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It’s a well-known fact that having kids is expensive. So, of course, we as parents, try and look for as many ways to save money wherever we can.
I’ve put together 18 different ways to save big with your kids.
Raising babies is a joy as well as a shock, to our lifestyles and our budgets. It costs roughly $12,000 in a baby’s first year! That’s a lot no matter what earning bracket you’re in. By adapting these savings ideas you’ll be able to cut down on that somewhat.
If you can, breastfeed your child. You’ll be able to save at least $1,400 a year.
An example of feeding a Newborn:
- About 6 feedings a day
- About a 3oz bottle each feeding
You’ll need 2 cases of Enfamil Reguline (Regular) Formula (12.4oz cans) Pack of 6 = $200 for 1 Month!
2. Breast Pump
A brand-new breast pump can cost anywhere from $20 for a single manual one to $3,500 for a dual powered one (I know, I was shocked too).
My suggestion for saving money on a breast pump is to check on different classified ads, or “Mom & Me” online groups for one offered cheaply. Then buy the replacement cup or buy some sanitizer for $6.
3. Nursing Clothes
My first suggestion for saving money on nursing clothes is to wait a while after the birth to buy them.
Firstly, you may discover that you cannot breastfeed. About 12% to 15% of women cannot successfully nurse (which is fine and you should never feel ashamed of this).
Secondly, you may already have clothes that can be used for nursing instead – extra large T-shirts and such can be used around the house. In this case, a nursing bra is really all you need.
Lastly, check out the consignment shops in your area, there’s a huge number of maternity and nursing clothes available in a variety of styles.
The average baby goes through 6 to 10 diapers a day – costing anywhere from $70 to $80 a month. Until potty training, that’s $1,890 to $2,160!
The best option for saving on diapers is going with cloth. Cloth diapers will only cost about $300 once in the beginning and you reuse them until potty training. You many get some diaper liners to cut down on messiness, which are only $8 for 100 liners.
If cloth diapers isn’t your preference, there are still ways to save on diapers:
- Use your Cash Back Apps and Coupons – Get up to $5 back on Ibotta
- Ignore the weight size on the packaging – Keep your baby in the smaller size the longest you can. Larger sizes have fewer diapers so you end up buying more.
- Compare prices “per diaper” – Don’t compare package sizes but instead calculate per diaper. You’ll be surprised how much difference there is!
- Go Generic – Don’t be “brand faithful” and try generic. They’re just as effective.
- Go for Bulk – The bigger boxes usually save you more in the long run.
5. Baby Supplies
Before the baby comes, I suggest you sign up with as many baby registries as you can. Not only will you get the supplies (and clothes) you need – some of these registries give new parents a gift package.
Amazon’s Baby Registry will give new parents a free welcome box worth $35, and if you’re a Prime member, you’ll also receive 15% off eligible items when completing the registry.
Walmart’s Baby Registry will give new parents a welcome box worth about $50 for only $5 a stage (expecting, newborn, and toddler).
6. Car Seats
Car seats can get pretty expensive as your child grows. There’s 3 stages of car seats to go through – the rear facing seat, the forward facing seat, and the booster. How long a child stays in each one depends on their height, weight, and state laws.
The different ways you can save on a car seat are:
- List it on your baby registry (all 3 sizes)
- Borrow one from friends and family whose kids have outgrown theirs
- Find coupons and discounts
- Check local non-profits for new parents – if you’re in a certain tax bracket, you may qualify for some children resources.
- Trade in your outgrown one for the next stage up.
I strongly suggest to avoid buying used car seats unless you know the source and that the child seat has not been in a car accident.
7. Baby Food
Jars of baby food can cost about $50 to $100 a month once your baby starts trying solid foods around 4 to 6 months old.
That’s a lot of money for tiny jars of food, isn’t it? You can save by:
- Breast or formula feed as long as you can – Only start solids when the baby is interested and start slow.
- Use coupons and Apps – BerryCart can save you $1.00 or more on baby and toddler food
- Make your own – It’s possible to save $25 or more by making your own baby food.
Money Saving Tip: I suggest joining Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program. You’ll save 15% on auto-deliveries of formula, diapers, groceries and everything else and get them on a regular schedule. This also saves on time having to go out and shop for them too!
Congratulations, your baby has entered the toddler stage. The average yearly cost is approximately $10,700 from ages 2 to 4 years old.
Clothes seem to be a never-ending pile to deal with, especially with a toddler, they are really messy.
