Money saving tips so often sound difficult and no fun. But you can save money without making yourself or your family miserable. Here are 5 money saving tips for working parents that will keep a smile on your face.
Save Money at Lunchtime
We've all heard the advice to bring lunch from home to save money. But does that mean you miss eating out with your co-workers?
Ask a few colleagues if they'd like to join you in brown bagging lunch. Chances are they'd like to save money too. You can set up a potluck in the break room or kitchen with everyone's leftovers or favorite sandwiches.
Not only do you get to know colleagues better, you can sample a variety of foods. That may lead to recipe-swapping - or a decision to bring a casserole if you ever go to Bob's house for dinner!
Save Money on Coffee
Similarly, how many of us drop $2 or more a day because we can't resist freshly brewed coffee from Starbucks or the local coffee shop? Instead, see if your company will invest in an office coffee maker and some gourmet coffee grounds.
Even if your employer won't pay for coffee at work, your colleagues may want to chip in to save money in the long term. And at the least, you could bring your first cup from home, and then set up a small coffee maker by your desk for further caffeine injections.
If you're missing the walk down the block to the coffee shop, make yourself a cup at your desk and take a walk anyway. You may find that satisfies the urge to stretch your legs and drink some Java, without busting your budget.
Save Money on Commuting
Do you cringe at the price of filling up your gas tank? Consider cutting your fuel costs and saving wear and tear on your car by changing your commute. See if you can:
- Carpool with a co-worker or someone who works nearby. You can find a rideshare through carpool sites like eRideshare.com or even Craigslist.
- Take a bus or other public transportation. You may enjoy the time alone to read or listen to music.
- Bicycle or run to work. You'll drop pounds from your waist as well as your wallet.
- Ask your manager if you can work from home one or two days a week or use a flexible work schedule to avoid rush hour. An increasing number of employers are more open to telecommuting and flexible hours.
Switch to Free Entertainment
Is your cable or satellite television bill astronomical? Consider canceling service and finding free ways to entertain the family.
You can probably find your favorite TV shows for free on the Internet, usually at the Web site of the network, such as ABC or NBC.
The public library is another great source of free fun, from books and magazines to DVDs of your kids' favorite movies and television shows. Just make sure you keep track of return times so you don't rack up late fines.
Check out the parks, public playgrounds, community centers and any free museums that may exist in your community. Be creative - your toddler may consider the atrium of a big hotel or office building a fun running space when the weather is bad.
Get Together With Friends
It's amazing how socializing can turn a humdrum evening into a party. When I was single, a group of friends and I took turns hosting dinner on the night of our favorite nighttime television drama.
Now my husband and I have a tradition of getting together every Thursday dinner and Saturday lunch with other families from our kids' daycare center. Even though none of the children are in school together any more, they love to see their friends.
You can potluck - or choose an inexpensive restaurant - so nobody is stuck with all the cooking. And with multiple parents watching the kids while chatting, it hardly seems like work.