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12 parents reveal their best money-saving tips

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Cooking at home is one parent’s secret weapon for saving money.

Ask any parent for their best money-saving tips and they’re bound to have a trick or two up their sleeve. 

After all, raising kids is expensive: The average American family pays over $11,000 just in the first year of a child’s life, and nearly $250,000 by the time they’re 18

Business Insider asked parents with children of all ages to weigh in on the financial side of having kids, and they shared their best advice for keeping their household bills in line while supporting a family. 

Below, we’ve anonymously included 12 of these parents’ best money-saving hacks (Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.):

Shop consignment shops for kid’s clothes. Save ‘new’ clothes for special occasions.”

Know what you’re trying to accomplish and understand your values. It’s easier to say no to impulse buys and pointless spending when you know your values and have an idea of how to use your money to accomplish your most important goals”

Use free technology programs that can help you payoff loans or save more. Student Loan Hero allows you to learn how to manage student loans, Acorns to roundup change towards savings, and Level Money to create a budget.”

Learn to cook and learn how to really grocery shop. Entertaining at home can save a TON of money.”

If it is physically possible, take up active pursuits like hiking, biking, and swimming as long as you are healthy; it’s hard to spend money in the forest.”

According to the parents surveyed, some kid expenses are totally worth the cost. Others, not so much

Pay yourself first, [put part of] every paycheck into savings, even if it’s a small amount.”

Let Grandma buy it. No matter how cute it is it will be filthy and discolored in a month.”

Birthday parties are a complete money suck. First, don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Do what works for your budget. The second and more important consideration is what makes sense for your children. Would they truly enjoy a house of people running around with a jumpy castle and petting zoo in your front yard, or would they prefer a one-on-one day with mom and dad?”

Loading up on too many baby clothes is typically the biggest mistake new parents make before having their first child. 

Don’t buy something unless you have cash to pay for it. Keep only one credit card, and pay it off every month.”

“Make a budget every month and use cash to pay for items. Prioritize your items.”