Regardless of your income, it’s always helpful to find avenues to optimize your family’s budget. There’s no need to wait until you’re strapped for cash to take advantage of tips and tricks available to consumers everywhere. Maybe you want to get ahead on your mortgage payments or save up for the family vacation you’ve been planning. Whatever the case may be, a world of savings is available to you if you know where to look. Don’t worry, we did the legwork for you; below are ten tips that can help any family reach their financial goals.

1. Kids Eat Free: A Guide

Everyone wants to dine out, but doing so too often can take a toll on the family budget. While we’re not suggesting that you ditch eating out entirely, it pays big to be strategic when choosing when and where you eat. Most restaurants, especially major chains, have incentives for customers who bring in their kids. From free food to fun activities, kids are number one. Take some time to find out when your local restaurants are offering free kids meals, and how you can take advantage. You might find your new favorite dish, and your kids are sure to thank you for a fun evening.

2. Meal Prepping

We understand that preparing a week’s worth of meals ahead of time can seem like a hassle, but it is one of the most effective ways for families to save money. Firstly, it saves a great deal of time in the long term. Not having to scramble to find a meal that will feed everyone on the fly reduces stress and allows you to focus on your other commitments. Plus, if you pre-plan your meals, you are less likely to succumb to the temptation to dine out as much and spend unnecessary money.

3. Couponing

Coupons are widely available to us all, but hardly anyone takes advantage of them. The truth is, customers who take the time to find the right deals save hundreds if not thousands on their food costs each year. While this sometimes means visiting different stores for the best deals, digital coupons and apps such as Ibotta and eBates, make the job easier than ever. Stores like Kroger let you pre-load coupons onto a card, saving you the time spent clipping coupons at home.

Family Financial Planner4. Sign Up, Subscribe, Save

Don’t be shy about signing up for mailing lists and subscriptions! By signing up for updates from businesses, you’ll be the first to know about the hottest deals and savings they have to offer. Often, stores will run deals for a limited time, and failing to capitalize on them can mean compromising on your budget. Let your email address keep you ahead of the game.

5. Going Shopping? Leave The Kids At Home

We’ve all seen it: the kids begging for this snack or that toy. We all want to keep our kids happy, and it can be hard to say no. Even with an iron resolve, they present a major distraction when shopping for groceries or supplies. By leaving them at home, you can avoid the overpriced action figure and buy only the items your family needs.

6. Find Gold At Thrift Stores

Don’t get scared off by the notion of secondhand or donated clothes. Top-quality items are available for pennies on the dollar at thrift stores and consignment shops. Additionally, scour Facebook for “buy, sell, trade” groups, along with apps like Poshmark and Letgo. Not only will you find huge deals, but you’ll have the opportunity to make extra cash off items and clothes you no longer need.

7. Credit Card Rewards

Credit cards are often unavoidable for families. We all know the risk involved in credit cards, but if you’re going to have one, why not make it work for you? Credit card companies offer rewards of various kinds, from cash back to airline miles to hotel rewards. Do the research, and get the card that can best help your family, but be mindful that these rewards won’t fix the debt caused by overspending.

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Asking for help from friends and family can ease some of the burden you’re experiencing. Having a family member watch the kids while you spend quality time with your spouse or get extra work done can reduce stress and help you stay ahead on your tasks. Raising children is a life project and a tough one at that. No one expects you to do it alone. Reach out!

9. Fun For Free

When the kids are restless and want to do something, that doesn’t mean your wallet has to take a hit. There a number of free activities that will keep them happy and entertained. You can take them to the local library to explore books and audio adventures. You can take them and their friends to the park to play or host a game night at the house. Plus, check community websites — there is no shortage of free local events to keep your kids amused.

10. Survey Says: Save Big!

It’s true! Companies pay customers to fill out surveys about their spending habits and product preferences. This information is helpful to them, and it can be helpful to you. Many companies offer discounts and gift cards for their merchandise. Some even offer Visa gift cards that can be used everywhere. Use the things you already spend on to your advantage. It won’t take long to find dozens of surveys that can give you an advantage on your family budget.

Balancing family life with tightening budgets can seem daunting, but taking simple steps like these can alleviate the pressure. For more tips and tricks on saving money, investing and more check out our blog. Financial freedom is a journey, MAP can help get you there.