It’s Working Parents Day. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know this day existed or have been too busy packing lunches, doing school drop off, shuttling kids to activities and oh yeah, surviving at that other paying job called work.
Today, fellow working parents, is our day. It’s a day to put our feet up, relax and reflect. Who am I kidding? We’ve got kids!
While I can’t grant you peace and serenity, there are countless, budget friendly tips and tricks to help strike that much needed balance between home and work.
What’s for dinner?
Eating at home is a great way to save money, especially when you plan meals for the week ahead. This reduces the stress of daily meal planning and eliminates unnecessary trips and temptation at the grocery store, thus avoiding a strain on your budget.
Crockpots and homemade freezer meals are also a great way to plan ahead. They store well in your freezer for several months. Just allow a few days for defrosting!
Fun can be free
Some of my favorite memories with my kids have been free. Local parks, libraries and beaches are fun, affordable places to enjoy with your family and don’t have to cost a penny.
For activities with a price tag, look for discounts on sites like Groupon or Living Social. Or, consider buying annual passes or memberships to your favorites places.
I recently purchased an annual aquarium membership. The membership is tax deductible, pays for itself in two visits and offers additional discounts and access to special events.
Borrow, bargain shop and budget
Children’s activities like sports, dancing and music can be expensive. There are ways to fulfill your kids’ dreams without depleting your budget. Borrow equipment like baseball bats and balls or instruments to help save money.
You don’t have to pay full price to participate in activities. Bargain shop at thrift stores, consignment stores and clearance racks for great deals.
Make budgeting a part of your annual financial planning. Parents typically plan for expenses like housing, groceries and utilities, but often overlook children’s’ activities and the associated “extra” fees.
Take time for the kids… and you
Working parents seldom take time out for themselves. Unfortunately, many working parents don’t live close to family or can’t afford a babysitter when they are trying to make ends meet.
If money is tight, find a school parent or neighbor you can swap child care with. Perhaps you and a few other adults could chip-in for a babysitter for a parent’s night out.
And if getting away even one night a month is not an option, find creative ways to carve out time for yourself. This could be a good book and a glass of wine when the kids have gone to bed or doing a little pre-dawn yoga and a strong cup of coffee while the house is still quiet.
No one ever said being a working parent is easy, but with a little thoughtful planning and consideration for you and your budget, it can make work/life balance a lot smoother.