From the very get-go, parents have to acquire a whole new raft of baby equipment; buggies, car seats, prams, and more. Then they’ve got the ongoing costs associated with raising a young child: diapers, wipes, baby food, and so on. As their children get older, the costs soar. They suddenly want — sorry, need — new toys, clothes, electronics. You get the idea.
If you are trying to raise a kid on a budget, you will want to stick around for this. I’m going to run down some amazing, money-saving services and websites, all fantastic for parents.
Eating out is an expensive luxury for many parents. Thankfully, most restaurants offer kids’ meals. These tend to be cheaper than the equivalent adult meal, have appropriate portion sizes, and offer foods that children will actually eat. The problem is finding them.
Thankfully, KidsMealDeals makes this easy. This online service, along with its Android, iOS, and Blackberry apps, allows you to search for kids’ meal deals in your area by zip code and city name.
Baby Cheapskate (US)
With almost 187,000 fans on Facebook, Baby Cheapskate is an undeniably popular money-saving blog. As the name suggests, it’s aimed at parents of young children looking to save a few bucks on the daily essentials, and it really delivers.
It essentially acts as a briefing on the top deals of the day in multiple categories, including Nursery on a Budget, Organization and Storage, Hot Deals for Cool Kids, and Toys That Get Played With. With updates posted multiple times per day, you can guarantee you won’t miss anything good.
Although the name of this Facebook group includes the word “student,” you don’t have to be a broke, ramen-munching freshman to use it; 10 Ways is open to pretty much anyone. I’ve followed it for a good few years, in the process scoring everything from discounted Cadbury Creme Eggs to cinema tickets.
Essentially, it aggregates deals, bargains, and glitches from around the web, and often features deals aimed at parents. In the past, I’ve seen baby toys, clothes, and bouncers, all steeply reduced. If you’re based in the UK, it’s well worth following.
Cashback Services (US & UK)
If you buy a lot of things online, you might want to consider signing up to a cashback service. There are a few around, but they all essentially do the same thing: reward consumers with cash back equal to a percentage of qualifying purchases.
As Kayla Matthews explained last year, the cashback market in the US is seriously competitive, with lots of competing players. From her piece, only one stood out as being particularly compelling: TopCashback (which, incidentally, is huge in the UK)
What makes TopCashback so great? First, it has no minimum payout threshold, meaning you can get paid whether your balance is $.01 or $100. It also transfers 100% of its affiliate commissions from partners to its users, meaning you don’t lose out.
They’re surprisingly generous, too. If you shop at Motherhood Maternity online, you’ll get 6% of your purchase back. At Toys ‘R’ Us, it’s 2%. BabyDepot gives you 5% back.
Some credit cards also offer cashback services, where a percentage of your spend is either credited to your bill or given to you as a check. Of course, what you get depends on the terms and conditions of your credit card. For a run-down of the cashback cards on the market, check out these great sites for finding the best credit cards.
The cinema-going experience in the US could’t be more different than in the UK. In America, the seats are more like LA-Z-Boys. They actually recline. You have legroom. Oh, and tickets are actually affordable, with many cinemas offering matinee discounts. It’s hard to understand why American movie theaters are in such a terminal decline.
In the UK, you practically have to remortgage your house to take your family to the cinema. That’s why ShowFilmFirst is such a breath of fresh air. It gives out free tickets to unreleased and very recently released films.
Of course, it’s not an entirely altruistic venture. ShowFilmFirst is part market research, part word-of-mouth marketing company.
The films available vary, and I’ve seen some decidedly family-unfriendly flicks through ShowFilmFirst. But for every sweary Jason Bateman film or ultra-violent action romp, there’s been at least one for younger audiences. Even better, it often has free tickets to plays and concerts as well.
Amazon Family (US & UK)
If you’re a regular shopper at Amazon, or just really impatient, you probably want to get an Amazon Prime subscription. Although you have to pay for it, and it certainly isn’t cheap, it’s worth the money.
Amazon Prime gives you access to free two-day shipping and a number of other great benefits, including streaming services (in the UK, you get one-day shipping, one of the perks of living in a country the size of Wyoming). Amazon Family is essentially a version of Prime aimed at parents.
It costs just $99 or £79, which is the same as standard Prime, but it also offers subscribers 20% off diapers and other discounts on household items. It’s the perfect marriage between convenience and affordability.
Amazon Baby Box (US & UK)
Fun fact: Did you know that all new mothers in Finland get a box before their baby is born? It comes from the government and includes everything you could possibly for with a new baby: clothes, diapers, wipes, toys, you name it. It even comes with a mattress. But you don’t have to move to Helsinki to get a baby box.
In the UK, you just have to be an active Prime subscriber with an account age older than one month and have an active baby wishlist. You can then request a box, which will be shipped to you free of charge. It’s worth noting that if you have a discounted student Prime subscription, you won’t be eligible for it. To get around that, you’ll have to upgrade.
The UK box is worth £46 (around $70) and includes blankets, toys, teethers, bottles, and more.
Amazon also offers baby boxes in the US too, although it’s far less generous, consisting mostly of samples of hygiene and baby products. To get your hands on one, you need to have have a baby registry with at least $10 worth of items purchased from it.
It’s worth noting that, if you want, you can purchase a box with cash. They cost £46 and $35 in the UK and US respectively.
Amazon Subscribe and Save (US & UK)
Finally, I want to touch on Amazon’s Subscribe and Save feature, one of the best ways to save on your Amazon purchases. This allows you to make savings of up to 5% on common household goods and groceries, simply by setting up a monthly subscription, which can be cancelled at any point.
Not everything from the grocery and household sections is available, but I did a bit of cursory searching and found you can get diapers and baby wipes. This is great for those parents who don’t have time to run to Costco to stock up on the basic essentials.
Over To You!
Most parents will be happy to find that there are lots of great websites that will help them save money on their expenses, from infants’ diapers to toddlers’ toys to school-age children’s clothing. These sites are great to get you started on saving, but there are certainly more out there, and we want to hear about them!
Have you found any amazing money-saving websites for parents? Or found ways to use these sites to save even more money? Drop me a comment below and we’ll chat.