Ways to save on family finances

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Ways to saveBy heck, raising children is expensive. Recent estimates put it at about £210,000 until they're 21. You could buy a brand-new car every year for that and it wouldn't get chocolatey fingers on the curtains or draw on the walls with your favourite lipstick.

But it seems that a large number of us will persist in making the mistake of choosing children over a nice, nippy saloon. So, if we're to emerge at the end of 21 years with our finances (if not our sanity) intact, here are some top tips from other mums to help you keep a few of those pennies to yourself.

Top family saving tips

  • Join Freecycle or Freegle, a Yahoo-based group to give away and receive unwanted items for free in your local area. You will often see outgrown toys, books and clothes offered and, of course, when your children move on to older things, you can return the favour by passing their toys or clothes on. Liz
  • It's not all austerity measures. You can do 'normal' things like go to the cinema if you look for deals. Vue and Cineworld have weekend family morning offers: Cineworld Movies for Juniors - £1 a ticket, and Vue Kids AM - £1 a ticket at weekends and school holidays. Yvonne
  • National Trust gardens are the bee's knees - kids under five are free and an adult annual pass is around £38. They are usually full of big trees to hide behind and exciting little paths. Don't underestimate big open spaces! Jenny
  • Pet superstores are great for passing an hour for free when it's raining. The big ones usually have a selection of animals and they often publish the feeding times too. My boys love it. Nicola
  • When did we start thinking that kids needed their own entertainment, all the time? My three-year-old son loves coming with me on errands, especially when I give him 'jobs' like counting out my tomatoes or handing over my cheques to the cashier at the bank. Sounds dull, but for him it seems fun! Jenny
  • We have a generic pool of equipment which we share between friends including ski gear, club sports kit, wetsuits, etc, for the children. My friend with the oldest child kits him out, then when she pools his cast-offs we give her vouchers to top up the top of the chain, as it were, for the next load of kit. Ruth
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  • Ask friends if they have toys or clothes they want to pass on or sell. It saves a fortune, especially when so many things are only used for a short time and toys can be a fad. I haven't been ashamed to do it for my three and I've been more than happy to return the favour. Kate
  • Local council or community websites often have details of future free events. It's really helped me out when I've had a rainy day with no plans and moany kids! Sharon
  • Don't bother buying clothing for each age group. My 10-month old son wore 0-3 months as long as practical, then I bypassed 3-6 completely and went straight to 6-9 months. A few things were slightly too big but nothing that was a problem. Nadia
  • Chuck in chickpeas and pulses to add protein and bulk to a curry or spaghetti bolognaise. It saves on meat costs, and for me, is a great way to get roughage into my three-year-old daughter without her noticing! Rachel
  • When babies have outgrown babygros and sleepsuits, cut the feet off them and fold up bottom to hide the raw edge. It's good over the warmer weather to keep little tootsies cool. I did with my two and friends thought it was genius! Jane
  • Join your local library - as well as free books you can borrow DVDs and talking books for a small amount, plus some libraries have toy libraries and run story sessions that don't cost a penny. Charlie
  • "I've gone in with a few mums from school and set up a school uniform and sports kit recycling pool. All uniforms are grown out of more often than they get worn out. Leavers put the uniform into the pool and new starters get a free football strip!" Paula
    Even though it seems counterintuitive, you could spend the extra fiver on a mobile plan that allows unlimited texting. No-one counts how many texts they send, least of all teens, and if they go over their limit there can be an expensive surprise. I learnt this the hard way with my two teenage sons. Natasha
  • Grow vegetables in your garden. Not only will it be fun and educational for your kids to see how food actually gets onto your table, but it obviously cuts down on your weekly shop during harvesting time. Lauren


Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:

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Last updated: over 3 years ago