The number one place I got clothes for my kids were at consignment shops. These places have an abundance of toddler clothing with deep discounts – as much as 80% off retail price.
The second place I suggest for clothes are online classifieds. Many parents don’t want to sort and price, so many are sorted by size and sold in bags. I once got a huge hefty bag of boy clothing for only $3 and found 15 outfits!
The only thing I bought brand new were shoes. This is important as growing feet need correct support and new shoes will conform to your kids’ feet properly. Toddler shoes at Walmart only cost $6.
Along with the clothes are the large piles of toys laying around.
Toys don’t need to be expensive at all, there are many ways to save money on toys:
- Consignment shops – Along with the clothes there are many toys found here. Be sure to sanitize them first.
- Parents Swap – Network with other parents to swap toys once the kids are bored with them. Everyone gets a “new” toy for their kids.
- Garage Sales – Make it more fun and bring the kids with you and let them pick out the toys themselves.
- Freecycle – An online group available in almost every city where people list things they are giving away for free. I found a play make-up vanity for my daughter for Christmas for free!
- Make it yourself – Go to appliance shops and ask for large boxes and decorate them for kids to use their imagination with.
Many toys can be crafted easily by you and them for hours of entertainment.
As parents, we know how hard it is to keep toddlers entertained.
Not to fear, there are many ways to entertain the youngsters and save money:
- Take advantage of your Library – Local libraries often have children’s story times, play rooms, and activities, as well as books, games and DVDs to borrow for free (just watch those due dates).
- Look around your Community – Many communities host different events around town and many are for free such as festivals, free admission days to attractions, concerts, and tours.
- Go to the Park – Pack a picnic and outdoor toys and head to the park. Let the kids wear themselves out on the playgrounds.
- Go to an Indoor Playground – Many cities have indoor playgrounds, or playdiums for children of different ages to play around in. The advantage of these places is that kids are not allowed to leave without the “matching” adult.
There are many free entertaining ideas to try, you just need to look around.
Food shouldn’t cost much more than the rest of the family now as they should be served the same food as everyone else.
Some ideas I can suggest to save money on food with toddlers are:
- Set a portion aside – When cooking, you may want to set a portion for them aside before adding stronger foods and spices (or foods they don’t like). This save having to cook 2 meals.
- Carry snacks – Carry plenty of small Ziploc bags of their favorite snacks with you everywhere, this cuts back on fast-food stops because they’re hungry now.
- Leave them at home – Don’t bring them with you when you grocery shop. This avoids buying snacks, candy, and other items not on your list.
- Be sneaky – Avoid fights and meltdowns trying to make your toddler eat more healthy foods. Sneak their veggies into delicious food they’ll want.
Mealtimes shouldn’t be a battlefield, let them eat, experiment, and enjoy their meals, and so will you.
This is a huge burden on a family’s budget. Daycare can cost about 20% of a family’s income!
Some ideas on daycare for your kids can be:
- Family & Friends – Offer to do errands and other things in exchange for babysitting time.
- Local Resources – Check out local resources such as the YMCA, Churches, and other programs offering preschool programs for much less than a babysitter.
- Subsidies – Check State or Federal programs for any you may qualify for.
- Employer – Some employers offer either daycare or employee support for daycare.
Doing one or a mix of the above ideas can really cut into the $1,000 a month cost of daycare.
Now that our kids are in school, it should cost less yearly right? Nope, it’s estimated to cost almost $13,000 yearly until they’re 13.
Have you read stories about parents going “all out” for their kid’s birthdays? Getting extravagant and turning the birthday into a huge, spoiled event? My daughter once got an invitation to a classmate’s birthday party with a very specific gift list and a “fee” of $50 for the cake and food costs.
Think back to your childhood, did you remember all the toys you received, or did you remember the friendships and memories more? That should be the focus of birthdays (and holidays for that matter).
Here are some ideas for saving money on birthdays and making memories:
- Outdoor events – If it’s a winter birthday, head to the park with the biggest hills and just go sledding, make snowmen and snowball fights. In the summer, head to the lake or beach, or have a pool party. Most local swim pools rent out for parties for a very reasonable price.
- Sleepovers – Host a birthday sleepover instead – a few friends, a couple of pizzas and movie rentals.
- DIY – Make the cake and favors yourself. A Bakery cake can cost upwards of $30 or more. Rent a cake pan for around $3 – $5 a day and make it yourself (or ask a friend).
Again, birthdays are for making memories – not competing with the neighbors.
