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21 Ways to be a Money-Savvy Mom

MONEY: We all know that having kids can be expensive, but there are some sure-fire ways to save money.

We’ve pulled together a list of 21 money-savvy mom tips that are bound to save you a few euros!

Where are there savings to be made?

  1. Make the most of local playgrounds, parks and family-friendly attractions that are free to visit. Ireland has a wealth of family hotspots – you just have to know the ones in your area. Liven things up by taking them to visit the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum or the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History. If outside of Dublin, there are plenty of great options around the country. The Office of Public Works (OPW) offers free admission to certain sites on the first Wednesday of each month. For information, visit heritageireland.ie.
  2. Get an annual membership pass for just one attraction you know is situated near you and that you will frequent throughout the year; whether it’s Dublin Zoo, Tayto Park or elsewhere – the cost per visit narrows the more you go, and the novelty counterbalances all the trips to the free attractions you go to every other weekend.
  3. Keep all loyalty cards in the same place, ready for whenever you find yourself in those places – whether it’s for a haircut, a visit to the local play centre or a ride on the train at the shopping centre.
  4. Pick up Bernadine Lawrence’s How to Feed Your Family for £5 a Day (HarperCollins) and cook from it – the recipes are super easy, the ingredients are simple and the dishes are delish.
  5. Keep 3D glasses in a handy place so you never find yourself at the cinema without them (this is eco-friendly too).
  6. Get to know your local library. Kids love visiting it, taking out something they picked themselves, and it’s free.
  7. Sell your old baby equipment – whether on DoneDeal or via your local notice board, there are always people looking for baby gear. Use the proceeds towards whatever it is you need to get them now.
  8. Sign them up for local activities – whether it’s tennis classes run by your local council or the local GAA, you’ll find a host of options if you look for them.
  9. Breastfeed (if you can) – formula costs money. Take this freebie while it’s available.
  10. Work out a budget, and stick to it. I know, it’s a cliché, but years ago, my husband downloaded a budget calculator and each month he fills it in religiously. Throughout the month, it’s checked (if a direct debit was a few euro more this month, that cell is amended) and we can see as the month progresses just how we’re doing. We sometimes still come up short (just imagine how bad we’d be if we didn’t follow it!), but it’s an essential tool for us.
  11. Sick of an old storybook, DVD or toy? Why not ask another mom if she wishes to swap with you? You both get something new and no money is spent.
  12. Get another parent to buddy up with you, sitting with your kids while you go out and vice versa (one note though: in order for this to work, you both have to have a clear plan – ie the first and third Saturday each month is your night/hers, and set the date in your diaries).
  13. Book a self-catering stay with two or more families. Not only is the cost per family reduced, but you have other adults to catch up with in the evenings when the kids go to bed. And you finally catch up with those friends you never have time to see anymore. Result!
  14. Next time you find yourself in Smyths, seek out the two for €20 options – buy the ideal gift for the child whose birthday party you’re shopping for and hold the extra item for the next birthday party your child is invited to (let’s face it, the invitation will probably be sent home with him next week).
  15. Plan, plan, plan. This goes for your weekly meals and also any shopping trips (after all, a trip back to the shops only wastes petrol).
  16. Stockpile dinners. If you’re making something as complex as a shepherd’s pie, make one-and-a-half recipes (it should be enough to feed the entire family for two nights). Making Bolognese? Fill small tubs with whatever’s left and keep these in the freezer – all you’ll need to do is reheat and add freshly boiled pasta and voilà: a simple hearty meal is ready for them. Don’t be tempted to eat up what’s left in the pan (even if it’s one portion instead of two, if it’s in the freezer, two frozen portions will eventually add up to dinner for two) – this will also help keep your portions at a healthy size.
  17. Pack a picnic. Kids love picnicking. Get them to choose what to pack and try and include something fun or unusual – a nice treat. Fresh strawberries, grapes, oranges or other favoured fruits will be all the more welcome when served on a blanket under the shade of an inviting tree. If it’s hot and sunny out (a rarity, I know), try making homemade lemonade: boil water and dissolve sugar into it and allow to cool. Add freshly squeezed lemons and ice.
  18. If you’re just too tired by the time you get home to make lunch for the next work day, try this: go to the local shop near your work on a Monday lunch hour, set a budget for your week’s worth of lunches, buy a variety of ingredients within that budget (my personal favourite – I buy standard greens, tomatoes, and cucumber, then I buy one avocado, feta, one tin of mackerel, walnuts, beetroot and dressing – I vary the “extras” each day so that every salad is somewhat different and I don’t get bored; my weekly lunch shop comes to approx €6-8), and plan out how you will use those up throughout the week (and do use everything up). You’ll thank yourself when it’s raining on Wednesday at 1pm and you know you have fresh ingredients in the kitchen waiting for you.
  19. Throw a low-cost birthday party by creating an inexpensive yet fun activity for the children to participate in. Keep it simple – just have one focussed activity that will keep them entertained for 30-45 minutes. The rest of the time will be spent playing, eating and singing “Happy Birthday”. Try getting the kids to make their own pizzas – you pre-prepare the dough and the sauce and leave out a selection of toppings for them to place on their own pizza.
  20. When shopping for kids’ clothes, stores like Dunnes, Penneys and H&M offer great quality, trendy pieces. Especially when it comes to jeans and wardrobe basics. Then you can pick up the odd special item in places like Next, Zara or other higher end stores.
  21. And when kids are given money for their birthdays? Don’t spend it on toys (they have enough of those) – either put it towards new lessons or hold it for the next time you actually need to get them something. Really, if someone gives you money, they genuinely want you to put it towards something you really need; otherwise they would have bought the child a toy in the first place!
Are you a money-savvy mom? Please share your top tips by commenting below.

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