Parenthood doesn’t come with a handbook, although there is plenty of helpful parenting advice available online. There are also countless parenting books available at your local book store or library. Becoming a parent is exciting, but at the same time, it’s a very challenging prospect. You want to raise a child who’s loving, giving, responsible, tech-savvy, eager to experience all life has to offer, and above all, happy. The temptation is to throw lots of money at the task, but that’s not the right way.
There’s no denying that raising children is expensive. How significant that expense is, however, depends on how you approach it. The parental decisions you make also have an impact. From the moment you realize a new addition is on the way, the bills start racking up. Hopefully, your medical expenses won’t be too much because you’ve got the right kind of health insurance. The initial medical expenses are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Estimates put the cost of raising a child at a staggering $233,610.
Would you appreciate some money-saving tips to help you reduce that figure? Keep reading because there are plenty of those to come.
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Create a Personal Budget
An excellent place to start for anyone is to create a personal budget. This rule applies even if you haven’t started a family yet. You can be old-fashioned about it and use a pen and paper. On the other hand, why not go the high-tech route and use an Excel spreadsheet or budgeting app?
Laying out your expenses and income, all of them, allows you to realize where your funds are going every month. It can be quite an eye-opener, but it is definitely worth the time and effort.
Tracking your spending highlights areas in which you can save. For example, you might be spending lots on food, but throwing lots of it away at the end of the week. Your budget might highlight the fact that you’re spending too much on acquiring the latest gadgets. A list of expenses might also make you realize how frivolous you are with your money.
You may find your spending habits need to be changed if you want to be able to save for your family’s future.
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Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
If your budget has highlighted the need to reduce your monthly expenses, there are lots of ways you can do this effectively. Don’t be worried you’re going to have to become a hermit. You can have an enjoyable life and put money away into a savings account at the same time. You can save money on your expenses in one or more of the following ways:
Cut Food Costs
You can reduce the size of your grocery bill by planning your meals every week. By doing so, you’ll only be buying the things you need and not wasting money on things you don’t. Another great idea is to only take cash with you to the grocery store, thereby limiting the amount you’ve got to spend. If you shop with a cash limit, all those extras lining the shelves won’t tempt you. When planning your weekly menu, take advantage of produce that’s in season. Stop buying processed food. Make your own at home for far less money. This way, you know what has gone into everything you eat if you’ve made it yourself. It’s a healthier option.
Make Birthdays a Simpler Celebration
Make the emphasis on memories rather than money when celebrating your child’s birthday. It’s also a valuable lesson for their future. Explore the world of low-cost activities, or better still, birthday activities that cost nothing at all. A day at the beach or a sleepover watching movies are just a couple of examples that come to mind.
Be Frugal with Your Cacation Choices
Family vacations can be a considerable expense. There are, however, many ways to reduce the cost. Shopping for last-minute travel deals is just one example. Another option is an inexpensive staycation at home. When you’ve got young children, pitch a tent in the backyard, and explore your local town.
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Plan Your Holiday Shopping
How many of you get carried away when it comes to shopping for the holidays? Set yourself a sensible budget and put some money aside every month. When it comes time to buy for Christmas, you’ll have money saved to cover the cost of gifts.
Cut Your Household Bills
Housing costs are probably your most significant expenses. But don’t worry, because you can do something about the size of your household bills. Stop wasting money, heating, or cooling your home by installing a programmable thermostat. If you’ve got spare rooms, consider renting them out. Take showers rather than running a bath.
Pay Down Any Debt
It’s all too easy to find yourself in a spiral of debt. It’s not quite so easy to get out of it. It is, however, possible. Try one of the following strategies and see if they work for you.
- Debt snowball strategy – You work to pay off your debts, starting with the smallest balances first. Try this strategy if you’re going to be spurred on by a reduction in the number of outstanding debts.
- Debt avalanche strategy – you work to cover your debts, starting with the ones with the highest interest rates. More people are going to be interested in using the debt avalanche strategy because it costs less in the end.
