32 Family Finance Experts Reveal Their Top Tips for How Families Can Save Big Money

Originally released by Ken Lyons on BostInno, March 12, 2014.

Helping families save money on wireless plans might be our expertise, but we know that smartphone usage is only a fraction of the total monthly expenses that most parents worry about. From groceries, utilities, mortgage and insurance payments, clothing, and children’s extracurricular activities, it’s no surprise that many families feel as though there is more they could be doing to save money and improve their financial situation.

To uncover the best money saving tips for families, we reached out to a group of family finance experts and asked them to share their “#1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving more money today.”

The responses we received were incredibly useful and creative, and we’ve compiled everything into this comprehensive family finance guide that’s packed with expert, money saving tips for you and your family. Thanks again to our panel of participants for their expert advice.

Stephanie Nelson

Stephanie Nelson is the Coupon Mom. Her web site, CouponMom.com, has 7 million members, and she is established as the nation’s top expert in couponing across the country. Stephanie has been on every major national television talk show and taught millions how to save money for the past 13 years.

She has been called ‘”the rock star of the recession” by the Washington Post and her book, “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half”, is a New York Times best seller.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

The most important tip to start saving money immediately is to shop strategically for groceries.

Plan your week’s meals around the featured sale items on the front of the grocery store weekly ad, be brand flexible by buying the sale brands of the items you need, be store flexible by shopping at the grocery store with the best prices on your items each week, and stock up on your high-volume items when they are on sale so that you never have to pay full price.

Use coupons for items you need from the newspaper, printed from coupon websites, and digital coupons from grocery store websites.

Strategic Shopping can cut the typical family’s grocery bill 25-50%, which translates to $200 to $400 per month for a family of four. Ongoing Strategic Shopping saves thousands of dollars in a year.

Heather Wheeler & Joanie Demer

Heather Wheeler and Joanie Demer are the founders of TheKrazyCouponLady.com, and are money saving, bargain-shopping and frugal-living experts. With their knowledge and savvy, they’ve sold over 50,000 books, garnered 8 million viewers per month at their website, nearly 1.1 million Facebook fans and more than 45,000 Twitter Followers. Joanie and Heather are also authors of “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey!”

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Every so-called financial guru will say you should set a budget, but the why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-before strategy that works perfectly for our families is loading our allotted budget onto a free, prepaid Visa and leaving all other credit cards at home. Now we’re able to retain the convenience of paying with a card and the ability to cancel the card or change the pin if it’s stolen.

When doing this, we get multiple cards and use them for everything–$250 for grocery shopping, $100 for clothing and $80 for entertainment. Whether we’re spending on everyday necessities, holiday gifts or even food and souvenirs on vacation, using a free, prepaid card keeps us from blowing the predefined family budget!

Karen Cordaway

Karen Cordaway is a part-time teacher by day, writer by night and money saving enthusiast all around the clock. She’s the Founder of MoneySavingEnthusiast.com where she writes about meal planning, saving money at the grocery store, kids and money, goal setting, and more.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today is to stop throwing spoiled food away. If you meal plan and make sure that you use items before they go bad, you won’t have to spend as much on food.

I’m inappropriately happy about getting a deal at the grocery store. However, the reality is, most Americans waste about 25% of the food they purchase every year according to the book, American Wasteland. This can total up to $2200 a year. Think of all the time writing list after list and perhaps cutting coupons only to have that savings thrown in the garbage can.

Cristin Frank

Cristin Frank is the Founder of Eve of Reduction, a lifestyle blog for frugal craftiness. She is the author of “Living Simple, Free & Happy and Rooms Repurposed”.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Unplug anything you are not using right now. Even if the washer isn’t running, if it’s plugged in it’s using energy.

Jeff Brice

Jeffrey Brice is the Founder and CEO of TrustEgg.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

No amount is too small. Whether you’re saving for your retirement or your child’s education, don’t hesitate to start. Saving $5 a month can start you on the path to saving $50, $100, $500+ every month.

