August 24, 2016
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Have kids, or plan on having them soon? If so, you’ll want to sit down to read this. The cost of raising a child, from birth to age 18, is nearly a quarter of a million dollars. That doesn’t even include the pregnancy or college education! No wonder you’re so broke all the time.
Kids are a lot of fun and it can be rewarding to raise them into productive adults. There’s no doubt that having kids is a life-changing experience, but it doesn’t have to ruin your finances. A lot of things we buy our kids are not necessities. They need food, shelter and clothing – not a load of expensive electronics.
Don’t let the cost of raising kids depress you – or prevent you from having kids altogether. You don’t have to go bankrupt in the process. It just takes some savvy spending. Need some help? Follow these tips below.
- Buy secondhand. Craigslist and your local thrift stores like Goodwill are gold mines for buying children’s clothes and toys for dirt cheap. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on back to school shopping when you can get shirts and pants for just a few bucks. You may feel weird about buying used toys, but in reality, many toys that are for sale are gently used. A kid may have played with them several times before they moved on to the latest and greatest toy. These toys are typically like new.
If you're not interested in secondhand clothing stores, you can visit our coupon pages for Children's Place, Crazy 8, Carter's, and OshKosh B'Gosh for sales, deals, and coupons at prices you won't believe.
- Get to know your child’s friends and neighbors. One of the biggest advantages of doing this is that you can save on babysitting costs. If you work full time, you can have a neighbor watch your child for a few hours after school. You can also have babysitting exchanges, where you watch one parent’s kids for a few hours one night, and they can watch your kids on another night. You won’t have to pay for childcare, which can be a family’s biggest expense. In fact, child care and education can cost as much as $44,000!
- Don’t pay full-price for food. Food is a huge expense for many families. In fact, expect to send nearly $40,000 on food for your child. This includes school meals, which you typically can’t save on unless you’re a low-income family. But if you’re a middle-class family looking to save a buck, there are many ways to do so. First, have a plan in place. Make a list of things you need at the store and stick to it. Don’t give in to impulse purchases. Also, avoid buying name brand food. Store brands cost much less than name brands, and taste nearly identical. Use coupons whenever possible to save on your grocery bill. Buy in bulk if you can freeze the food. Avoid eating out, which can be costly.
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- Cut back on transportation costs. Driving your child around to school, doctor appointments, after school activities and other errands will set you back more than $33,000. Thinking buying a new car will help? Think again! Buy slightly used instead. A car that’s just a year old can save you 20%. You can also save money by keeping your car properly maintained. Use an app to find the lowest gas prices in your area. Encourage your child to walk or ride a bike to his or her destination, if feasible.
- Visit the library instead of the bookstore. When your child wants to read a new book or watch a movie, don’t head to Walmart and buy it. Go to your local library instead. Libraries have thousands of books and movies for you to check out. The best part? It’s free of charge! If you buy a book or movie, and your kid doesn’t like it, you’re stuck with it. When you rent them from the library, it doesn’t matter if your kid doesn’t like because it won’t cost you a dime. Make use of the local library for your child’s entertainment needs, and you’ll save hundreds and even thousands of dollars over time.
- Utilize the neighborhood park. If your kids are bored and looking for something to do, head to the local park. Parks typically have playgrounds, as well as basketball courts and even skateboarding areas, so there’s something to do for kids of all ages. It’s free and easy entertainment!
- Entertain at home. As a parent, you may feel the need to be always doing something educational with your child, such as learning about art and science or attending plays. While these types of activities certainly enrich your child, they can be costly. Why not find ways to do these activities at home? Want to teach them about art? Show them some famous paintings, whip out the paint and paper, and have them duplicate these artworks at home. Have them put on a play based on a favorite book, complete with costumes created from items found around the house. Have a movie night at home by popping some popcorn and watching a family favorite. You’ll have fun, enrich your children, unleash their creativity and save money in the process.
- Don’t spend extra money on the children. When you have less money, you learn to make do. You’ll notice that families who make much less than your family still manage to take good care of their children. The kids are clothed and fed, and they have a place to live. They learn to live with the basics. These kids don’t have smartphones or fancy iPads. They don’t get new toys or designer clothing. They live a simple life, and your kids can, too. Just because you make more money doesn’t mean it needs to go toward the children. Give them basics and make sure the bills are paid. Eliminate debt. Save for retirement. You do have the right to focus on yourself. In fact, you should every once in a while if you want to maintain your sanity. Child rearing is not always a joy, after all.
You might also like: 9 Important Money Lessons Every Parent Needs to Teach Their Kids
As a parent, your focus is on raising happy and healthy children – not spoiled ones. Teach your kids about the value of a dollar – as well as the value of hard work. They’ll appreciate everything you do for them instead of focusing on getting you to buy them everything they want. You’ll end up spending much less than the projected $245,000 it’ll cost you to raise a kid.