We were so thrilled when we found out my wife was pregnant. We immediately started getting ready for our new bundle of joy. We spent money on baby clothes, baby proofing, looking into daycare, a family friendly car, etc…
In retrospect, there were a lot of things that we could have done to be more efficient and financially savvy about how we prepared for our son. Now that he’s turning three, I can reflect back on some of the things that we really didn’t need and how we could have saved money and pass on some advice about how you can save money raising your kids as well.
Here are 10 ways you can also save money raising your kids:
1. Accept the hand me downs if you can
We had a lot of friends and family that had older babies. Many offered hand me downs. Being our first baby, my wife was extra careful about wanting newer clothes. We accepted some clothes, but did take as much hand me downs as we should have. In retrospect, babies grow fast! Literally, there were clothes that he would wear once and outgrow as a new born. It’s just not worth it to spend a premium on clothes that he would only wear once. (if you’re planning for more, you can save your first child’s old clothes.)
2. Don’t upgrade your car (yet)
At some point, you’ll look into getting a family car. That minivan or SUV so you can transport the whole family around. We bought an SUV actually, when we were trying to get pregnant just to plan ahead. In retrospect, it was unnecessary to get a big car so soon. I found that the baby fit fine in our smaller honda accord anyways. The overall affect of the SUV is that it costs more to maintain. Gas is more expensive and mechanics costs are a bit more as well. Eventually, if you have a big tribe, an SUV or Minivan might be prudent, but in the beginning it’s not that necessary. In retrospect, holding off on a buying big car is probably one of the best ways to save money when preparing to raise your kids.
3. Plan for School
Being a dual income family, we had to put our child into daycare/school early on. But you really have to plan ahead. Putting a baby in school is expensive! I would say that daycare alone cost the equivalent of a good college tuition when our boy first started. Don’t get me wrong, our son really does get a huge benefit in socialization and learning by going to school. He loves school and they really help guide us as parents as well. But when he’s old enough to go to public school, we’ll transition him over to public school. Of course, making sure you’re in a good district for public school takes some planning ahead as well…
4. No need to move
Many parents look into moving right away. They either want to go to a child friendlier neighborhood or move to a better school district. My wife and I did the same thing. However, there’s no need to rush that decision. The reality is that you have a few years to look around before being in a better school district will make any difference for your child.
5. Shop for Baby Supplies Online
You’d be surprised at the bargains you can find for baby supplies online. Everything from diapers to baby wipes are available online. Often they are quite a bit cheaper than buying them in the store. Also, a great tip I discovered was to get your recurring supplies from Amazon. If you can plan ahead, Amazon gives an extra 15% off when you set up recurring purchases. So, if you know that you use up baby wipes at a pace of once a month, you can set up a recurring delivery and save an additional 15% off the purchase price. If you are able to time things right, you can save quite a bit of money. Most people may not realize that using Amazon’s recurring delivery program can really help you save money raising your kids.
6. Vinegar is environmentally safe and multi-purpose!
When you find out you’re going to have a baby, many people become much more conscious about the chemicals products they keep and use around the house. For example, we have ants that invade our house around the summer time. In the past, we might have used ant poison and sprays to keep them away. But I found that plain white vinegar will do the same trick. It’s much cheaper as well as safer for the baby. Vinegar can be used for a ton of things: weedkiller, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, bug spray, etc… Especially if you are looking into organic solutions for your bundle of joy. Vinegar is a cheap and safe way to go.
7. Start Saving Early
It gets harder to save after you have a child. Start planning ahead by looking into things like 529 educational accounts and savings accounts for your child. Once you figure that out, set your budget and an automatic monthly transfer to their account. I did that early on and am really glad I did. If I had to plan and set up those things now, it would be much harder.
8. Dual income or Stay at Home?
This is a huge debate. But you really have to plan ahead. Either way there are going to be costs. If you were originally dual income and one parent opts to stay at home with the baby, you will lose that portion of the income. On the other hand, if you both continue to work, there will be the additional expense of day care. My wife and I opted to continue with our dual income, but a lot of decision making and planning went into the process. The philosophical aspects aside. Think about the benefits that your employer provides. Do you get health benefits? A 401k? A pension? Child care educational accounts? Don’t just simply balance your take home pay against the cost of day care. If you get a pension, it could be worth millions if you continue working.
9. Ask for Help
If you have friends or family living nearby, don’t be afraid to ask for help. As long as you’re not excessive about it, no one will feel put out to help you with the baby for a few hours. Grandma and Grandpa often will enjoy spending time with the baby once in a while and you can get a short reprieve while you’re at it. Rasing a baby really does take an entire village.
10. Resist the Marketers!
We fell into the trap of getting all the shiny new nicknacks for our son. Marketers are smart. They love to tell you how educational toys are. I can’t tell you how many toys my boy’s played with once or twice and then set down, never to be picked up again. If you can get hand me down toys, those work just as well and are just as educational as the new toys. Also, I found that now that he’s a bit older, he loves the public library. And they have tons of books for kids. You can even find a great selection of baby and toddler books. So, stick to spoiling your child with love. They’ll notice that a lot more than one of those new-fangled educational toys.
Raising a baby can be expensive! But with some strategy and planning ahead, you can still save money and keep shooting for all your financial goals.