14. School Supplies
With each passing year, it seems the school supply list gets longer and more expensive. It costs about $662 for elementary school and about $1,001 for middle school students!
I’m one of those parents who’ll gladly help our kids’ school, but sometimes that breaks our budget. Here are some great frugal ideas for saving on school supplies:
- Shop all year – Don’t wait until the weekend before to shop. If you see sales on any supplies, grab them and keep them stashed away until the new semester.
- Shop at Dollar stores – Who says you need to shop at Walmart or Office Depot? The dollar store has just as many supplies and much cheaper too.
- Shop on your own – This will help you get the cheaper items. A plain binder will cost less than the one with the Movie or TV show logo on it.
- Limit extracurriculars – Too often our kids want to play 2 sports, participate in band or other after-school clubs and more. Limit this to one event per semester.
- Reuse last year’s stuff – Empty out last years binders and backpacks and reuse them.
Just remember to stick to the supply list and keep it basic.
15. Own Less
This has more to do with our thinking than our kids. Kids learn more from your actions than your words. It’s hard for them to accept “no” for something they want when you’re spending frivolously on what you want.
Some life and money lessons can include:
- Get rid of the extras – That extra car, recreational vehicles and extras that you really bought for yourself. You’ll save on gas and insurance and have the money for more family-oriented activities.
- Sell your clutter – Go through your house and declutter and sell or donate your extras. Encourage your kids to do the same with their toys – they can spend the money on newer stuff.
- Buy generic – Stop buying big name-brand products and go generic. Insist your kids do the same. They do not need $250 Burberry shoes!
- Volunteer – Volunteer at an event or non-profit and involve everyone in the family. This teaches compassion, empathy and gratefulness – this is sorely lacking in today’s youth.
Kids get more enjoyment out of your presence not your presents. Be there with them whenever you can.
Welcome to the world of eyerolls and snark – teenagers. The cost of raising teenagers is now almost $14,000 a year (not counting college).
If you’ve been practicing the previous tips up until now, congrats you’re off to a good start. Even if you’re late to the game, it’s not too late to start.
16. Make them Work
Make them work for things they want. They’ll take more pride in finally owning it than they would if it was given to them.
There are many jobs teenagers can do to make money after school and on weekends. If you don’t want them working outside the home then create a list of chores and errands they can do to earn money.
They’ll work for that new bike, computer, iPod and such and eases your budget.
17. Eke out Independence
As they grow more mature, start giving them more independence and financial responsibilities.
Some ideas to start:
- School – They need to start being self-reliant for their schoolwork. Things like getting up on time, homework, projects, and grades should be their responsibility. This prepares them for college and work.
- Driving – Start giving them some or all of the financial responsibility of driving – gas, insurance, and tickets.
- Extras – Outings with friends, trips, and other events outside of family time should begin being their responsibility.
This may not look like much of a money-saver for you now, but planning it right your kids will be fiscally and socially responsible when they head to college or out on their own. I’ve seen so many stories where kids were so “controlled” by their parents that when they left for college they got in so much trouble with their new-found freedom – drinking, drugs, debts, and so on.
18. Cell Phones
It seems teenagers are never without a cellphone these days isn’t it?
When my kids were younger, an 8-year-old friend of theirs approached me and asked me to help look for her iPhone in our backyard (her third one she’d lost). Nope.
My son got his first cell phone in high school and only because he was in Marching Band and needed to call us for rides after competitions. My daughter is now 17 and doesn’t own, or want one, she’s content with her iPod that she received as a gift from her grandparents.
How to save on teenager’s cell phones:
- Get Pre-Paid – Get no contract pre-paid phones. These are much cheaper than contracts and if they run out before the month is up – they’ll need to wait.
- Go Wi-Fi – As I mentioned, my daughter just uses her iPod to chat with her friends and surf for free.
- Family Plan – You might get lucky and find a great family plan for everyone’s cell phone. Do make your kids pay or work for a portion of the cost.
- Refurbish – Don’t automatically upgrade each time theirs a new release and shop for refurbished phones. You can save over $100 on a new but refurbished phone.
The rough cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 (not counting college) is about $233,610!
That’s a mind-boggling number, but implementing these itty bitty money-saving tips can surely help you save big in the long run.
Lastly, the most valuable lesson for your children that will help save money in your family is teaching them the value of things. Teach them about finances, how to save for themselves, and get them started early.
For more ways on teaching your kids about money, check out these books and articles: