With the economy in the tank and the cost of raising a child to age 18 standing at over $200,000 according the latest government studies, along the way, we’ve been seeking out each and every opportunity to cut costs in a reasonable manner while still enjoying a lifestyle we enjoy. We have two boys and a girl all 6 and under, so the spending curve has yet to pick up as they start eating more, begging for designer clothes and joining more activities, but rearing even young children is nothing to sneeze at. So, here are some routine tactics we employ to keep expenses down:
- Make Friends with Parents of Older Children – As tacky as this may sound, the reality is that these are “friends with benefits” when you’re in a parenting situation. We have a few friends who have a child our kid’s age but also older siblings. My wife is especially keen on dressing our 1 year old daughter nicely (not that the boys are slobs, but they don’t have pink shoes that they wear just once) and you wouldn’t believe the girls’ clothing we get from friends. These are clothes that have either never been worn or you can’t tell they’ve ever been worn. I guess I should have specified, “parents with good taste that waste a ton of money on their kids’ clothes”. So, at this stage, between gifts for birthdays and these clothes our friends pass on, the boys have tons of play clothes and our daughter is the best dressed kid on the block virtually for free!
- Buy on Clearance – As cliche as it might sound, buying on clearance is completely under-appreciated in today’s society. There are a lot of great stores both local and online where you can shop at clearance prices. If you’re like me and have a big family, stores and sites like Walmart, Overstock, Ebay, Lowe’s and BJ’s are great places to buy items in bulk at wholesale prices. For my family’s needs, I’ve been popping into the local Lowe’s each weekend for their clearance sales and picked up an incredible new $2800 stainless fridge for a thousand bucks! It had a dent on the side which you can’t even see since it’s up against our wood panel cabinetry. Many of the kids’ clothing stores are constantly offering coupons and clearance sales and frankly, I can’t imagine who ever pays full price for stuff there, but presumably, there are people who do. I’ve pretty much told my wife “No full price shopping…every” – it’s a giant scam and waiting for these coupons and such helps prevent impulse spending as well as it turns into targeted spending only on items we needed and planned on.
- Family Activities on the Cheap – There are myriad ways families can blow thousands of dollars on family activities ranging from little gym and amusement parks to hobbies and expensive toys for the kids. On weekends especially, the family starts to get a bit ancy and they want to do something different since we’re all together. We like to take advantage of free and cheap day trips. There are literally hundreds of opportunities within driving distance of your house – I guarantee it! We spend lots of time in parks, especially finding new ones and exploring. We might go apple or peach picking for a day and pay about the same we’d pay in bulk in a store for food we needed anyway, but the kids love it. There are some great, massive playgrounds around that the kids love. We go fishing, hiking, camping and even just roast marshmallows in the back yard. There are tons of ways to break up the monotony of a weekend with no plans without blowing a ton of dough.
These are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are thousands of ways to save costs on raising kids without living like a pauper. If you are in the UK this financial guide for new parents may come in handy.
What Are Some of Your Favorite Tips?