Rent Your Kids Out
"We're not sure if we're ready to have kids," your childless friends say. Budget-minded parents recognize an opportunity when they see one. Take advantage of the free babysitting by "letting" them use your kids for a trial run one evening. Just don't start laughing until you're in the car, where no one can hear you.
Buy Used Sports Equipment
You know you'll never get the stains out of that brand new uniform after the first practice. Rather than investing big bucks in brand new sports equipment, look for a gently-used version instead. Put a request out on Freecycle, check Craigslist, or find a local Play it Again Sports store.
Set Up a Flickr Account
Sure, Grandma loves to have her own copies of your little darling, but exactly how much are you spending printing out doubles of those adorable shots you're taking? Create a Flickr account instead -- or even start a personal blog -- and post your photos privately online. Relatives can download their favorites ... at no cost to you.
Increase Their Allowance
While it might seem counter-productive to give your kids more money when you're trying to cut back, it puts the responsibility for their spending back on them, leaving you free to "just say no" when they discover that new toy or gadget they absolutely must have.
Rethink the Hand-Me-Down
Hand-me-downs have come a way since you were forced to wear your brother's two-sizes-two big, ugly rubber winter boots. Take advantage of consignment shops, garage sales, and eBay for clean, quality, new-to-you outfits for your kids.
Forget the Kids Meals
Have you seen the kids' menu lately? It's all macaroni and cheese and hot dogs ... yuck. Broaden their taste and save money by ordering an adult meal instead, then divide it among the kids.
Rotate Their Toys
Let's face it -- your house already looks like Toys R Us ... do your kids really need to visit the toy aisle again? Keep things interesting by boxing up a third of their toy collection and storing it away. When you pull those toys back out, it'll be like Christmas all over again, without the expensive price tag.
Seek Out the Bargain, Not the Brand
Teens love to stick it to the man. Discourage brand loyalty by explaining that their sweatshirt emblazoned with a giant store logo simply turns them into a walking advertisement. Make it a game, instead, to hunt for the bargain ... stylish brand-free clothing at a more reasonable price.
Borrow Books, Don't Buy
Kids who have lots of books in the house tend to do better in school, but you don't need to actually own those books. Instead, borrow them from your local public library. While you're there, take advantage of their wide variety of programs ... more free family fun!