We all know how expensive it can be to raise children, but often parents don’t realize the full extent of the costs. Parents now spend an average of $233,000 on each child between birth and the age of 18 (http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/09/pf/cost-of-raising-a-child-2015/index.html). It’s a lot of money, but thankfully you don’t have to spend this much if you are savvy with your money. Your child can still have an amazing childhood when you spend less money—and you don’t even have to make drastic changes. Instead, small tweaks to you and your child’s lifestyle can save you substantial amounts of money. Here are six tips to help you save money if you have children.
Use childcare vouchers if you’re entitled to them
One of the biggest costs for parents is child care, but for most parents it’s unavoidable. If you’re returning to work soon and you’re looking for childcare, speak to your employer to find out if you can get childcare vouchers. Lots of companies help new parents out with the costs of childcare, but they often don’t advertise this. Ask your employer to find out what, if anything, you’re entitled to; you could end up saving hundreds of dollars.
Buy reusable items
Disposable items like paper towels are often cheap and convenient, but they can end up costing a lot over time. Once you get into the habit of reusing and cleaning reusable items such as kitchen towels, they are no less convenient and cheaper in the long run. For example, you can buy washable towels for about the same price as paper towels, and they can last for years if you wash them regularly.
Plan meals in advance
After a long day, it can be tempting to pick up take-out food for the whole family, but this can add up and become a huge cost. Avoid the temptation by planning meals in advance; you’re less likely to buy take-out if you know exactly what you’re having for dinner, especially if it’s already in the fridge. This can also help you to save money, because you’ll plan to use up all the ingredients, and it can help your whole family to eat healthier. Its recommended that you plan your meals one week in advance so that you don’t become overwhelmed.
Buy secondhand items
Children quickly grow out of their clothes, shoes, and toys, which means parents are regularly spending money on new items. You can cut these costs by buying secondhand items instead, and young children rarely mind this. Check out thrift stores and ask friends with older children; they may have exactly what you’re looking for at a lower price that you can give to your child instead of something that’s new, shiny, and expensive. However, make sure you buy car seats and cribs new; the safety regulations often change for these items, and you want to make sure you have the safest option.
Buy entertainment for your home, instead of spending more to go out
Family time is important, but you don’t need to go to a bowling alley or a restaurant to have fun together. You can have just as much fun at home—and you’ll save some serious money. Invest in some modern board games, or a projector so that you can watch movies together. There are lots of ways to enjoy your family’s company without spending too much!
Consider using a nanny share
A nanny is another huge cost for parents with young children, but it doesn’t have to be. A nanny share looks after different children in the same area; this way, they can look after all of the children together, or they can split their time between the families. This makes it more affordable for the parents who both have to work, and it gives your child the chance to socialize with other children.