When you’ve got a growing family, it might feel like you are constantly spending money. Whether you are buying food, gear, or other necessities, the cost of raising a family seems always to increase. Fortunately, people have learned how to save money without much work at all. 

You might think that as your family gets older that your expenses decrease, but you blink, and your sweet baby is a teenager. Then, you have to pay for driver’s training, a car, insurance, and eventually college. These ongoing expenses are why so many parents look for money-saving hacks that don’t take much time. 

These nine hacks can help you save big as your family moves from infants to toddlers to school-age children to teens. You might even save enough to take your family on a dream vacation or a few small quick trips

Enjoy Freebies

There are several great places to look for freebies. Many restaurants and stores offer freebies on birthdays. Some stores provide freebies for children who are going back to school, and many companies give freebies to new mothers. 

Along with getting free products and food from local companies, most communities have libraries and parks that offer free activities throughout the year. For example, your local parks might hold special events for Halloween with free treats for participants. You can also find plenty of free events on Facebook

Another popular way to entertain your child for free is to partake in the learning sessions at Home Depot and the other big-box hardware stores. They usually offer free classes for kids on the weekends. These can be rather busy because children learn how to make something, then they make it to take home. You might have to sign up online to get a spot. 

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Get Into a Qualified Tuition Plan

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Noah in his dorm room at Oregon State University

The best time to begin saving for college is now, and you can do that with a qualified tuition plan or a 529 plan. Talk to your employer or your financial advisor to start saving money at each paycheck. The sooner you start, the more you will save. 

State governments run the tuition savings plans. When teens get to college age, parents can spend the savings on predetermined schools. Along with using the money for tuition and room and board, you can often spend the money you’ve saved on college expenses like computers and textbooks. 

While you are busy saving for college, don’t forget to check out scholarship opportunities. As soon as your child reaches high school, you should start investigating ways to save money on college. Local businesses often offer scholarships for children at nearby schools. Your employer might have scholarship programs, too. 

Load An Extension on Your Computer

One of the quickest ways to save money is to load a pair of extensions on your computer. Rakuten and Honey are two of the best money-saving extensions that you can add for free. When you shop online, these extensions look for promo codes that will automatically save you money on your purchase. 

To make the deal even better, if the extensions cannot find a promo code, they will give you points. Eventually, you accrue enough points that you can get a gift card. If you aren’t using a money-saving extension, today is a great day to add it.  

Buy Gear and Necessities OnlineRoad trip with kids

Another smart move is to buy your baby gear and other necessities like diapers and formula online. Huggable has a buying guide to help you decide what organic formula and other products are right for your family. Their buying guide shares the benefits of organic formula and where to find the best deals. 

Organic formula and eco-friendly baby products are expensive in brick-and-mortar stores. So, when you buy online, you can look around for the best deals. Or, you can save time and use the Huggable guide. 

When you buy your baby’s diapers and formula online, you do not need to pack up your child and go to the store. Many online retailers will arrange subscription boxes so that you can have your diapers and formula sent weekly or monthly. 

You can change the sizes as your baby grows, too. These conveniences are practically priceless, especially considering the lower prices you find from online retailers. 

Plan Ahead with Gifts

As your children move through preschool and into elementary school, you should expect that they will get invited to birthday parties. Buying gifts for all of these parties can become expensive. To prepare for the onslaught, you can plan ahead when buying gifts

Throughout the year, toys and other items go on sale. So, stock up when the sales happen, to avoid paying full price at the last minute. You can do the same with the gift wrap. You can also buy gifts for older family members as popular items like bedsheets, kitchen gadgets, and yard items go on sale in certain months. 

Birthday gifts aren’t the only thing you should be buying when they go on sale. There is nothing wrong with buying gifts for Christmas when items go on sale on December 26. You can save things for the next year, or give gifts on December 27. 

As children get older, they prefer getting gift cards instead of actual gifts. Believe it or not, but those go on sale, too. Amazon occasionally offers discounted gift cards, and stores like Costco and Sam’s Club also offer gift card discounts. Stock up, especially on popular ones like a video-game, restaurant, and popular retailer cards. 

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Use Amazon Subscriptions

If you’ve ever bought consumables on Amazon, you’ve probably seen the subscription offer. When you sign up to receive products on a subscription basis, you can save 5% or more on the items that you use. These are great deals because you get products you use delivered regularly. And you get a discount on them. 

Amazon sends a reminder before they send each subscription item. You can decide to have it mailed or pause the subscription, while still receiving the discount. Amazon often gives shoppers digital gifts if they can have their items shipped at a slower rate. 

Another great way to save money on Amazon is to take advantage of the daily deals. All-day long, vendors offer specials on everyday items. But, the specials are only available for a short time. Lightning deals are incredibly fun to check out because you never know what you will find, and many come with added coupons. 

Load Apps on Your Mobile Phone

Mobile phone apps offer several opportunities for saving money. There are coupon apps like Ibotta and Fetch Rewards that give cashback and gift cards when you buy qualified items. These apps are free to use, and they offer bonuses for referrals, too. 

Many people like to use micro-savings apps like Acorn, too. These are apps that you can connect to your credit cards. Each time you spend money, the apps will round up and put the difference in your savings account. The apps offer interest on the change that you deposit, and eventually, you find yourself with quite a bit of money. 

Your local grocery store and other favorite chain stores might also have money-saving apps. Nearly every grocer has a loyalty program with exclusive coupons. Stores and restaurants like Target and Starbucks also have apps with rewards programs that offer freebies after accruing points.

Become Friends with Facebook Marketplace

If you haven’t checked out Facebook Marketplace, you have missed opportunities to save money and make money. Facebook Marketplace is like a giant garage sale in your area. The site is organized by neighborhoods, so if you decide to sell something, someone near you can pick it up from your home. 

On Facebook Marketplace, you can list items for sale without paying any fees to Facebook. You can also shop around for things you need. So, before you buy a brand new backyard playset, check out Facebook Marketplace to see if someone near you is selling one that is like new but for half the price. 

Travel in the Off-seasonDiscovery Cove Orlando Florida

If you like to travel with your family, you probably know that the most expensive times are when school is out in late December and during Spring Break in March and April. Summertime is another costly travel time. You will pay a premium to travel at that time. But, if you want to enjoy a week with your family, try traveling in October, early December, and late January. 

You might be pleasantly surprised to see how much less expensive it is to visit Orlando’s theme parks in the off-season. Resorts offer large condos for low prices, and tickets to parks are often a fraction of the busy-season cost. 

Family cruises are also inexpensive during the off-season. While you could spend over $1000 per person for an in-season cruise, you might be able to spend under $300 per person in the off-season.