Sherlyn Pang Luedtke

Sherlyn Pang Luedtke is a Success Coach, Speaker, Author, and Mom. She is the Founder of PresentParentTraining.com and serves clients all over North America through her live events, teleseminars, mastermind groups, and private VIP coaching. Her #1 Best Selling book, “The Mommy Advantage: How Having Kids Can Make You Happier, Healthier and Wealthier”, teaches moms how to use personal development techniques to alchemize the challenges of parenthood into joy, ease, fulfillment, and abundance.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Teach Your Kids to Manage Their Money.

My husband and I manage our income into different purposes (Tithe, Necessities, Play, Education, Save and Spend, and Save and Invest) and teach our kids to do the same. Our nine year-old son manages all his income and has bought most of his own toys. He is very close to buying his own computer. As a result, we spend less on our kids and the whole family cares about saving and investing.

Crystal Paine

Crystal Paine is the Founder of MoneySavingMom.com, one of the most visited personal finance blogs on the web with more than two million unique visitors each month. Crystal is also author of the recently-released New York Times best-seller Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life”.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Use Your Freezer to help limit eating out

I don’t know about you, but there are some days at our home when life whizzes by so quickly and all of a sudden, it’s 5 p.m. and dinner isn’t even a figment of my imagination. Before I started regularly cooking ahead and freezing meals, I’d be tempted to call my husband and ask him to bring something home for dinner.

Freezer cooking has solved the 5 p.m. “What’s-For-Dinner” panic. If I forget to pull something out earlier in the day, I’ll just pick a meal from my freezer stash that defrosts quickly — such as meatballs. I pair this with some frozen veggies, rice, and maybe a fruit salad. No one even has to know I forgot about dinner until 30 minutes before it was supposed to happen!

I’ve found that doing mini half-hour or one-hour freezer cooking sessions works really well for this season of our life. And while I might not be making 20 or 30 meals at a time, by consistently cooking ahead once or twice a week, we always have some meals in the freezer for those busy days when I don’t have time or energy for cooking.

Instead of having to make meatloaf three times in six weeks, I just triple the recipe and make meatloaf once and stick the extra two dinners’ worth of meatloaf in the freezer. If I’m going to be making one meatloaf, I might as well double or triple the recipe saving me the effort and mess later on in the month. After all, it really doesn’t take but a few more minutes to make two extra batches of meatloaf — and the clean up time is pretty much the same!

Liran Hirschkorn

Liran Hirschkorn is the Founder of BestLifeQuote.com, a national life insurance agency.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My number 1 tip is “Forced Savings”. Do something that forces you to save money automatically – whether that is a 401k contribution, or automatic transfer from your bank to a savings/investment account. Set it and forget it, and soon enough you will be surprised at how much you have accumulated without even trying.

Becca Daniels

Becca Daniels is a Blogger at Inexpensive Maternity Clothes, where she writes about how to achieve a stylish maternity on a budget.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My favorite tip for how families can start saving money: start with de-cluttering. Sell items your family no longer uses at local consignment stores and on websites such as craigslist.

For example, I love selling gently used maternity and nursing clothing at maternity consignment shops. Its a fantastic way to get back some of the money I invested into a new wardrobe.

My other tip is never pay full price for temporary items. This basically includes just about all the gear you need for your kids. Children outgrow clothes and toys so quickly yet these items are terribly expensive! Shop consignment shops and craigslist. There are also many local mom-swaps. Just one word of caution, do quick research before purchasing 2nd hand baby/child gear just to make sure you aren’t buying something that has been recalled.

Cindy Livesey

Cindy Livesey is a mother, wife, and founder of Living Rich With Coupons. Cindy founded her site back in 2009, when a layoff in the family forced her to put the family on a budget for the first time ever. When Livesey realized she was wasting away over $13,000 a year just on groceries, she started couponing, learning how to “stack” coupons with sales & promotions to save the maximum amount of money possible. She was able to pocket around $11,000 in groceries in one year and still feed her family healthy, well-balanced meals. Today, Cindy and the Living Rich With Coupons team provide thousands of readers with those same money saving tips.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Set Up a Zero-Based Budget.

