Money Saving Hacks To Use When One Parent Is In School
When a service member or spouse decides to go back to school, there usually needs to be changes to the family’s budget. Most likely, there will be a loss of income. Even if all of the educational bills are paid for through the military and financial aid, saving money during the time they are in school is a must.
Here are some money-saving hacks to use when one parent is in school.
Coupons are one of the best ways to save money, and they are easy to find. You probably already receive them weekly in the mail. You can also find them online or in the weekly paper. Use coupons when you go grocery shopping, buy something at the mall, or when you go out to eat. Even if you save $5-10 a trip, you will be saving money.
Use The Crock Pot
When you are busy, you will be more likely to pick up fast food for dinner each night. This is unhealthy, and the costs can add up. Instead of relying on fast food, use your crockpot to make meals for your family. You can get super creative or stick to the basics. Start everything in the morning, and the food will be ready in time for dinner.
$3-4 – average cost per person when cooking at home
$6-7 – fast food
$20 – average cost per person when using a restaurant delivery service
$13 – average cost per person when using meal kit service
$13 – average cost of eating out
Cable can be quite expensive, and cutting cable can be an excellent way to free up money in your budget each month. You can replace cable with services such as Netflix or Hulu to be able to watch what you want to watch. These services are lower in price than what you typically pay for cable each month.
Your food budget is another significant way to save money. Sit down with your spouse and decide on how much you should be spending each month on food. You can use the USDA’s food plans to get an idea of what your budget should be. Once you figure that out, you need to make plans to stick to that amount when you are doing your grocery shopping each month. The best way to do so is to always shop with a list, look for deals and coupons, and stay away from buying a lot of extras.
Fun And Entertainment Budget
Another place to tighten up your budget would be on what you are spending on fun and entertainment each month. Without budgeting for this, you can end up spending more money than you think you do. Have a budget for each week on what you will spend on fun and entertainment and figure out ways to make that money last.
Take On Extra Jobs
While one of you is in school, taking on extra jobs can help bring in extra money. You could start babysitting in your home, which is a good idea when you have small children. You could sign up and make money by driving for Uber or Lyft or even pick up a part-time job. Bringing in an extra $200-500 a month can be just what you need to make it during the college years.
Pack A Lunch
Eating out adds up. Time to start making and packing a lunch. If you will have access to a microwave, make extra food for dinner and take in the leftovers. If nothing else, a sandwich, piece of fruit, and a drink can be a lot cheaper to bring to school or work than eating out every day.
Take advantage of free events in your local community. You can go to festivals, fairs, and even concerts without having to pay a dime and they can be fun for the whole family. If you have children, check and see what is going on in your local community for them too. Your college or university will also have events going on that you would want to check out during the school year.
Coffee At Home
Just like bringing a lunch saves you money, making coffee at home will save you money too. While buying a $3 cup of coffee doesn’t seem like a huge deal, if you do that every day, that will add up. When you can, make your coffee at home and bring it with you when you head off to work or your classes.
Eating Out Limits
Eating out, especially with a family, can be pretty pricey. Save eating out for special occasions, go on “kids eat free” nights, and plan to use a coupon when you go to a restaurant.
Use The Library
The library can be a fantastic, free resource for you and your family. Libraries have more than books these days and can offer free events, movie rentals, and clubs you can join.
Think About The Big Picture
The most important thing to remember when one of you is in school is the bigger picture. You might have to be on a tight budget for a while, but the years you have to do so will be worth it. Think about what going to school will mean in the long run and work hard to figure out ways to stay afloat during those years.