Money-saving tips for families big and small

If you've got a family or are planning to start one, these tips could come in handy when you're entertaining or trying to manage the costs of raising children.

According to an AMP.NATSEM report, the cost of bringing up two children for a typical middle-income family in Australia increased by approximately 50% over a five year period, while household income over the same period only grew by around 25%.

The report revealed that the costs of raising children, from birth until they finish their education, would generally cost a family between $474,000 and $1,097,000.

When trying to curb these growing costs, it’s important to remember that the smaller, everyday amounts can really add up over time. And, when entertaining the family, it’s often the simplest things—not necessarily the most expensive—which parents and their children enjoy the most.

We asked mothers, fathers, grandparents, godparents and the like to share their best money-saving tips for raising and entertaining children to give you some inspiration.

Meals at home and dining out

  • Plan your meals for the week and only shop for what you need. You’ll waste a lot less food
  • When dining out with the family, don’t order soft drinks or milkshakes - stick to tap water
  • Freeze homemade snacks, such as quiches and mini pizzas, in single serves so there’s always something for lunch
  • Make ice blocks and frozen goodies with yoghurt, fruit and juice that are soon to expire
  • If you’re taking the kids on a day out, pre-purchase tickets and pack your own lunch
  • Always take a drink bottle. Buying water can add up, particularly with multiple children
  • Cook biscuits or cakes with your kids at home. They’ll learn a skill and have afternoon tea.

Entertainment and sports

  • Go camping in your own backyard and cook outdoors
  • Plot a scavenger hunt where kids follow clues, solve puzzles or complete obstacles for a reward
  • Go for a bike ride around the local area or take the scooters
  • Join a toy library. Your kids and bank balance will benefit, and less toys will end up in landfill
  • Look up local council websites to find out about free events being hosted in your area
  • If you have a large family, ask for a family discount or see if one kid can go free
  • Spend an afternoon making your own t-shirts with fabric paints
  • Get the kids to make cookies, lemonade or crafty decorations. They can sell items to neighbours and raise money for their favourite charity at the same time.

Education and travel

  • Enjoy transport discounts on Sundays and visit free museums and galleries
  • Enrol kids in a good public school and put the money saved towards extracurricular activities
  • Get a library card. You can hire books, movies and music for free
  • Travel to a developing country. It’ll be a new cultural experience and your dollar may go further
  • If you’re going on domestic holidays – check for shop-a-dockets online for the area you’re visiting so you can enjoy food and entertainment discounts.

The everyday stuff

  • Swap babysitting nights with trusted parents in the area to save on babysitter costs
  • Search online buy/sell/swap pages and purchase things second-hand
  • Ask for discounts when purchasing multiple items from a store and take advantage of lay-by
  • Ask responsible older kids to bring younger siblings home to save on after-school care costs.

For most of us, having children is a big and exciting decision that not only involves emotions, but also financial smarts. This is why having a sensible budgeting and savings plan in place is important.

If you’re looking for tools to help you on your way, give our budget planner calculator or savings plan calculator a go. If you want help tracking your cash, download the MoneyBrilliant app.

Budget planner calculator

Use our Budget planner calculator to assess your current financial position and how much you may be able to invest. 

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.