Practical Ways to Save Money Raising Kids
When you become a parent, you’ll quickly see how different your expenses are compared to when you didn’t have kids. You don’t have to deal with buying diapers, formula, clothes, car seats, crib, trips to the hospital, and many more. If you’re single or a couple without kids, the money that you’d spend on these things are probably going to your vacations, shopping sprees, savings, and investments.
The Cost of Raising a Child
Whether you’re planning on having kids or not, once the child is there, the cost of raising them is unavoidable. Ideally, you should have an idea on when you want to start having kids so you can plan ahead for it. According to CNN Money, you can expect to spend roughly $14,000 a year from the additional expenses of having a child (groceries, housing, clothing, child care, etc.) and adds up to about $252,000 by the time they’re 18 years old.
There’s no getting around it. Having kids these days is expensive and you should consider if you intend to work after childbirth, where you will live, and how to divvy up your finances. Childcare costs start even before they’re born and will be there until they’re living on their own.
Make a Child Care Budget
It’s good to realize the importance of a budget, especially when you’re expecting a child. That means another set of baby clothes, doctor’s appointments, health care, toys, day care, baby sitting, and much, much, much more.
Look over your budget and tweak it to accommodate all of your child’s basic needs. Sometimes it’s easier to organize your finances when you have a budget because every dollar goes where it should. It’s also good to establish an emergency fund. Literally anything can happen when raising a child and you want to at least have the funds ready when you need to make an emergency trip to the ER.
Make Practical Financial Decisions
While providing for your kids and spouse is your number one priority, it can sometimes be at the expense of your household budget. As mentioned earlier, parents will most likely have to cough up north of $250,000 while raising their kids through their first 18 years of life and that doesn’t include their college education and your own pregnancy-related costs.
It’s good to plan your finances before you have the baby and continue to modify your budget as your kid’s needs change. While you’re at it, it also helps to continue identifying ways to save on their expenses. Even simple tricks like opting for generic brands, shopping at thrift stores, and using coupons will make a huge difference in your potential to save more.
Easy Ways to Save While Raising Your Family
To get you started with money-saving hacks while raising perfectly fine kids, here are creative ways to help you save more money from your kids’ expenses.
Buy Gently Used Furniture
Getting a new crib, changing table, and other furniture for each kid you have can cost a lot, but if you don’t mind using second hand furniture, you’ll see a huge difference in cost. (We also recommend that you re-use your furniture when you have your second, third, etc. kids to save even more money.)
A good way to find second-hand furniture that is still in good condition is to ask around. Talk to other moms at church, your job, or at the gym who are willing to sell / give up their crib to make more space in their home. Most likely, there are parents who are one kid ahead of you and are ready to give up some of their baby’s things. Most often, these people are also just waiting to find someone willing to take their stuff off their hands.
Tell them you’ll appreciate the heads up when they’re ready to get rid of their furniture. Who knows, they might be discarding a car seat at the time when you’re just about to give birth. These simple steps of networking can lead you to a treasure trove of gently used products that will come handy for your own kids.
Check out the furniture personally before talking about the price. Chances are, the furniture will cost about half of its brand new counterpart. If you take care of it, even your next kids might be able to use it too.
Ask Friends For Hand-Me-Downs
Don’t be embarrassed if friends, siblings, and other close relatives offer old, but still useful items for your kids to use. Your kids may too young to realize it, but these free “gifts” will go a long way in stretching your budget (and help make their college fund last a bit longer).
If your kids protest about wearing hand-me-downs, you can start educating them about the values of frugality and why it’s not embarrassing to accept such items. For instance, you can tell them that you want to be able to save some money because of your current financial circumstances and that these items were given to them with love.
Additionally, you can also make hand-me-downs like new if you can improvise. Perhaps spruce it up with your kid’s favorite cartoon character or add some ruffles and glitters — whatever works. You may also replace hand-me-down shoes with new shoelaces for a refreshing change as well as ribbons, laces, sequins, and other items to clothing to give them a brand new image. Your younger kids may inherit items from their older siblings so it’s best to begin teaching the older ones to take care of their things. You want to give your kids shoes, clothes, and toys in the best condition possible and this should begin by setting an example for them.
You must instill the value of caring for things even if they’re still young. Simple things like telling the kids to put things at the right places so that they don’t get stepped on and broken will help keep them in good condition.
Focus On Experiences, Not Things
Create meaningful and memorable experiences for your kids without breaking the bank. Going out to eat once a week, or every other week, isn’t a bad thing as it gets you out of the house as a family while still letting you bond over sharing a meal together.
However, you can also take that experience out to your porch or backyard where you can enjoy Sunday breakfasts and weekend barbecues. They’ll treasure the experience just as much, possibly more so.
You can also save money by celebrating important dates like the kids’ birthdays in a more simple way. Sure, they’ll love a new toy and probably a big party with their friends, but that will only make the kids expect the same each time. Having a simpler celebration doesn’t mean that you love them less. You just want to be practical and reasonable with your budget and still show your kids that happiness doesn’t need to be expensive.
