University of Illinois Extension

Strategies for Spending Less

Recreation and Leisure

  • Choose activities that are free or cost only a small amount of money such as hiking, picnicking, visiting a museum or attending a free concert. Attend school or community events.
  • If you entertain at home, have potluck affairs for family and friends. This way, everyone shares the food costs.

Child Care

  • Try to arrange your family’s schedule so one parent is available to care for children while the other parent works. If both parents are unemployed, try to alternate child care responsibilities so each will have an opportunity to look for a job or have some personal time. If only one parent is present in the home, try to share child care duties with a relative, neighbor or friend.
  • Form a babysitting co-op with other parents.
  • Investigate public nursery schools and day care centers. Arrange car pools with other parents for children’s school and extra-curricular activities.
  • Some job training programs provide child care. For more information, check Community Agencies That Can Help.

Miscellaneous Expenses

  • Carefully consider each gift or donation. Reduce monetary giving and donate services instead. Make gifts instead of buying them, or give services such as babysitting, elder care, house watching or pet care, mowing, or plant care.
  • Consider the cost of habits such as smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages. These habits are expensive, and you may want to reduce or eliminate them.
  • Stop magazine or newspaper subscriptions when it is time to renew them. Use your public library to find information you may need from these sources.
  • Set a reasonable amount for children’s allowances and have a definite understanding with them about what they cover.
  • Can we substitute something that costs less?
  • Can we use our skills to make it?
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