Setting up a Zero-Based Budget is having every amount of income received and marked towards a line item in the budget. This allows you to know exactly where all your money is supposed to go instead of wondering where it went. It’s a great way to get started saving and understanding your income coming in and expenses going out.

Elle Kaplan

Elle Kaplan is the CEO and Founding Partner of LexION Capital Management, one of the only 100% woman-owned asset management firms in the U.S.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

To get the most from your money, you need a simple strategy that will make it easy for you to stay on top of your finances while still saving for the future. The 50-30-20 plan is an easy approach that allows you to stay on top of your bills, save effortlessly, and still have funds for fun. 50% of your after-tax income is spent on necessities (rent, bills, food ect.), 30% is spent on your lifestyle expenses and fun things that makes you happy (gifts, vacation, nice dinners), and the last 20% should be saved.

Making this happen can be as simple as setting up an automatic transfer to go through as soon as your paycheck hits your account. That way, the key 20% is instantly out of sight, out of mind as it goes straight into your save-and-invest account. If you wait until the end of the month, you’ll find too many excuses not to save. This way, you just set it, and forget it. Think of this as paying yourself first, and make it as non-negotiable as any other bill.

Keep in mind, 20% is the MINIMUM that should be devoted to savings. Do not feel like you have to spend your full 30% of “fun money” (strange concept, I know.) If you can save more, do it.

Timothy F. Shanahan

Timothy F. Shanahan is the President and Chief Investment Officer of Compass Capital Corporation, and is a Trusted Financial Advisor now in his thirty-sixth year of advising high net worth individuals, corporate executives, retirement plans, and companies. Tim has developed a sophisticated expertise in investment management techniques to manage individual and retirement plan assets and has built a well respected firm brand as “Your Trusted Financial Advisor” with 12 other investment adviser representatives. He helps clients through his planning and advice to achieve their hopes, dreams, and ambitions through the rearrangement of their financial affairs and the investment of their capital. Find more about Tim at his company website.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My tip is actually a strategy, because two things I was able to do to save with my own children was to put them on my company payroll early on and from their earnings to set up Roth IRAs to save for college tuition. The difference between my own income tax rate and theirs made this a very effective strategy.

From their pay, I had what amounted to their allowance set aside in a checking account with a debit card so they could access their finds as needed. The only condition was at least once a year they had to show me how they tracked their spending. I’m proud to say that both girls were very responsible with their spending and savings on their own and have very healthy attitudes towards money. Between 529 plans, which I also funded from their payroll and other savings, we in the end did not need to spend from the Roth IRAs and now my two adult children have a significant head start on their own retirements.

Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a full time blogger who has been writing the personal finance blog BudgetBlonde.com for almost 4 years. She is also a personal finance writer for the Huffington Post and several other well known websites across the web. She is just a few weeks away from becoming a mother to boy/girl twins and has been preparing her finances and her family for the new additions, all while blogging about the journey along the way.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today is to keep a list of everything you DON’T buy.

Financial experts are always telling people to write down their expenses, but I find that it’s much more motivating to write down everything you pass up! When you can look at a list at the end of the week of the cute new top you passed up and the latte you decided to skip, you realize you never needed those things to begin with. This causes a slight psychological change and let’s you know that most of the things you want, you don’t really need.

Matt Becker

Matt Becker is the founder of Mom and Dad Money LLC, a fee-only financial planning practice dedicated to helping new parents build a better financial future for their families.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

I would say the best way for families to truly save money, and not just spend less, is to set up an automated savings plan. Whether you’re putting money into a savings account, IRA or anything else, you can create a transaction that happens automatically on a regular schedule, often on the same day every month. The reason this is so powerful is because you’re building your wealth without ever having to think about it. And you can start small. Even a $25 contribution is better than nothing at all. The point is just to make it happen like clockwork.

Kay Boyles

Kay Boyles writes about ways to increase income and cut costs through frugal living on her blog, Green Money Stream. She invites everyone to join her on her journey to financial freedom.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My tip to help families save money right now is to cut down on all those recurring monthly expenses. Small differences can really add up. Look around and see where you can make changes.

