Let’s be honest. Kids are not cheap, but how much do they cost exactly is up for debate. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child born in 2015 was about $233,610. That’s not including the cost of college. This assumes that the child was born to a middle-income family. However, in 2021, when adjusted for inflation, this number jumps to about $267,233.
For many parents, the idea of paying that much to raise a child is mind-boggling and challenging. These numbers obviously don’t reflect family experiences. Some spend less, some spend more. If you live in a city, the cost of living is substantially higher too. However, raising a family doesn’t have to be expensive. In my post today, I want to talk about parenting on a budget and some money-saving strategies that we can adopt while raising kids.
It is hard to keep track of all the living expenses. I attempted to keep a spreadsheet of where my money went, but it became difficult to keep track especially with all the little expenses that are involved in raising kids. Now, I just try to stay on budget and reduce our spending as a family instead of keeping track of every little single thing.
The pandemic has not made things any easier for families either. The cost of everything is substantially higher now. There is even more reason for families to start budgeting now to save for times of uncertainty. Whatever your reasons are, here are some strategies and ways to save money while raising a family and manage your family budget.
1. Buy in bulk
Save money by buying in bulk if it’s cheaper and if they are things that you will use eventually and have longer expiration dates. Our family has an extra freezer in the garage and additional pantry space to store the additional items. If you don’t have the space, you can do still do this for things like toilet paper, shampoo and soap.
2. Cut back on unnecessary expenses
or make your own coffee at home. My husband is a big coffee person. He needs his cup of coffee everyday to kick-off his day. Instead of cutting out coffee since it’s a vital dad fuel, he makes his own coffee everyday and take it with him. Every dollar saved goes a long way. If you save $1.50 a day on coffee, that’s about $548 a year, and about $2700 over 5 years!
3. Use coupons or cash back apps to save money on groceries
Food costs are a big portion of a family budget. Growing kids eat like crazy! People often think that you have to be an extreme couponer to save at the grocery store, but that’s just a myth. With some organization, you can save a lot of money on groceries. I usually check the food items that we have at home before heading to the store. Aside from taking advantage of weekly grocery sales, I use printable paper coupons, and stack them with cash back apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta. Since joining these apps a few years ago, I have cashed out close to $800 in rewards. That’s just another way to save!
4. Meal prep
For busy moms like me, this is a life savior! This requires a bit of forward planning, but can save a fortune. I have a weekly meal plan that I usually stick to, and make a list of ingredients that I will need to buy to avoid wastage. Do not veer from your list, and start browsing other things. With meal prep, I also cook a little extra and freeze them. When life gets in the way, just pop these freezer meals in the oven or microwave, and whip up a family meal in a jiffy!
5. Sign up for credit card deals and earn points
A word of caution. Not many people can do this, but if you have a decent credit score and is disciplined about paying off debts, this can be a really good way to earn sign up bonuses and points which can be converted to airline tickets. I have flown my entire family back to Hawaii without a dime (except for taxes) just based on credit card points. What a great way to save money for family vacations!
6. Set limits on family days
These outings can cost a small fortune if not budgeted correctly. A trip to the aquarium can easily cost $100 for a family of four. Instead of going a regular weekend, we wait for promotions like buy 1 adult, get 1 child free if you go on a weekday instead. If your kids are like mine and love the zoo, why not sign up for the membership which allows you unlimited visits? Alternatively, you can have so much fun for free at the park, at the beach, free museums or on a walk.
7. Budget for the occasion
Be forward-looking and shop for birthday or Christmas gifts when they go on sale instead of leaving it to the last minute to avoid overspending. We also buy off-season items when they go on sale in preparation for the next season. Buy a size up for kids clothes during the sale season.
8. Purchase second hand kid items
I am a big second hand queen when it comes to children toys, books and clothes. They outgrow them so quickly after all. My eldest only wore her 3-year old clothes for 3 months and had a growth spurt which made everything tight on her. Over the years, I found some great deals for children items on Facebook Marketplace, Kidizen, Thred Up. Give a try! You can even sell back some things that your kids have outgrown.
9. Have a yearly clean-out
I am a big fan of this. Every year, I go through items that we no longer and sell them if I can for some extra cash.
10. Make bigger mortgage payments if you own a home and if you can afford it
If you’re a homeowner, you should know by now that you are paying more in interest upfront. If your budget allows it, pay more toward the principal to cut down on tens of thousands of interest. Be sure to check if your mortgage allows for prepayment before doing so. Alternatively, refinance your mortgage when the rates are lower. You will thank yourself in the future if you’re able to pay your mortgage quicker.
Kids don’t have to be expensive for parents on a budget. Sit down with your partner or spouse to evaluate your finances, and start gaining control of your money today. Ultimately, parenting does not need to costly, but priceless.
If you’re looking for other ways to survive as inflation takes it toll on everyone, check out this great post here with 3 ways to make ends meet.
Want to find out how you can save your college’s education. Check out my post on some ways you can budget for your child’s education.
Other related post: How To Manage Family Finances Even If You’re Not A Numbers Person