In today’s economy, many families are looking for ways to spend less money without making sacrifices. Easier said than done … but it only takes a little effort up front to save time and extra expenses in the long run. Check out these tips for saving money and having a happy family to go along with it.

At the Salon

Cutting out family haircuts can be a huge money saver. Have you calculated the amount of money your entire family spends on hair cuts in a year? My husband alone spent $480 a year on twice monthly haircuts. I headed to YouTube and watched a few basic hair cut techniques. After stocking up on a pair of hair shears, hair clippers, trimmers, and a comb (for under $50), I was ready to go. You can start with the basics and practice simple techniques, for instance cleaning up the neckline and around the ear. Get comfortable with the tools. My husband was my guinea pig as long as I promised to take it slow and not hack at his hair. We are able to save hundreds every year and get four haircuts done in an hour.

At Snacks Time

Not giving in to the temptation of fast food is another big money saver. We are on the go everyday. Whether it’s running errands, taking my oldest to practice, or heading to games. It never fails, my boys are practically always hungry and thirsty. To keep them from begging to stop at the nearest fast food joint, I keep an insulated lunch pack handy. Pre-planning snacks is key to keeping them satisfied. Healthy snacks that aren’t full of empty calories are my main concern. Beef jerky, clementines, popcorn mixed with candy pieces and nuts, juice boxes, and small bottled waters work well. Mix it up and in turn save hundreds of dollars.

On the Weekends

We are a busy family; it seems every weekend we have so much to do and little time to get it all in. So we make sure to schedule in a monthly “all out fun day.” Instead of trying out a new destination each month, we’ve opted to choose a couple of our favorite places and purchase yearly passes. In most instances an annual pass is the same price as two single-day visits to a destination. By alternating through the zoo, SeaWorld, and theater passes, we have our fun days at a fraction of the price.

Out of Your Wallet

Give each child a weekly allowance. I always dreaded taking my boys into a store, even the grocery store. They want everything in sight. We started a new tradition: if you want it and you have enough money for it, it’s yours. My eleven year old gets $11 every Friday and my three year old get $3. If my son wants something he has to use his own money. I encourage them both to save it for something they can appreciate. It gives them a whole new perspective on asking for that candy in the grocery line, or a toy at Target. My oldest wants a new laptop, we cut a picture out of a circular with the price and placed it in his wallet. Anytime he thinks he wants something the picture reminds him that he is closer to getting what he really wants.

What tips do you have for saving money as a family?