6 July, 2017 - 11:17 AM GMT

8 Family friendly ways to save

Regardless of the size of your household budget, you’ve probably experienced weeks when money is tight and it feels like your family has to miss out on indulgences. But with simple changes and adopting new habits that actually create closer connections with your family and friends, you can enjoy a richer lifestyle—while also saving money.

These eight ideas to live well in ways that are fun, family-friendly and frugal will inspire you into action:

  1. Tone up together: Free exercise such as walking saves you money. But many people benefit from the extra motivation, personal attention and expertise of a person trainer, and it isn’t a cost that’s out of reach. Find a friend or two, train together and split the cost—many PTs and gyms are now open to the idea.
  2. Join a community garden: Imagine fresh, healthy vegetables without the cost to set-up and maintain a garden (except a modest membership fee). Pitch in a certain amount of time, develop your green thumb, and earn your share of the harvest. The kids will love it! Check out the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network to find one.
  3. Meat-free Mondays (and Thursdays): Meat can be expensive and cutting back a few nights is a simple way to save you on your weekly shop. Meat-free doesn’t mean your tastebuds miss out, and plenty of family-friendly recipes include protein rich alternatives. Why not try Jamie Oliver’s pumpkin, chickpea and coconut curry recipe!
  4. Start a babysitting swap: When was the last time mum and dad had a night alone, out on the town? Does the cost of babysitting make the decision to stay home more attractive? Find another couple with kids that you trust (or several) and offer to regularly swap babysitting duties so everyone gets a cost-effective date night each month.
  5. Borrow, don’t buy: Spend less and share more. Before you buy new tools, toys or products, draw on your network of family, friends and neighbours to see if you can borrow or barter for what you need. Or rent items from other families online through sites like OpenShed and Rentoid. Think lawn mowers, car baby seats, gaming consoles, saws, drum kits and even clothes.
  6. Spread dinner around: Potluck dinners can be fun and potentially budget-conscious if everyone brings simple, wholesome dishes. A concept that’s taking off is batch cooking groups—usually mums getting together with other like-minded friends in a large kitchen to socialise and cook or bake up storm. Everyone shares a meal on the day, and takes home a bunch of pre-prepared food.
  7. Reinvent your wardrobe: Thrift stores offer inexpensive clothes, especially for growing kids. Another way to indulge your desire for high quality clothes without breaking the bank is clothing exchanges. Many community clothes swap events are popping up, but you easily organise your own with fashionable friends and colleagues that have items they’re willing to trade.
  8. Rediscover free entertainment: Don’t forget, leaving the house can be fun, entertaining and cheap! Many kids will still enjoy a family outing to the park or beach to kick a ball or throw a frisbee. Museums and art galleries regularly change their free displays and most have free open days or special deals on offer. Libraries are also a treasure trove with access to free books, ebooks, magazines, CDs and DVDs.

Check out more simple ways to save money on the Australian Government’s MoneySmart website.