Even if you do your best to be frugal and find deals, the cost of raising children isn’t cheap. Infants need special equipment, such as car seats, strollers and carriers. Older children come with education costs. The US government’s most recent study on the cost to raise a child brings the number in at $233,610 from birth through age 17 for a two-income family. Housing makes up about 29% of the cost of childrearing, followed by food at 18%.
Some families wait to have children because of the added expense, but there are a number of ways to cut the costs of raising children, whether you are just thinking about starting a family or you already have one in place.
Save on housing. You’ve probably heard all about the tiny house movement. While you don’t technically have to live in a tiny house, you can likely declutter and get by in a smaller home; a baby doesn’t really need a lot of extra room. While a big backyard is great when you’re raising kids, you can put off buying a house with a bigger yard for a few years, or you can take your children to a nearby park for outdoor time. If you plan to homeschool or invest in private education, the school district becomes less important. You can save money by buying in a less desirable school district. In a study of homebuyers, about 25% of real estate agents listed the school district as one of the most critical factors in buying a home.
Reduce food costs. Food is the second-biggest expense for most families. There are many ways to reduce your food costs, starting with eating out less and cooking at home more. Shop loss-leaders at stores and stock up when items you use most often are on sale. You can also use coupons and buy baby foods and formula when it’s on sale. Don’t forget to use rebate apps such as Ibotta or Saving Star to get cash back for things you already purchase. Breastfeeding can save a lot of money during the first year of your child’s life, so consider nursing if possible.
Get the most out of child care. Child care isn’t really an area where you want to bargain hunt. However, you can make sure you get the most benefit possible out of your day care costs. For example, hiring an au pair allows you to bring someone from another culture into your home and teach your child about the world. Au pairs receive a weekly stipend of about $200, which is less than the price of a nanny or even day care. One way you can save money is by reducing the number of hours you need an au pair. For example, if you have the ability to work from home a couple of days a week, you may only need help the other three days.
Buy secondhand. There are many things you can buy secondhand for your child, such as gently used clothing, toys and furniture. Be very cautious with your car seat. If it’s previously been in an automobile accident, it needs replacing. When it comes to car safety, it’s best to buy new unless you are 100% certain the car seat has never been involved in a wreck. You can even buy items such as swing sets used and save money.
Seek free activities. One perk of having small children is that many things are free. Take advantage of “kids eat free” nights at local restaurants. If you want to visit a museum, find one where children under a certain age are free. Even travel costs can be reduced by taking advantage of free airfare and admissions.
Have more kids. It sounds crazy to add more kids if you’re already on a budget, but that previously-cited government study found that expenses for a one-child family were 27% more than a two-child family. You’ll already have many of the items you need for a second child and can also buy in bulk and at reduced rates. However, each child still costs well over $100,000 to raise, so factor that into your decision.
The cost of raising a child adds up quickly. In addition to the money-saving tips above, you should also start a college fund to help pay for those expenses once the child is grown. Look for bargains, find frugal activities the entire family enjoys and save money for the things that matter most to you.
Photo Credit: SOURCE Hydration, Packs & Sandals