Parenting is Expensive. These Expert Moms Reveal How They Save Big

ways to save money
AleksandarNakic/Getty Images
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

Being a mom is difficult, time-consuming and really freakin’ expensive.

Before your child’s first birthday, a family with a household income of $40,000 is likely to spend over $21,000, according to a recent NerdWallet study.

A chunk of those expenses stem from food (more than $1,100) and another chunk stem from miscellaneous items, like diapers, clothes, toys, and other things that come up (nearly $2,000).

Do these totals give you heart palpitations? Or are you nodding your head in agreement — maybe even wondering how it’s not more?

We scoured mommy money-saving blogs to find out how some power moms are saving on these essentials.

We found one thing many of them have in common: Busy moms love finding secret ways to save money — especially capitalizing on cash-back opportunities.

You’re not getting thousands of dollars back, but the small amounts can really add up.

4 Expert-Mom-Recommended Cash-Back Apps and Sites

We couldn’t help but laugh when Ashleigh Allman of Smart Cents Mom exposed her husband’s sarcasm in regards to her cash-back routine: “Wow! What are we going to do with those 10s of dollars you made this month from your cash back sites?”

She says she rolled her eyes in response — exactly as you should have, Allman, because every little penny counts when you’re dishing out $21,000 a year.

If you want to use some of the same tactics these women have, here are five mommy-blogger recommended tools.

1. Stop driving around town to price compare: Use Retale.

That’s not a typo; it’s Retale, a free app that aggregates weekly ads from all your favorite stores.

Jessica Morgan wrote about it in Jacksonville Moms Blog. She used it when she was running around town to try to find the best back-to-school deals for her kids:

“In an effort to save myself (and the kids) a morning of driving from one sale to another, I was determined to find a way to save time… The answer was as close as my fingertips.”

Retale lets you compare prices at different locations without Googling, calling or scoping out these spots

Download the app, choose “Find local deals” and select your favorite retailers. These range from Target and CVS to Macy’s, Dollar Tree and Whole Foods.

You can also aggregate your favorites deals within the app.

For example, Walmart’s latest coupons appear just as they do in a newspaper — but they’re not annoying and easy to rip. Flip through to find what you need. Then, click the thumbtack to highlight the one you want to use; it’ll get stored in your favorites.

You can also create a shopping list. Add your favorite brands. If a deal pops up, you’ll be alerted.

2. Use a cash-back card every time you swipe.

Earn points or cash back each time you go to buy another essential with a cash-back card.

Katie Quirk Dunyon, of Mom365, says this makes her feel better about dining out with her picky child:

“When you’re dining out, does your child frequently insist on ordering meals he never eats? Try this: Get a rewards card that gives you cash back or points on spending at participating restaurants. Then check your credit card statement and when it includes rewards from that last family meal out, well, it does help soften the blow of all that wasted food!”

Dining out is just one of the many instances you can earn points, depending on the card you use.

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.

There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire. We checked Credible’s annual rewards calculator, and it estimates $417 in annual rewards based on our spending habits.* (You can enter your unique spending habits and see what you’d earn, too.)

Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.

*Annual Rewards amounts will change based on the amounts you enter. The monthly spending category names and definitions may vary among issuers, and categories may not align one-to-one. 

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

3. Earn cash for printing coupons on MyPoints.

This might sound too good to be true — earn points for using coupons? But it’s real with the MyPoints online portal.

Rayven Perkins, the brain behind Stay a Stay at Home MOM, highly recommends the tool:

“I love using my points to get free gift cards (though you can use them for airline miles and other prizes too). Sometimes I use these cards to spoil myself, sometimes I get cheap…er, thrifty, and save them for gifts for family and friends at Christmas, birthdays, or mother’s and father’s day. / But whatever the reason, it’s fun to get free stuff in the mail.”

She actually signed up for MyPoints way back when — before her son was born. (Context: Her son was 12 when she wrote this.) She earns points by shopping, printing coupons, playing games and taking surveys.

For example, shop through the MyPoints portal to earn 5 points per dollar you spend on Amazon. When you collect 1,590 points, and you can cash out for a $10 gift card.

Even better, you can get a $10 gift card just for signing up!

4. Take a Picture of Your Receipt

The Ibotta app has tons of rebate offers at over 340 stores, including Walmart, Target, Aldi and Trader Joe’s.

Ginny wrote about her love for the app on The Simple Moms blog:

“I recently stopped my newspaper subscription because I just plain don’t have time to do the coupon clipping. 3 kids under 6 years old makes my brain mush and life busy. The Ibotta app is my coupon alternative and has simplified my life.”

She’d earned $117 in rebates.

Here’s how it works: Find rebates on your favorite products before going shopping. Go do your shopping. Then use the app to scan the items’ barcodes and submit a photo of your receipt.

Some rebate examples include $5 back on select Huggies products from Sam’s Club, $2.50 back on a case of Bud Light from Target (in case you’re that stressed…) and $2.50 back on Similac infant formula from Walmart.

If you join now, you’ll also get a $10 welcome bonus.