Children are expensive. Sure, they are worth every penny, but that’s still a lot of pennies you’re spending to raise your child well. Saving money is a goal for almost every parent. We are always finding ways to cut costs without losing out on valuable childhood experiences or sacrificing health or wellness. Looking for some new ideas of how to save money while raising a child? Here are a few to consider.
Kids Eat Free
There are many ways you can save money when it comes to food. You can always buy in bulk and then freeze up the extra to use down the road. You can use coupons and plan on how to save money in the grocery store. But you can also save quite a bit of money without having to cook every single meal for your child. You simply need to know the restaurants in your area.
If you were a master chef before having children, rolling a new person into your meal planning and grocery budget isn’t much of a hardship. But if you were like the many households who enjoy meals in or from restaurants, kids can create a bit bump in spending. But not if you’re eating where kids eat free!
Many restaurants offer promotional dining where kids get a free meal when adults purchase one. If you are a family of three or just a parent and child, this can add up to big savings. Order a single adult meal large enough to share and the kid’s meal comes free. The hardest part about this trick is simply finding restaurants who offer the special. Local parenting groups are excellent sources of intel on this, and once you find your favorites, they can likely expect to see you for dine-in or take-out every week!
Second-hand Clothing Does Just Fine
Kids grow outrageously fast, and often they grow so fast they only wear certain items of clothing a handful of times before it’s outgrown. This isn’t just a problem for your household, it happens in almost every household, especially on items that aren’t your typical daily wear.
When it comes to buying new gear, start your search in second-hand and consignment shops. Consignment often examines clothing before accepting it, so it’s a bit higher quality than donation centers, but those can be a good choice as well. Another avenue for second-hand, often free, clothing is parenting groups on social media. Parents pass on gently used clothing to others simply to get it out of the house. When your child outgrows the items, simply pass them on to the next family.
Try Church or Community-Based Summer Programs
You can spend an arm and a leg signing your child up for special summer programs. These are often more expensive than daycare, even if they are just a few hours per day. If you want your children to get a bit of enrichment over the summer but don’t have a huge budget, look to churches and community centers in your area.
Most of the staff at these programs are volunteers, so the program has minimal costs for families. If you volunteer yourself, your child may be able to attend without any cost at all. Summer programs include sports camps, Bible school programs, arts and crafts, nature programs and more. This tip also extends to cover expensive summer camps. If your child wants to try a summer camp, try going to a faith-based camp or a youth scouting camp before paying big bucks for a private summer camp experience.
Save Cash for a Family Goal
We are teaching our children important lessons from the time they are born. This includes lessons that reach far beyond ABCs and number basics. Complex concepts like planning ahead and budgeting are something we learn first from our families, and what better way to help your children learn than by making the budgeting process a visual, family affair?
Decide on a goal together as a family. Perhaps you want to take a big trip or just spend a day at the water park. Whatever it is, make it something you all will enjoy. Then get a glass jar or a series of envelopes. Every week stuff a bit of cash into the jar or envelope. You can also save change, extra bills, or any other cash you find lying around.
Periodically have your child help you count the money and see how far you’ve come on your goal. When you reach the goal, celebrate with the big event, and celebrate your how your whole family worked to save for the goal.
This tip can also help you save money as a whole family. When your child begs for a new toy or asks for money in an online game, you can simply remind him or her of the goal and how spending money now would delay the big goal that much further. Many life lessons and money-saving opportunities come from simply saving a bit now for a big goal then.
Set Up a Full Cash Budget
In addition to a cash goal to help teach delayed gratification, savings, and needs versus wants, you can save money with children by using a cash-based system. Kids don’t understand or see how credit cards are tied to money. But they understand cash very quickly. Take out your weekly budget in cash. Let your child help you arrange the grocery money, bill money, eating out money, and entertainment money into various labeled envelopes.
Then, as you pay for things during the week, let them count the money out of the envelope and see how quickly it can go! When you run out of cash in the entertainment envelope, you and your child will just have to wait until next week for the latest media or new movie rental.