one month, try looking at the weekly grocery flyers. Flag the pages that contain your staples. Then, look at what’s on sale when it comes to meat, produce and dairy. You can do this before your meal planning for extra savings!
- Price match. Compare flyers and remember that some grocery stores, like Maxi, will price match. This means that they will honour a lower advertised price from another grocery store, selling you the same product at that price. Just bring your physical flyers or a mobile version with you. When you begin, you may feel awkward or like it takes too long. Stick with it; you will get better at organizing your cart accordingly and navigating the flyers. You will be happy you did when you see your grocery cost drop significantly. (Not to mention you won’t need to run around to different stores, wasting time, energy, and gas.)
HOW TO SAVE ON CLOTHES
Growing children mean clothes…and a climate with four full seasons means lots of clothes – just ask any parent of a child in daycare or the early years of elementary school! While parents might try to rely on hand-me-downs, sometimes siblings skip a size or fit a specific size but at a different season than when their older sibling did. (For example, little brother fits big brother’s snowsuit perfectly…but it’s June. By the time it snows, he will have grown.) It’s not always as simple as it seems, but here are a few solutions that can help you clothe the family for less.
Shop Second Hand | Gently used clothing is a lifesaver. Imagine if someone got to wear the unused items in your closet. There is nothing wrong with them; usually, it’s just a matter of our taste changing, the colour not suiting our style or the wrong size. Use these tips to get the most out of buying second-hand.
- Local thrift shops. While there is nothing wrong with large chains of used goods stores, most often, their prices are far from ideal. Look for local community thrift shops that serve their community first, putting profit second. For example, a name-brand label might make a t-shirt $16 at a chain thrift store, while your local used goods shop will sell it for $4. When shopping for a growing family, your dollar will go further at a community shop. Try dropping in once a week if you can, on the day they receive new stuff, to make the most of it.
- Online community. Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji are excellent sources for gently used items. You can often benefit from bulk sales, snatching up an entire wardrobe for your child at a great price. You can also post your own unused items to the forum and help cover the cost.
- Clothing exchange. While clothing exchanges are the best in person, the video conference version can be just as fun! All you need are a few friends, a little time to organize the items you no longer need, and your favourite platform for video chat. Create a theme for the event, or combine it with a coffee chat, touching base with friends while swapping unused items and clothing. The best part is it won’t cost you a dime.
HOW TO SAVE ON ENTERTAINMENT
Keeping kids busy, especially on weekends and when school is out, has not only become more costly but is also increasingly tricky amid the pandemic. Here are a few pandemic-friendly family activities that won’t break the bank.
Think About It | Take a little time to consider what your family loves doing. Do your kids love indoor play structures? Hands-on activities like cooking or arts and crafts? Watching movies? Exploring and adventures? While cinemas are limited and most indoor activities remain closed, there is still plenty to do. Consider why your children love those activities and then find ways to stimulate those passions in other ways. There are so many less expensive alternatives to keeping your kids busy.
- Get physical. Do your kids love to move, climb and bounce around? While indoor activity centers are closed, many cities have stepped up their community support creating winter wonderlands for all to enjoy. From nature obstacle courses, special winter activities, and more, there are many great opportunities for families to get active together – for free! Go for a walk on a new forest path and play a nature scavenger hunt. Dig out your ice skates, sleds or rent some cross-country skis. When the temperature doesn’t cooperate, play a game of The Floor is Lava, make a laser maze down a hallway with tape or put on a kid-friendly Just Dance compilation and watch them tire themselves out in no time.
- Get Creative. If your kids love to get their hands dirty, there are great at-home options that will keep them busy and provide ample bonding time for the family. Organize a cooking class with your kids and their friends via video conference. Each week let a different family pick the recipe and then simultaneously whip up a healthy, affordable meal with your kids. If they love sculpting or painting, visit your local dollar store and grab some canvas, paints, glitter, etc. Try drawing colours and creating a multi-media craft or painting, using just that colour. Incorporate nature, like evergreen leaves, rocks, pinecones, etc., to make a little scene. Five minutes on google, 10$ of supplies and a little creativity will create the perfect family activity.
- Movie Lovers. Share your favourite movies, taking turns choosing the film for family movie night. Break out some dark sheets and string lights, designate a concession stand, and create an at-home movie theatre. You can also have your kids watch a movie with friends virtually, leaving you and your significant other a little alone time so long as the snacks don’t run out. You never know, your kids might prefer at-home movies to the cinema by the time you’re done.
Raising a family is no small feat, especially with a cost of living that just won’t quit. Mix in a pandemic, and things can feel less than fantastic really quick. Try the above suggestions to lessen the financial burden and increase quality family time. If you have experienced an unexpected cost and need a little help getting through it, 24Cash is here to help. Our small, online loans are quick and easy! We are a Canadian company dedicated to supporting hard-working families to get through tough times.