If you have kids, you already know how expensive they can be. They’ll eat you out of house and home, require plenty of doctor’s visits, and grow out of clothes that you bought them a month ago. Kids are great, but they aren’t easy on your wallet. Thankfully, we’ve searched the internet over for some of the best money-saving tips around, all specifically related to children and families that are just starting out. And of course, if you have any tips that come to mind, feel free to share them with us!
How to save on groceries Groceries are a huge expenditure in most households with small children. Some of the best ideas we’ve found to save money in this area include:
- Plan early, plan often. Write up a list beforehand and stick to it no matter what.
- Give your children an “allowance” every time they go to the store with you. That way, they don’t keep asking you for a hundred different things, and you can better manage how much you spend.
- Look for the lower end (but still decent quality) shopping markets around town, such as Lulu Hypermarket, or the Union Cooperative. You can also check out local markets around town that offer fresh produce for low prices.
- Always be on the lookout for deals. Check the newspapers and look for coupon booklets at the front of the store.
- To keep your kids occupied, write mini-shopping lists for them, and tell them to go find those items. They’ll be focused on the task at hand, rather than all the tasty looking food on the shelves.
How to find the best bargains Bargains are everywhere—you just need to know where to find them.
- For instance, an “Entertainer” book is crammed with tons of coupons and gift vouchers to use, usually over 50,000 Dhs-worth! Best of all, it only costs about 400 Dhs, which is a huge steal.
- Tons of websites offer great deals on food and merchandise in UAE-based retail outlets and stores. For example, groupon.ae operates here, as does crazydeals.ae, deal2meals.com, and livingsocial.com. If you’re not into tracking all of these individual sites, you can sign up at Dubai Deals (www.dubaideals.ae), which has ALL of the deals offered on these individual sites.
Alternatively, you could win more stuff (instead of finding cheaper places to buy it) It may be hard to believe, but some people make a decent income from winning just a few of the thousands and thousands of sweepstakes, competitions, games that companies offer to promote their business.
- You’ll find most of these competitions on the company’s website. Most of them require that you simply fill out a form and send it in. Incredibly enough, this can generate not only side income (from winning smaller prizes) but even bigger prizes like vacations, cars, and even homes.
- Listen to radio stations and read as many UAE-centric magazines as you can. You’ll also find these competitions going on in restaurants, hotels, and businesses across Dubai and the rest of the country.
How to save around the house This is a big one. It’s all about cutting back on what you don’t need and making what you have last as long as possible.
- Why buy an expensive household cleaner when you can make it yourself? All you really need is baking soda or bleach and some water. Viola! Hydrogen peroxide also works, as does vinegar.
- When it comes to the laundry room, make sure you flip all of your clothes inside out before you throw them in. This preserves the color longer, which means you’ll go clothes shopping less. We also recommend hanging your clothes out to dry (since the UAE has plenty of sun to dry them!) and never perform a wash until it’s full.
- Considering a home remodel for the kids? You may be able to save a ton by doing it yourself. There are tons of websites dedicated to creative thrift shopping, and you can create some amazing things without having to spend a ton of money on a home decorator and all-new stuff. Just give Pinterest a look to see what we mean!
How to save on entertainment Entertainment is one of the biggest household expenses. Even when we try to be frugal, fun still wins out from time to time. The good news is you can still find some inexpensive (or free) entertainment options in the UAE that offer plenty of fun for the whole family.
- First thing’s first—grab that Entertainer book! It costs just around Dhs 400 to purchase (possibly cheaper on their website) and will save you tens of thousands of Dhs throughout the year. It will save you money on all the big theme parks such as Big Bus, Desert Safaris, and Wild Wadi, not to mention all of the coupons available for restaurants, movies and more. (Note that you can find some Entertainer books second hand, or alternatively you can swap vouchers that you aren’t going to use for something more interesting.)
- Don’t just hit up the same old restaurant when you go out. It may feel like a break from the norm, but it ends up feeling like the same night out as last week, and the week before that. Instead, have a picnic at a local park, or try a place you’ve never been to before. Or dine in and invite friends over for dinner and a board game.
- The UAE is FULL of beautiful locals, including parks, beaches, and open areas. Pack a lunch, get out there, and explore!
- Keep an eye out for any grand openings (checking the newspapers is your best bet), either for restaurants or retail outlets. They’ll likely have great deals and lots of people will be there to enjoy the festivities.
- There are a few places in the UAE that offer indoor play areas, which is especially useful during the summertime. These businesses usually offer discounts on weekdays, so check them out.
- Why spend money to watch a movie in a theatre when you can just watch NetFlix at home? Plus, it will save you a bundle of money if you love renting movies. NetFlix is a monthly cost and allows you to stream thousands and thousands of television shows and movies in your own home. And hey, while you’re at it, you can make some homemade popcorn. It costs 10x less than movie popcorn and tastes just as good.
- Sign up for sites that are known for their giveaways and deals. Facebook is your friend here. Just do a search for family groups and see what it comes up with. You may even make some good friends while you’re at it.
- Throwing a party for your child? Try searching Pinterest for awesome DIY party ideas. Everything from cakes and games to presents can be found online, and it costs almost nothing to get started. You can easily make personalized cards from scratch and giftwrap them using stuff around the house as well!
How to save on toys If you’re not careful, toys can deplete your income incredibly fast. You want to make your kids happy, and we understand that. So the next time your child has a birthday, consider these awesome (and surprisingly cheap) gift options.
- If your child has the nicest and newest all the time, he or she will crave it non-stop. What was cool yesterday is forgotten the next. That’s bad news for your wallet, and bad news for the amount of clutter in your home.
- Second hand doesn’t have to be lame. Your kids may love playing dress up with the stuff you find at the local thrift store. Look for hats, gloves, coats, and even old jewelry (maybe stuff that you don’t use anymore).
- Children love boxes, and you can get them for free in most retail outlets. Go to an appliance store and ask for boxes there. Chances are they’ll be happy to give them to you.
- Don’t want to buy art supplies? Take the kids to the beach and find sea shells, rocks, and other items found in nature.
- Forget about buying books new. Either look for a used book store, or swap books with other parents in the area. You’ll never run out of books this way and it will save you a ton of money in the long run. You can do the same thing for toys, too!
- Give your children some sidewalk chalk and let them go to town on your front drive. You can easily clean it off afterward and they can do it again the next day.
- Still not sure what to do? Check out Pinterest, or Google more ideas on the web. The internet is a massive store of information and ideas for your kids.
- Don’t let your kids push you into getting more toys then they really need. Keep tabs on what they use, and what they don’t use. If they want another toy, tell them that they have to donate one that they already have.
How to save on clothes Growing pains are tough on your child and your wallet. Make sure you take advantage of these tips to save big on your child’s clothes!
- Look for clothing exchanges nearby. You can trade clothes that no longer fit for stuff that does. Many places will give you store credit for the clothes you turn in. And what you buy could very well have only been used a handful of times.
- Alternatively, you could check out garage sales or flea markets for used clothing (or lower quality new goods). Dubizzle and Baby Bazaar are two options that are worth trying out in this regard. Even if you’re squeamish about used items, you should give these a try. There’s nothing on clothes that cannot be cleaned off with a good wash.
- Do your friends have kids? Ask them if there’s anything they don’t need anymore! Most parents don’t know what to do with all the stuff their kids grow out of. They would probably be happy to just hand it over.
- Lastly, if you are intent on buying new, there are a few places that offer great discounts on children’s clothing. Places like The Babyshop, Carrefour, and Carters should be your first stop.