Balancing both your family life and your bank account is tough at times — and sometimes it feels like the money is going out much faster than it is coming in. But being budget conscious is not always about what class you fall into; it's about making smart decisions as a family. And the best part is that you don't need to sit around clipping coupons if you're looking to save a few extra bucks; simply changing these small things in how your family operates may be exactly what your bank account needed.
Source: Shutterstock 
Monitor Craft Time
One of the times my kids are the most wasteful (other than mealtimes) is when they craft. From leaving markers uncapped to coloring one mark on every single page of a coloring book, crafting can be very wasteful. I know it's tempting to throw a bunch of crafts at your kids and sneak off to get things done while they're occupied, but keeping a closer eye on the projects will save your wallet in the long run.
Source: Flickr user AForestFrolic 
Take Control and Cut Down on Waste
The fine line between letting your toddler learn his way and not letting him waste an entire carton of milk while learning how to pour is a tricky one to navigate. So pick and choose the things that are less wasteful for your tot to learn on. For example, have him fine-tune his motor skills by cutting old newspaper instead of new construction paper, or let him learn to pour water in the bath before graduating to milk.
Source: Flickr user Jessica Merz 
Set a Gifting Price Limit (and Stick to It)
Pick a dollar amount that you'll spend no more than for a child's friend's birthday, and do the same for gifting inside the immediate family. After the boundary is set, it will help keep kiddos in check when they start begging you to spend more.
Source: Flickr user whyohwhyohwhyoh 
Participate in Mommy Swaps
A simple Google or Facebook search will reveal mommy swaps in your town or city. Can't find one? Start one. People are always looking to trade or buy/sell items cheaply but especially children's clothing, gear, and toys.
Source: Flickr user ashleigh290 
Join a Co-Op
Although it may sound a lil' hippie-dippie, co-ops are a fantastic way to cut down on costs. From schools to groceries to babysitting, parenting co-ops decrease the financial burden on some of the priciest parts of parenting.
Source: Flickr user Kirsten Skiles 
Parents of preteens and teens know that one child can spend an abnormally long amount of time showering. Instead of letting money run down the drain while they're just wasting time (and doing God knows what), set up a time limit for showering.
Source: Flickr user Evil Erin 
Use Bikes Whenever Possible
I know for most of us, it's not necessarily realistic to use our bikes for the daily parts of life, but for all the extra stuff, try to figure out ways to use your bike instead of your car (ride to the pool, park, friend's house, etc.). Bonus: kids love bike rides, they'll be well exercised (read: sleep well), and it saves on gas!
Source: Flickr user eyeliam 
Have you ever gone to the grocery store at 4:45 p.m. when you're hungry, your kids are hungry, and you have no idea what to make for dinner? Chances are that was not your cheapest grocery run ever. Avoid the grocery store splurge by planning out your meals ahead of time — you might even be able to plan and buy based on sales at your local store.
Source: Flickr user Liz 
Pack Lunches (and Not Just For School)
Frugal mamas know that packing lunch is a key way to save a few bucks, but keep in mind that while it helps during school, it also makes good fiscal sense to pack a lunch for your family whenever possible (and it helps avoid dealing with a hungry brood and no good food options).
Source: Flickr user Melissa 
Eat Out For Free
Of course you're going to still eat out as a family from time to time, but if you really want to keep to a budget, then try to dine at restaurants where kids eat free  (yes, that's right, FREE!).
Let's face it, family vacations are pricey. Kids (and you even) will have just as much fun if you do a staycation this Summer. Backyard campouts or visits to local landmarks can be just as memorable, if not more, than a pricey trip away with financially stressed-out parents.
Source: Flickr user Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough 
Utilize Free Museum Days
Another quick Internet search will show that nearly every museum across the country offers free days at some point during the year. Figure out when those days are for the attractions near you, and utilize those days with your family whenever you can.
Source: Flickr user Valerie Everett 
Make Chores Mandatory
Instead of hiring outside help or paying your own little helpers, make some (or all) chores just another daily part of your family. If you want to reward children for their work, think about using a point system instead of a dollar system.
Source: Flickr user Mary-Frances Main 
Case Out New Clothes
One of the biggest money pits, when it comes to children, is their clothing. They grow so darn fast, and it can be expensive outfitting a child who only fits into something for a few wears. Instead, think bigger when it comes to sizing. The term, "He'll grow into it," is true and will save some dough in the long run.
Cap Off Activities
When you are trying to tighten your belt, limiting the amount of extracurricular activities your child participates in is one way to cut back. A planned activity, class, or camp (or two) shouldn't break the bank, but if your child is signed up for three or more activities, then you're going to be paying for it (both in dollars and time). Remember, an overscheduled child is not always a happier child.
Source: Flickr user River Arts