Living on a budget can be fairly boring if you’re still trying to pay for everything.
But I haven’t spent money on my kids’ entertainment, airline flights, or Netflix in years. Here are the nine things I never waste my money on — I’ve figured out how to get everything free instead!
1. Never spend money to entertain your kids — get free classes, games and more instead.
Kids can also get two free games of bowling every day, all summer long, or free admission to any National Park (if you have a fourth grader)!
Check out our full list of kid freebies.
2. Never spend money on airlines — fly free instead.
I’ve flown my entire family to Disneyland twice by paying all my monthly bills with a Southwest credit card. Here’s a list of all the bills you can pay using a credit card — just pay off the balance every month to avoid interest.
Once you’re there, we have every hotel hack to keep you from overspending on things like meals out, kids’ sleeping arrangements and laundry on the road.
3. Never spend money on kids’ restaurant food — get free meals instead.
I keep our list of restaurants where kids eat free (with purchase of an adult meal) in our takeout menu drawer.
It’s organized by day of the week, so it’s easy to plan Mondays at Chili’s, Tuesdays at Applebee’s, or Saturdays at Quiznos.
4. Never spend money for online shipping — always get free shipping instead.
Get free shipping on your entire order from Macys.com by adding one beauty item to your order — like a $3 lip balm.
Get free shipping from Kohl’s when you place an order at any Kohl’s kiosk inside the store.
Get free Target shipping when you use your Target REDCard!
Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.
5. Never spend money on baby items — collect baby freebies instead.
Get free diapers, formula, bottles, nursing covers, car seat covers, onesies, pacifiers, books, wipes, soap, shampoo and more for your own baby — or to stockpile baby shower gifts.
Sign up for baby registries at Target, Kohl’s, buybuyBaby, BabyList, Walmart, and Amazon to collect introductory kits with free baby bottles, food samples and high-value coupons like $5 off Similac.
6. Never spend money on cable — share streaming subscriptions instead.
We interviewed one extended family who shares Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video. Each family member pays for one service while they enjoy the other two services free.
7. Never spend money on college tuition — attend a tuition-free college instead.
Free college almost sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
Residents of Tennessee and Oregon can attend community college for free. The City College of San Francisco is free for residents, regardless of income.
Harvard, Columbia, Yale and other Ivy League schools offer free tuition for students coming from lower-income households.
You can get tuition waived at Princeton if your annual household income is under $120,000!
Get the full list of free universities here.
8. Never spend money on drugstore makeup brands — get free makeup instead.
Use high-value makeup coupons from Maybelline, Covergirl, Almay, Wet n Wild, NYX and more on already marked-down makeup at CVS, Walgreens, Target or Walmart.
9. Never spend money on expensive nights out — plan free dates at home instead.
After the kids go to bed, you can create memorable date nights from your own house.
Prep a fancy cheese plate and picnic under the stars, use coupons to grab obscure ingredients for your own Chopped challenge, or download the Night Sky app to impress each other with stargazing knowledge.
TIP: Get free babysitting by swapping monthly date nights with another family. One set of parents gets a date night while the other set of parents hosts pizza and a movie night for all the kids.