You can save $50 to $100 a month by buying a digital TV antenna and then cancelling your cable. Instead of a $100 a month cell phone bill, you can get a Tracfone or Republic Wireless plan for $10 a month. I cut my son’s hair and save $25 every six weeks. Go through all your monthly bills and pick at least one where you can make changes and cut costs. I’ll bet you can save $100 a month right now.

Challenge yourself!

Christina Povenmire

Christina Povenmire, CFP, MBA, is a fee-only financial planner who owns her own practice, CMP Financial Planning. She has been in the business of helping individuals and families with their finances over 15 years.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My money saving tip applies to people with a little bit of self control;

Use a cash back rewards credit card to pay for as much of your expenses as you possibly can. The cash you get back then goes into a “found money” account that you can use as emergency savings, splurge account, vacation or even buy mutual funds or stocks.

I have used my found money account in similar fashion in the past. Right now I use it to buy mutual funds.

Monica Iannacone

Monica Iannacone writes about Saving, Budgeting, and Frugal Living on her personal finance blog, MonicaOnMoney.com. She became debt free this year and is working on paying off her mortgage in 5 years.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My tip: Start saving today with only $1 with the 52 Week Challenge, which is saving $1 per week for 52 weeks. This is an easy way to save $1378 in only one year (and barely feel it in your budget!)

Here’s an excerpt and link from my article “How To Save Money Even When You’re Broke”, where I write about the 52 Week Challenge:

  • It’s called the 52 Week Challenge. The idea is simple but effective and the money definitely adds up.
  • Start by creating a separate savings account. Name it “Emergency Fund.”
  • Starting this week, save $1 in that savings account.
  • Then the next week, save $2 in that savings account.
  • The third week, save $3 in that savings account.
  • You get the idea, each week, add an additional $1 to your savings account.
  • At the end of 52 weeks, *you will have saved $1378 in your savings account.*
  • Even if you’re broke, you’ll see that you can save money slowly this way. This 52 week challenge is also a great time to keep track of your budget to see where you can save money.

Matthew Moore

Matthew Moore is the Founder of Clear Retirement Group, and is a Comprehensive Financial Consultant to Individuals and Families in Portland, OR.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

I’m a personal financial planner to individuals and families in Portland, OR and the easiest, most important tip for families to start saving money today is to understand and get a hold of their cash flow.

Budgeting is the key to understanding how much is coming in, how much is going out, and what is left over to achieve financial independence. You also get a better picture of your spending habits and where you may be able to cut the fat out of your budget to put it to better use.

Maybe you don’t need to go out every night for dinner and would save more money by eating in. Maybe your cable bill is outrageous compared to the amount of time you actually use it. Although it can be difficult for people, looking at your budget, then putting a plan in place is the best and easiest way for families to start saving money today.

Laurie Itkin

Laurie Itkin is author of “Every Woman Should Know Her Options: Invest Your Way to Financial Empowerment” in which she describes how she started investing in the stock market at age 24 with a $1,600 inheritance and built a $1M portfolio before she turned 40. Laurie is a financial advisor at Coastwise Capital Group and founder of The Options Lady, which educates and empowers women and couples to take control of their money, become successful investors, and grow the money they work so hard to earn.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Roth IRA for the non-working spouse

It’s hard to imagine saving money for retirement when only one spouse works. Many people don’t know that they can contribute $5,500 per year ($6,500 if you are 50 or older) to a Roth IRA even if they are not working or earning income. If one or both spouses are working and the couple reports less than $181K in annual modified adjusted gross income, each spouse can make the maximum contribution to a Roth IRA.

Why is this important?

In a Roth IRA, your investment income compounds TAX-FREE. You have endless choices of investment vehicles, from conservative to aggressive and you never pay tax on the earnings or withdrawals if you wait until retirement. An added benefit is that if you have to take money out before retirement, there is no penalty or tax imposed on the amount you contributed each year.

If both you and your spouse contribute the max each year ($11K), assuming you invest in a diversified portfolio of equities that returns 8% annually, in 20 years you will have around $500K saved. If you can only contribute half that amount and choose a less aggressive bond portfolio returning 3% annually, you will have around $150K saved.

