Trading items with friends and setting up weekly scavenger hunts are just a few ways to cut back your family’s spending

It’s easy not to think about finances until you have to—like when your sister decides on a destination wedding, or an unexpected car repair rears its ugly head—but financial health is an incredibly important aspect of your (and your family’s) overall well-being.

Financial health can really take a toll on your personal life, your relationships and your emotional well-being, according to the team at Prospera Credit Union. If you're feeling good about your finances, you're going to feel better all around.

When you have kids, putting away a substantial amount of money might seem impossible—but we spoke to a few families who beg to differ. They find creative ways to stretch their money a little further to save for the future.

To help you move forward with your family’s financial goals, here are five ways to save for a rainy day (or a sunny vacation)...

1. Adopt a sharing mentality

When you welcome a new addition to the family, it’s easy to want to buy them every adorable thing you see. Consider starting a clothing, toy or furniture sharing group with friends that allows you to borrow items that aren’t currently in use. For instance, if you just had a new baby and your friend has a six-year-old, she might have an old crib kicking around that she could lend to you for free.

“When I got pregnant, my cousin who has two teenagers called me up to set my head in the direction of sharing,” says Krystal Friesen, who welcomed her first child with husband Tim just over a year ago. “I approached a group of friends to ask for hand-me downs. What I came across was even better,” says Friesen. Her friends offered to share baby items that they weren’t using, with the caveat that they be returned when the owner needs them in the future.

2. Don’t spend big money on entertainment

ArtsKidsespecially young onescan be entertained quite cheaply. Consider organizing a weekly activity, like a scavenger hunt or ‘crafternoon,’ as an inexpensive way to have fun with your little ones.

“We have a few favourite parks and forests not far from home,” says Brooke Scott, whose blended family with partner Adam includes three daughters. “Inventing little scavenger hunts makes these a great, free weekend activity, especially now that the girls are convinced the rain is ideal for fairy hunting.”

3. Get creative in the kitchen

We all know that meal planning saves time and money and leads to healthier eating. But it also takes a bit of forethought and organization—so get the kids involved. Make an afternoon or evening of it by asking them what they’d like to take for their weekly lunches and then cooking it together.

“The girls are more inclined to eat things they wouldn’t normally try when it’s something they actually made,” says Scott. “Plus, you save money and eat better when you don’t buy prepackaged snacks and it’s a great way to keep the kids entertained.”

4. Shop during the off-season

Shopping for items like bathing suits and sandals in December might seem like a bummer (especially if there’s no tropical getaway in your future), but it’s often when you can find the best deals. The same goes for winter jackets and boots in July. Make a year-long list for your family to anticipate what you’ll need to buy in advance, and then set a date to shop off-season. All retail items go on sale at some point during the year. Pinpointing those dates will make you the savviest shopper around.

Deirdre and Andy Fang, who welcomed their first son a year-and-a-half ago, also advise new parents to purchase sale items with your child’s growth spurts in mind: “Keep an eye out for deals in a larger, future size!”

5. Set up a meeting with a financial planner

AdvisorsSo, what’s the biggest obstacle to a family’s financial wellness? According to Prospera, it’s taking the time to find those little places in your day-to-day spending where you can cut back—and then making that a priority. Tips and tricks are a great way to start; but at the end of the day, working with a financial advisor to help outline a plan is the first step toward becoming financially savvy.

Whether you’re confident in your family’s finances or not, making an appointment with a financial advisor is always a smart choice. Advisors at credit unions such as Prospera can help you identify and reach your financial goals by building a personalized plan that's tailor-made for your family’s lifestyle. They'll also keep in touch to make adjustments that ensure you stay on track as life throws you curveballs.