When did life get expensive? Every time I buy the kids a new pair of shoes, or book a plane ticket, or (and especially when) we went hunting for a house, it drives home how much more expensive things are than when I was a kid. With that kind of reality, it’s no wonder so many parents are struggling to figure out how to save enough money for their kids to go to college.

529 plans are AWESOME, but they don’t work if they can’t grow. With that in mind, I put my head together with a few of my favorite moms to round up some great cost saving ideas for parents.

  1. Refund apps. There are tons of these rolling around-Ibotta and Checkout 51 are my faves, but feel free to check out your own. These apps partner with popular brands to offer a dollar or two back on things you buy anyway, like bananas and milk. Think about how many times you buy these in a year and it adds up quick!
  2. Sale shopping. Not just hopping around between sales (especially flash sales, which can be amazing), but also taking competitor coupons into your favorite store. A lot of them will match the price, saving you money AND gas!
  3. Thrift stores and consignment shops. Kids, especially babies and toddlers, don’t wear clothes or play with toys long enough to really wear them out. Cribs? Jolly Jumpers? ExerSaucers? Train sets? Why pay full price when you can get it for under $10 gently used?
  4. Think free. Instead of spending $100 at the movies, you can go to a free movie night at the library or your local high school. Communities regularly plan events for kids, and the money you save on these free events can go a long way toward getting your children through school.
  5. Purchase a membership. We have a membership at our local science museum. Not only do we go almost every weekend, but we get into events that charge up to $50 or more for free. And since there’s always something new, the kids never get bored.
  6. Gifts. Having friends and family contribute to your kids’ 529 plans is great. If you’re not comfortable asking them to donate, however, you can take them more seriously when they ask what your kids need for Christmas. New blankets and shoes, warmer pajamas, favorite books, school pencils, field trips and bathing suits are exactly the kind of thing grandparents, aunts and uncles love to buy, and you can use the money you budgeted  for these to build up for their future.

Take what you save and put it into your kids’ 529. You’ll be amazed, I promise.

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Hey! Welcome to One Little Mister - a fun parenting blog chalked full of info, fun ideas, food and reviews.

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