Ken Rupert

Ken Rupert is the Founder of The Vita-Copia Group, which offers strategic life coaching services, specializing in caregiver coaching, financial mentoring and estate and life management planning. Ken is also a Board-Certified, Master Christian Life Coach and is the author of four books: Strategic Goals: “The DNA of Personal Success”, “Planned Excellence: How to Achieve Greatness Through Strategic Planning”, “The Dynamics of Abundant Life: Living a Life of Purpose and Meaning”, and “10 Ways to Improve Your Retirement Planning: Behavioral Changes That Make A Difference”. Learn more about Ken’s work at kenrupert.com.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

If you want to save money you have to spend less. That is obvious, but how you spend less is by reducing your spendable income. I suggest increasing your contribution to your 401k by one percent a year. In addition to the tax favored savings you will receive, you are incrementally decreasing your spendable income which increases your budget awareness.

If you do not have a 401k, make an ETF directly to a Roth IRA. Both accounts restrict your access to the money. From that point forward commit every raise to increasing your contribution amounts by one percent a year.

Tracie Shroyer

Tracie Shroyer is a Blogger on 401kkid.com, a website dedicated to “Teaching Parents How to Raise Financially Literate Kids”. Tracy is also mom of three teenagers, and Author of “Investing in Your 401k Kid”.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

I can say that the single thing we do to save money as a household is to have the kids on a fixed budget.

We have three teenagers, and they have been managing their own budgets since they were 7 & 8 years old. They started out with small budget categories of gifts and food (for school lunches) and we added on categories as appropriate. For the last 6 years they have payed for all of their clothing, activities and other necessities on their own. Since we give them the same amount each month, the kids have become a fixed expense and are responsible for figuring out (with our help) how to afford the things they want in life. My husband and I do not have to worry about last minute costs for activities or events.

We went with this approach to money because we realized around 2008 that way too many people in this country have no fundamental idea about how money works. Although we teach kids to read and do math by giving them problems to practice with and books to read, without money they have no way to “practice” how to manage it.

Aside from the financial lessons they’ve learned, we’ve also avoided many of the teenage issue surrounding money and control. If they want to drive, they need the money in an account for insurance deductibles. If they want to be in more activities than their budget allows, they’ll need to save or find ways to earn more cash. As parents, we do treat them and splurge on fun things for them. When we do, they are grateful and excited.

We think this is a pretty unique way to raise kids and most of our friends do as well. When we started this program with the kids, we got a lot of comments that we were crazy to “give” our kids so much money. In reality, the money the kids manage has always been the money we would have spent on them anyway, we’re just giving them the ability to practice with it while the consequences are small. Now that our friends and family see how financially mature the kids are, they come to ask us for help and advice.

Timothy R. Brown

Timothy R. Brown is a finance expert and is the Owner and President of 360 Wealth Resources, LLC in Marina Del Rey, California. Timothy has over 28 years of experience as a financial adviser and is registered as an Investment Advisory Representative.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Whenever you receive pay increase, that’s when you increase your savings rate – but always reward yourself first. For example when you get that 5% raise, increase the 401k savings plan by 2% and enjoy a life style budget increase of 3%. You might feel better three ways:

Enjoy the fruits of hard work by an increase in take home pay. Feel proud of yourself for saving more and being responsible. Enhance success trajectory by taking full advantage of Employer contributions.

Jon Lal

Jon Lal is the Founder of BeFrugal.com, a free coupon site that helps individuals and families save money and earn cash back with printable coupons, promo codes and more, while shopping at thousands of online retail sites.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Families should start earning cash back for their online purchases. By investing about 15 seconds to visit a cash back website before shopping online, they can get back a portion of their spending (and it can usually be combined with credit card rewards points plus online coupons).

