Tips to Manage the Costs of Growing Kids
From the time they’re in diapers until they leave for college, managing the costs of growing kids can be challenging for any family. But with some planning, discipline and creativity, you can save money on many of the most expensive aspects of child rearing. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Reduce Child Care Costs—If you’re fortunate enough to have a stay-at-home parent in the family, your child care costs are covered. But that’s not the reality for most families, and child care costs can eat up a significant amount of the family budget. Here are some ideas that can keep costs down:
- Take advantage of employer-provided child care if available
- Participate in a child care co-op with other families
- Look into before-and-after school programs offered by the school district or parks department
- Ask family and friends to watch the kids when they’re available
- Check out day care services offered by local houses of worship
Learn to Love Hand-me-Downs—In most cases, kids outgrow their clothing long before it wears out, which means there are plenty of money-saving hand-me-downs to go around. Let friends and family with children older than yours know you’re open to receiving hand-me-downs. Plus, you’ll also want to shop thrift stores and garage sales. You’ll be surprised to find nearly-new or even new kids clothes with the tags still attached. As kids get older and their tastes become more specific, let them help you shop for clothing that matches their style. Assign a clothing budget and help them learn to stick to it with smart shopping habits.
Keep Food Costs Down—As your family grows, so will your food budget. Take advantage of the savings opportunities provided by warehouse clubs and big box stores and stack your savings by shopping for sale items and using coupons or money-saving apps. Avoid food waste by sticking to the foods you know your kids will eat. Use our Living Expenses Calculator to help you figure out your food budget.
Master the Staycation—Family vacations are fun, but often require a year or more of planning and saving. If it’s just not in the cards to take a vacation this year, it doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home. Find free or low-cost activities right in your own neighborhood. Chances are, there are lots of local attractions you take for granted but your kids have never experienced. Research reduced rates for local museums, find free local festivals and events, even go ‘camping’ right in your own backyard. When it comes to family activities, you’ll find kids don’t really care where you go or what you do, as long as you’re spending quality time together.
Prepare for School Expenses—At the beginning of each school year, set aside funds for the expenses that will come up during the year. Your child will inevitably need additional school supplies, sports team uniforms, and other fees for extracurricular activities or school trips. Set aside money ahead of time so you won’t be caught off guard when these costs come up.