As far as birthdays go, you also want to define the experience properly to your kids. First, you want to make sure that they set realistic expectations. Ask family and friends to be reasonable with their gifts so that kids learn the value of thought over price of the item.
Learn How To Coupon
You don’t have to pay full price every time you go shopping. There are tons of coupons for food, personal products, health, and entertainment and you can use them to enjoy more discounts and savings. If you’ve never tried using coupons before, you’ve been missing out on potential chances to save more money.
The old-fashioned yet still popular way to save and use coupons is to cut them from newspapers and magazines by hand. You’ll need to spare a couple of hours a week sorting coupons and filing them neatly. You also have to ensure that you’ll be able to use them before they expire, but you can also shorten the process by looking at coupon websites and manufacturers’ websites. You can easily download those coupons to your smart phone and simply swipe at the counter.
One great way to ensure that efforts in clipping and organizing coupons will pay off is to focus on brands and products that your kids use. It’s also good to use coupons along store discounts to enjoy deeper savings. This process called “stacking” is even more ideal when stockpiling on non-perishable but frequently used products like tissue, wipes, body wash, shampoo, toothpaste etc.
Buy In Bulk
Buy products that you use often in bulk. Tissues, diapers, wipes, and other personal products are often cheaper when purchased in large quantities.
You can also buy food in bulk but you have to make sure that you can consume them before they spoil or expire. A great way to avoid that is to cook multiple meals at once, package them up in the container, and freeze the meals you won’t eat that week.
Buying in bulk is also a great way to take advantage of your coupons because you’ll compound your savings. Stock up on coupons of your favorite products and purchase them when they go on sale. This way, you don’t have to make multiple runs to the store during the week, which lets you save more time and money on gas.
Buy Clothes & Shoes Your Kids Can Grow Into
It seems like kids go through multiple growth spurts in the same week while they’re growing up and it can feel like they grow overnight. Shirts that fit today may be too small tomorrow.
Don’t go shopping for your kid’s exact size of clothing. Pick out clothes that are one or two sizes larger so that they can grow into them and wear the clothes longer. Trust us, your wallet will thank you for it.
When buying baby clothes, stick to neutral colors so the clothes your son wore can be re-worn by his little sister when she gets to be the same size. Neutral colors can be worn by either gender and makes it easier to pass down clothes from one sibling to the next.
Buy Clothes During Their Off-Season
Clothes typically cost less if you purchase them at least one season in advance. For instance, if you need new boots, coats and gloves for the winter season, buy them during spring. Stores are likely to mark them down because of lesser demand.
Also, take into consideration of the size of the garments when you buy clothes in advance. Remember that kids grow fast so make sure that even their new shoes and boots are one size bigger so they’ll fit easily and be useful for a longer period of time.
Have a Family Member Babysit
Having a nanny is an expense many families can’t afford. Even the cost of daycare can easily take a toll on your family’s budget. However, you can still cut the costs of childcare by asking family members to babysit while you’re at work.
You can ask a sister or a cousin to look after your child while you run errands. If they also happen to have kids of their own, your kids will have an instant playmate. Take advantage of this free time to do chores, take a much needed shower, work part time, or even catch up on sleep.
To keep this set-up mutually beneficial, make sure to return the favor to your sitter as often as possible. Even if it’s just be there to lend a sympathetic ear when they need someone to talk to, every little gesture goes a long way.
Work from Home
Try to work out a deal with your employer and spouse for a more flexible schedule. Having at least one spouse present during the day will help you save money from child-care cost. Then, the other spouse can work at night while the other takes care of the kids.
You can also take your work home, especially if it is computer-based. A lot of employers have no problem letting their workers to telecommute. Perhaps you can go to the office a few days a week to meet clients and attend meetings while you do the rest at home. This way, you’ll be able to watch your kids while getting work done.
If you’re also considering another form of employment after childbirth, look into jobs that you can perform entirely at home. There are numerous freelance, hourly, and contract-based jobs that you can do at home such as writing, editing, graphics, and web development among others. There are even sites that pay for your services like answering surveys, testing products, and mystery shopping.
The possibilities are almost endless and you just need to manage your time well so both your family and business will prosper in this set up.
Cook All of Your Meals
Restaurant food is expensive and fast food are not always healthy. Skip them both and enjoy more savings by cooking your own meals at home.
Cooking at home ensures the quality and nutrition of the food you feed to your kids. You know exactly what ingredients go into the meals and you’re able to avoid ingredients that your kids may be allergic to, or just hate.
To further save money on food, plan your menu each week and shop according to that meals plan. This way, you’re sure that you’ll use all the ingredients you bought and they won’t sit in your pantry until they expire. Planning your meals also help take out the guess work in what food to serve while preventing fast-food impulse purchases that cost so much more.
It’s also great to check flyers and use coupons when shopping for food. If you cook a lot of pasta, consider buying them in bulk to bring the costs down. Also, buy staple canned products, such as tuna and canned tomatoes, when they go on sale.
In terms of giving your children snacks, buy a larger bag of their favorite snacks and portion into single serving. Also, pack lunches and snacks for your school age children. Save restaurant meals for special occasions and choose establishments that give free birthday meals.
Get Rid Of Cable TV
Cable is nice to have, but it’s also an unnecessary luxury you and your kids can live without. A lot of people pay around $200 every month for cable which is an expense that could be better used padding your savings account or covering another bill or two.
While it’s good for entertaining your kids, there are also other forms of entertainment that come with zero price tag. Let the kids play outside, ride bikes around the neighborhood, or get them pets to play with. Cutting the electronics cord also helps reduce exposure to commercials for things kids feel they “need to have.”
Additionally, if your family watch a lot of movies on cable, you can opt for cheaper options such as Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. These services cost just a fraction of your cable subscription and . Now all you need to do is to make movie-watching fun by allowing kids to pick movies and preparing snacks for the family.
Shop Discount and Thrift Stores
The mall is a good place to get clothes for your kids, but there are a couple of other practical places where you can score items at a low price.
Look for thrift and second-hand stores selling high quality home products and clothes. It will take some time and effort to find what you’re looking for, but it’s worth when it is sold at a much cheaper cost than it brand new off the line.
A lot of thrift store are run by non-profit organizations. They accept donated goods and products and sell them at a lower price point. Venture to your nearest thrift store and you’ll find products that are still in good condition ranging from clothes, shoes, furniture, and home decor.
Another place you can score products at budget prices are resale shops. These shops are similar to thrift stores in that they are also often operated by non-profit organizations. But the prices in resale shops are slightly higher than thrift stores because products are gently-used and sometimes, even brand new.
You’ll also find some really great stuff at garage sales if you’re willing to go looking. These are really good places to find an assortment of old, gently-used products which you can take advantage of. You’ll need to inspect the product thoroughly to gauge its condition, but these are often some of the best places to shop at a budget.
It’s a good thing that most kids are not really brand conscious, so you won’t have to wrestle reasoning with them when they learn that their clothes came from thrift stores or garage sales. Also, it’s cheaper and easier to de-clutter and refill their wardrobe from season to season. You can let go of their old things and clothes easily because you did not spend so much on them.
Learn How To Sew
You probably didn’t give sewing much thought in terms of its money saving potential, but when you’re able to make / mend clothes and home products, you’ll actually feel the difference!
Depending on how good you are at sewing, you can make pajamas, curtains, and simple dresses for your kids. You can even sew your kids’ blankets, baby clothes, cloth diapers, and burp pads.
Library Cards Are Free
Reading is a an essential activity that helps kids develop comprehension and language skills. The US Department of Education reports that reading is linked to a child’s better academic performance in school.
Whether your kids are growing to be voracious readers or you simply want to instill the habit, then you’ll need to stock up on books to keep them occupied. But books are not that cheap, especially if they’re brand new.
A good way to keep them reading is to get their own library card. These cards are free and give instant access to a wide range of reading material at the library. Additionally, many libraries have DVDs for rent and allow computer use for free. Just visit your local library to see and bring your child along. Allow him to pick a few books to take home. Chances are, you wouldn’t have to spend another dollar on books he want to read on his free time.
Quick Handy Savings Tips
Save Money on Decorations
Your kid’s room don’t need to have brand new of everything. They’ll run over the carpet, spill juice and accidentally trip into decors. Save yourself the frustration and regret by opting for second-hand carpet and room furnishings.
Switch to Cloth Diapers
Disposable diapers are convenient, but they also cost some money. Opt for cloth diapers which you can wash and dry after use. Cloth diapers are not only money-savers; they’re also eco-friendly because they minimize waste on the landfills.
There are loads of freebies that you can take advantage of. For instance, you can bring home cotton balls, alcohol and digital thermometer from your hospital stay instead of buying new ones again. Also, your pediatrician might have sample products he can give you, like tube of eczema cream or a vial of medicine. It doesn’t hurt to check and ask, but the costs of these random free stuff do add up.
Take Advantage of Child Care Tax Benefits
The government provides tax credits to help offset the costs of child care.
Having a kid is a momentous event in your life. Not only are you shaping their future and taking care of their needs, you need to provide for them too. If you aren’t a savvy and frugal shopper, even the kids’ basic needs like milk, food, and clothes can feel like they cost a fortune.
You should keep in mind that kids don’t need expensive things and they also tend to remember experiences more than the price tag. Don’t hesitate to cook meals at home and watch movies in your living room. They’ll cost a lot less and you’ll make long lasting memories.
Additionally, shopping at thrift stores and opting to sew their clothes don’t make you less of a parent. A child needs to feel safe, loved, and happy. The label on their shirts don’t do that.
Cary Silverman is a consummate entrepreneur having sold multiple companies during his 20 years of business experience in the financial industry, but for him, it isn’t about the money. His success is rooted in his passion to focus on doing something better today than it was done yesterday. These days, he’s the CEO of Waldo General, Inc. that oversees the operation of King of Kash.