Simply visit a cash back website like BeFrugal.com, click through to visit one of 3,000+ online stores participating and you’ll be brought to the store’s website to shop as normal. Later on you can get a check in the mail or via PayPal. The average rate on BeFrugal.com is 7%. This video shows you how it’s done: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xonb3PyWPVU

Nancy D. Butler

While in the process of a divorce, Nancy took her children and with no child support, alimony or other source of income, moved 70 miles away and started her own asset management and financial planning practice. After building the business to approx. $200 million in assets under management, she sold the business. Nancy is now a national professional speaker and consultant to help business owners do a better job for their clients and improve their bottom line. She also speaks on topics to help individuals live a successful life and realize their dreams.

Nancy’s first book, “Above All Else, Success in Life and Business”, was published September 2012. She has been quoted in many local and national publications including USA Today, Money Magazine and The Day and has been a speaker for major corporations such as Pfizer, General Dynamics and Dow Chemical. Learn more about Nancy’s work at www.aboveallelse.org.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

With every dollar that goes through your hands there are three places it has to go, pay your bills, save some and spend some, but not necessarily in that order and not equally allocated.

Most people do pay their bills, but they handle the balance of the money they have left backwards. You should pay your bills, save some and spend what’s left. If you do not save first, you may never have the money you need for the big things in life you really want. Finding the proper balance to how you allocate your money can be the key to financial success.

Shani Curry St.Vil

Shani Curry St.Vil is a Personal Finance Expert, Blogger, and Author of “10 Things a Every Woman Should Keep In Her Purse”. Shani is also mother of two tots, and husband to one real smart entrepreneur. She heads up the Purse Empowerment, a Financial consultancy and community that inspires women to think beyond the brands on their bags, but the contents within them.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Set Goals, Make a Plan to Execute as a Team

One of the coolest things that I have my family to do on the 1st day of the month is discuss all the things we feel we need as a family. It could be some things we may want to partake in, or it could be some things that we have lagged behind in. Be it new shoes for the children, a trip to the movies, or an exterminator for our home. We write it down on our shopping list. Here is what’s happening this month, here’s when we’re going to do it, and this is how much it’s going to cost.

Often, things that didn’t get accomplished the previous months may make the list again. This help us cut back on mindless spending, and it makes us our own accountability partners, So, when my 3-year-old ask for a new toy and it’s not on the list, my response is: son that didn’t make it to the list this month. Or if my husband waltzes in the door with a new box of electronic toothbrushes, I can say hey that’s not on the list. He whimpers, but back it goes.

Debbie Hague

Debbie Hague is an instructor for Online Trading Academy and is the author of “Trade Like a Pirate”. Debbie derives great personal satisfaction from helping people to acquire the tools needed to become financially independent. She believes instructing reinforces discipline and rules in her own personal trading and financial planning. She is excited about sharing her passion with others and has taught thousands of students.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Set Goals, Make a Plan to Execute as a Team

Come up with a 30/60/90 day plan. Think about what financial goal you want to achieve within 30 days. It should be a short & attainable goal. Then think about where you want to be financially in 60 days, and so on for 90 days. This should be done each quarter for families.

For example, by the end of 30 days, I want our family to have at least $1,000 in our emergency fund. Within 60 days, I want our family to have not over-spent our budget. By 90 days, I want our family to have a savings plan for education.

Bill Dwight

Bill Dwight is the founder and Chief Dad of FamZoo.com. FamZoo, short for “my family is a zoo”, is a Web-based family banking service that helps parents teach kids and teens good personal finance habits through hands-on practice. Parents set up a private, fully customizable “Virtual Family Bank” to manage their children’s earnings, spending, saving, and charitable giving. FamZoo has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TIME, NPR, the PBS TV Series BizKid$, Doreen Bloch’s book “The Coolest Startups in America”, and best-selling author Bruce Feiler’s book “The Secrets of Happy Families.” In both 2011 and 2013, FamZoo was voted Best of Show at Finovate, the premiere showcase conference for emerging financial technologies.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Get the spending you’re doing on your kids under control and motivate them to save money on behalf of the family. Parents are notoriously ad hoc when it comes to kids and money. Opening a virtual family bank puts a simple system in place to get that spending under control. My company, Famzoo, is one place you can create a virtual family bank: http://blog.famzoo.com/p/famzoo-faqs.html.

