As you may know, I have two young daughters, ages 7 and 5. Watching them grow into intelligent, funny, kind young ladies has been a dream come true. And even though I am incredibly frugal, I have never regretted a single cent I have spent on them.

At the same time, having kids means dealing with some unavoidable new expenses. There are doctor and dental appointments to worry about. Daycare isn’t cheap, plus you have to feed the little rugrats. And when your children are really young, you’re going to have to deal with diapers.

When I was a new parent, some of these expenses were a bit overwhelming. I mean, coughing up $700 hundred dollars a month for childcare isn’t easy on anybody. I’d hate to think what it would have been like had we used a daycare center!

Even worse, these expenses come at a time when many of us are just getting started financially. Saving money ain’t easy when you’re supporting a young family. That’s why it is especially important to save where you can without putting a giant dent in your budget. Here are a few ways to do just that!

5 Ways Parents Can Save Money

1) Buy used toys. Shopping at garage sales and using Craigslist are fun and easy ways to save money on your kid’s toys. Besides, kids really don’t need that much anyway. Just stick to the basics, and don’t worry about acquiring every new toy that comes out. I mean, sure the new doll that pees and craps its pants is neat, but your kid definitely doesn’t need it – especially when they’ll play with a wooden spoon and a plastic bucket. Heck, call me a Scrooge, but I’ve even bought used toys several times as Christmas presents! #GASP! #SorryNotSorry

2) Buy used clothing. Again, when it comes to clothing, garage sales and Craigslist are a must. Buying your kids new clothes can be a total waste of money – especially when they are little. Personally, I’ve bought complete used wardrobes for my children and only added in a few new items. Since I have two girls, I’m lucky to be able to save all of the “hand me downs” for my youngest daughter. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve bought them a few more new items. But, the vast majority of their wardrobes is still used clothing… and I’ve literally saved thousands because of it!

3) Avoid convenience foods. It can definitely be a pain to come home after a long day at work and cook dinner for your kids each night. However, I think that it’s easier if you start feeding them fresh foods at a young age. For instance, my kids often eat some kind of berries, shredded carrots, or broccoli at dinner. Sometimes, I serve these fresh foods with pancakes, scrambled eggs, or spaghetti. Sure, I cook something out of a box occasionally. (See Also: 6 Reasons I HATED “Blue Apron”) But, for the most part, they eat fresh foods that don’t take a lot of time to prepare. I know I’m saving time and money this way, but I also feed confident that we are eating for our health as well.

4) Only buy what you actually need – especially for newborns. Have you ever been to a baby supply warehouse store? They have aisle after aisle of crap you don’t need. Make sure you have the basics – a crib, car seat, bottles, diapers, and clothing. You don’t need a cute white contraption to put dirty diapers in. Just put them in the trash! Oh, you can skip the baby high heels and the potty seat/iPad combo unit too!

5) Don’t set expectations too high. If you are always buying your kids the newest toy on the market or a candy bar at the grocery store, you may end up with a problem on your hands. Setting the bar too high when they are young can have immeasurable consequences. This is something many parents struggle with (me included, sometimes). When I do, I try to remind myself of that old MTV show My  Super Sweet Sixteen. In the end, I want my kids to respect money and enjoy the things that they have. I don’t want my kids to think that they need to have flashy wardrobes and parties to be happy. Setting reasonable expectations when they are young means that they may learn to appreciate and be happy with the things that they already have. So far, I think I’m succeeding. (Fingers crossed…)

Final Thoughts

Saving money doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time, but with just a little effort, deals can certainly be found. And as you’re saving that money, remember the example you’re setting for your children. In the end, kids need your time far more than they need things in their life. Chances are, they’ll never remember that silly hatchimal. What they will remember is how you provided them with the love they needed, the stability they craved, and the examples you set in all things money and beyond.

What are some ways that you save money on your kids?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!