Pay off your debts, and there will be more money in the family budget for savings. You’ll also have money to spend on your child-rearing and yourself. If you’re not sure where to start, you can get expert help and advice with debt management.
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Cut Back on Expensive Frills
Look at your monthly expenditure. Check whether you can do without any of your expenses. Do you go out and treat yourself to expensive dinners and a movie every month? You might have more fun if you invite some friends over for a movie night and homemade snacks. Better still, encourage everyone to bring their homemade food and try out each other’s cooking.
The cost of entertainment can eat into your budget very quickly, but there are often much cheaper options. Add children into the mix, and you’ll be amazed at the fun you can have for nothing. An excellent work-life balance becomes so much easier to achieve when you’re able to have fun times together.
Don’t be Tempted to Overspend on Your Baby
You’re so proud of your new bundle of joy that it’s only natural to want to spend money. On the other hand, spend less, and you’ll have the money to do some memorable things as a family. Newborn shoes are one example of an expense that’s not necessary. Save buying shoes until your child can walk. In the first few years of your child’s life, they’ll be growing at a rapid rate. No sooner have you bought them new clothes than they’ll grow out of them.
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Tips to Save on Spending
Do you need to buy expensive designer clothes when they are only wearing them for a few months at a time? Thrift stores, consignment shops, and used clothing stores are excellent places to go shopping for clothes for your children. It might not be such a great idea when they’re older, but in the first few years, your children aren’t going to worry that someone else has been wearing their clothes.
When it comes to feeding your baby, don’t be tempted to buy their food at the grocery store in the form of ready-made meals. Of course, the food of this kind is excellent when time is short. It’s also perfect when you find yourself away from home with nothing to give them. A much better option is to make your own. Buy and make in bulk, and you’ll always have some available wherever you are.
You can make significant savings by buying diapers in bulk or by purchasing reusable diapers. Reusable ones are much cheaper in the long run, although you will worry about an increased amount of laundry. Even with the added expense of extra laundry, reusable diapers are better for the environment, and ultimately your child’s future. It does, however, depend on parenting styles as to which one you choose. One more tip is to get the potty training out of the way as soon as possible because diapers won’t be an issue after that.
Down the Line
As your child gets older, there are going to be additional expenses you need to consider. When they start going to school, there will be extracurricular activities you may have to factor into your budget. You might have to consider getting the school to provide additional opportunities to help them learn.
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Sell or Donate When You Don’t Need Things Anymore
Being a parent means your home is full of toys before you know it. It won’t be long before you need to find a new home for those your child no longer wants or needs. Unless you’re planning to have more children, there’s no need to keep mobiles, toys, clothing, and baby equipment. Donate it to a worthy cause. Better still, sell the items on eBay or some other online store, have a garage sale, or sell them via an app.
Make Sure You’re Claiming all the Benefits
As a parent, you might be entitled to claim certain benefits. If you pay taxes, there are child-related tax benefits available when you file your tax return. These benefits include:
- Dependent – Claiming your child as a dependent is one possibility. An online interactive tax assistant is available for you to use if you want to check your eligibility.
- Child Tax Credit – You can claim this for every child who is under the age of 17. The maximum amount is $1,000 per child.
- Child and Dependent Care Credit – If you paid for the care of one or more qualifying persons, you can claim this credit. You may be able to claim if your child has an oppositional defiant disorder, suffers from mental health issues, or certain other conditions.
- Earned Income Tax Credit – If your earnings are less than $53,505, you might be entitled to claim EITC.
- Adoption Credit – An adoption tax credit covers individual adoption costs.
- Education Tax Credits – This can help with the cost of higher education or special school.
- Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction – If you’re self-employed, help is available with health insurance premiums.
This list is just a small selection of the benefits you can claim for your children. Help with childcare costs is also an option.