Leah Heffner

Leah is a wife of 1, mom of 2, and blogger for other moms of little people working with The Respect Dare ministry. She loves to find ways to save money while being crunchy and green, but mostly frugal as she and her husband work to be debt free! She loves being on this unbelievable journey that God has her on. Learn more about Leah at www.leahheffner.com.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

Figure out how to DIY something that you use a lot of – I just started making disinfecting wipes about eight months ago. They cost me less than 50 cents for 30 wipes and they are super green! I also do laundry soap, dishwasher soap, shampoo, body wash, hand soap, fabric softener, all purpose cleaner, and more! You’d be surprised what you can DIY for cleaning products with some vinegar, essential oils, and (really) just a little bit of time!

Cyndi Finkle

Cyndi Finkle is an entrepreneur, finance guru, mom, and lifestyle blogger at Practicalandmeaningful.com.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

My most important tip for how families can start saving money today is to go on a financial diet and spend no money for 30 days. Here is my blog post about it.

Twice a year my husband and I choose a month where we decide that we are not going to spend any money. We pay our normal bills but we limit ALL spending other than that.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • We do not go out to eat, go to the movies, or buy coffee.
  • We park around the block rather than pay for metered parking. We do not valet.
  • We do not buy clothes, have things fixed, order books.
  • We do not go to the spa or to the bike shop.


  • We eat what we have in the house. We wind our way through the cupboards, filter through the pantry and empty out the freezer. This helps us to utilize all the past food purchases that had been abandoned and forgotten. We do buy fresh veggies and some fruit – but not much else. This is good for your soul. A spring cleaning of sorts.
  • We give each other massages.
  • We take baths.
  • We redeem gift cards and gift certificates. Using these feels way more satisfying when you are not spending money.
  • We take our friends up on offers to treat us to dinner. (We give full disclosure that we are in a no spend month and it ignites the conversation which usually inspires people to try it)
  • We read the books we already own.
  • We light a fire and go for walks.
  • We reconnect.

When the month is over, we have literally reset our spending habits. When we go out to dinner, we are way more appreciative. We are aware of what we spend money on. Everything feels more meaningful.

I challenge you to try it.

Jennifer Chung

Jennifer Chung is a family & parenting expert, mom, and co-founder of Kinsights.com, a parenting community and online health record keeper.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

There are a few tips that I strongly believe in, so I will include them all:

1. Clear your credit card debt, because interest rates on credit cards are usually high. Money paid in interest is like throwing money away. If you must use credit c ards, pay off the balance each month.

2. Menu planning can save hundreds of dollars a year at the grocery store. Create menus each week before you go to the store, and then create a shopping list and stick to it. Try using an online meal planning service for a small annual fee (usually less than $60/yr), as the weekly menus are catered to your families preferences and the shopping lists and nutritional values are already calculated for you.

3. When purchasing new appliances or electronics, don’t purchase the extended warranty. With today’s technology, breakdowns are not as prevalent as they used to be. Also, most extended warranties will expire before needed.

4. Shop online and price-check major purchases beforehand. Many online retailers offer free shipping so that you’re not limited to your local area for goods. This is especially helpful for families that live in rural areas.

5. Pack a lunch to take to work rather than eating out every day. Not only will you see a savings in your pocketbook, you’ll always realize a reduced caloric intake too.

John Heath

John Heath is the Directing Attorney for Lexington Law, the nation’s trusted leader in credit report repair and has helped over 50,000 clients repair their finances since 1991. As a consumer advocacy law firm, Lexington Law works to ensure that credit reporting remains fair, accurate and fully substantiated.

“What’s your #1 little-known, yet important tip for how families can start saving money today?”

One of the easiest and most important tips for families to start saving money, is to first, pay yourself. Set an amount aside and deposit into a savings account each pay period. Second, pay your bills and obligations in a timely manner. You can save money by avoiding finance charges, late fees and other financial penalties that are assessed when you pay a bill late. Third, shop the ads. Many retail chains and grocery stores post items in a weekly ad. Finally, take care of your credit. A higher credit score often means better access to more advantageous interest rates. If you have a low credit score take steps to correct that credit score by seeking out professional credit report repair services.

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