There are a lot of ways your family can save money. One fun thing to do is to establish a family game night, where you play board and card games together -- it's cheaper (and more fun!) than an evening at the movies or the mall. If you don't have family nearby, plan game nights with friends. (We have a discussion board just for board and card games -- pop in to see what games are tickling Fools' fancies.)
Here are some other ideas:
- Have a regular reading time, when all of you read some books or magazines or newspapers. It's good for the kids and good for you. And it doesn't cost much either.
- Buy a family pass to the local zoo or amusement park if you plan to go there frequently.
- Spend time at public parks.
- This may sound off the wall, but if you have the space outside and the interest, consider getting some chickens. It can be fun for the kids, and you'll have fresh eggs.
- Make your own baby food. In a food processor or blender, puree canned fruits and vegetables (preferably separately) with a little water or juice from the can. (Make sure you're not using products with a lot of unwanted sugar or salt, though.)
- Teach your children about the value of money by giving them allowances and expecting them to save up to pay for some things they want. If you can get them to save and invest some of their money, you might even institute a matching program, where you chip in a dollar for every one or two dollars they save. Eventually, get them investing in strong companies such as PepsiCo
(NYSE:PEP), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT). PepsiCo shares have advanced more than 5,500% in the past 20 years, turning $5,000 into more than $250,000. In the past 10 years, they tripled in value. Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil and Microsoft shares have more than quadrupled in the past decade.
- At restaurants, you might offer to pay your child $0.50 or $1.00 if she orders water instead of soda. You'll save a little money and she'll enjoy a healthier drink and earn a little money at the same time.
- Learn to cut your kids' hair yourself. You and your spouse might even learn to cut each other's hair. There are instructional videos and kits available. With a little practice, you'll likely be pleased with the results and will be saving considerable money.
For more ideas on how to save money, visit our Living Below Your Means discussion board (from which some of these ideas were drawn). For guidance on how to deal with money as a couple, check out The Motley Fool's Guide to Couples and Cash: How to Handle Money With Your Honey by Dayana Yochim.
To get your kids interested in saving and investing their money (and perhaps to ensure that you'll be treated to a first-class nursing home one day), consider giving them a copy of The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of -- or just point them to our special online nook for teens.