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Teach Your Child About Money
Parenting money tips shouldn’t just be for the parents. It’s crucial that your children also learn about the value of money and save for the future. Help your children develop excellent financial skills from an early age. It will prepare them for the financial challenges of adulthood. Good money habits to teach them include how to budget, spend, and save. Even toddlers can be helped to learn more about money.
Children can find it challenging to understand the value of money. So many parents use their debit and credit cards and shop online. It’s not very often we find ourselves using money anymore. Invisible money like this appears to be an abstract and unlimited resource. Talk to your children about money. It helps them understand that invisible money is real. They can learn that you have to go to work to earn it, and there’s a finite amount. Introduce the concept of doing chores to make extra money.
Another way to help is to reward your child’s behavior by giving them pocket money and opening a savings account. As they get older, you’ll be able to help with opening a checking account, managing their finances, and saving for college.
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Grow Vegetables at Home
It’s possible to save money by growing vegetables and fruit in your garden. Not only that, you’ll be getting healthy and helping the environment. Spend just a few dollars on seeds, plants, and supplies. You’ll be able to produce quantities of vegetables and fruit you can eat the whole year-round.
Even if your garden is small, you’ll be able to grow some excellent fruit and vegetables. You’ll be surprised how tasty produce is when you’ve grown it yourself, and it’s picked fresh from the garden.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Does it pay to be green? Yes, it does, and there are many ways you can save money when you reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Think about how you live your life and think of ways you can get by with less.
Recycle Cans and Scrap Metal
Did you realize you can get money for your recycled cans? Don’t expect it to make you rich overnight, but every little bit helps, right?
Reuse Boxes and Gift Wrap
Think of all the birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays there are in the year. Don’t throw all the trimmings in the trash.
Use Energy-Saving Appliances
Look for Energy Star appliances and invest in these. You can save a lot by replacing the appliances in your home with these energy-saving improvements.
Stop Using Disposable Items
How many times do you grab a bottle of water when you’re out? Buy a reusable water bottle. It’ll soon pay for itself. Do you use plastic shopping bags when you do your grocery shopping? Use reusable grocery bags instead. If you use paper napkins at home, you can save money by using cloth napkins.
Repair Rather Than Re-Buy
We’ve become a society that throws things in the trash when they stop working. Do you prefer to purchase new items instead? The cheaper and greener option is to try to fix things first. Cars and computers are two good examples. You can repair both at a fraction of the cost of buying new.
There’s a huge secondhand market for a variety of things. Almost everything can be bought cheaper if you purchase something someone else has used. Spend some time looking around your local thrift stores. Visit nonprofit stores such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and church basement shops. The bargains you find might surprise you.
Have You Heard of the Sharing Economy?
Have you visited your local library recently? Did you know you can borrow music CDs, audiobooks, and DVDs of popular movies and TV series? There are car-sharing programs you can use if you don’t need a car every day. It’s a concept that’s growing in popularity. Pay an annual fee to Zipcar, for example, plus $8 for every hour you use the car. It costs, on average, $6,100 a year to own an automobile. Take advantage of Zipcar for ten three-hour trips every month, and you’ll be saving almost $4,000. Another option is if you’ve got rooms that you don’t use every day. Why not look into sharing them with other people?
A bonus in addition to these tips is you’re playing an essential part in preserving the planet for future generations—in other words, your children, their children, and grandchildren.
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Managing your money more effectively is essential, no matter what age you are. Whether you’re part of a family, a single parent, a couple, or living on your own, there are many ways you can save money. Whatever you spend on your family is an investment. However, there’s no reason why such an investment should break the bank. The tips and tricks we’ve just shared should get you on the right road, but there are plenty more. Saving money isn’t easy, but you should make it one of your long-term goals.
If you’re about to start a family or are a few years down the line, we’d love to hear from you, especially if you’ve got more tips for parenting we can share. Leave a comment below, and if necessary, we’ll make some additions to our post.
What are some of your parenting money-saving tips?