While raising a family isn’t for everyone, having children can be one of life’s most fulfilling experiences. But caring for kids can be a very expensive endeavor that doesn’t stop once they outgrow diapers. If you’re going to provide for and take care of your growing family, you’re going to have to consistently adapt your lifestyle and budget, no matter what your financial status. Here are some tips to help you meet your family’s needs without breaking the bank.
Appreciate the Value of Hand-Me-Downs
Between food stains, messy arts and crafts, roughhousing, and playing outside, kids are tough on clothes. They also outgrow them at a rapid pace the first several years of life. While there’s nothing wrong with buying new for special occasions, it may be prudent for you to start finding gently used everyday clothes for your younger children. Otherwise, you’ll easily be spending hundreds of dollars with every changing season for several years. Find a close friend or relative with similar-aged kids and swap clothes as your children outgrow their current sizes. You’ll probably find that you don’t mind letting your kids sleep and play in something that’s a little worn or faded to save some serious cash.
Rethink Your Definition of a Family-Friendly Vehicle
Many people think they need to swap their sedan for an SUV or minivan the moment they find out they’re expecting. The truth is, you can probably make your smaller car work with kids for a lot longer than you think. As long as everyone fits safely, there’s no need to buy something different. If space is an actual problem, upgrade affordably with a used car instead of buying something brand new. Purchasing a vehicle as little as one-year-old can make a big difference in what you’ll pay and could save you thousands. Remember: anything different is still new to you!
Be a Smart Shopper
Growing children eat a lot. Once you no longer need to buy formula and baby food, you’ll find yourself quickly making up the difference in more groceries. While buying food can be one of the easiest ways to overspend, it’s also one of the easiest ways to save with some thought and effort. Do some research to find out which stores actually offer the best prices on the foods your family eats most. It may mean shopping at more than one store, but it can save you a lot of money throughout the month. It’s also a good idea to stick to the mantra of “once it’s gone, it’s gone.” Don’t make an extra shopping trip in the middle of the week because you’re out of bread already. Go low-carb or substitute with the crackers and tortillas in your pantry until it’s time for your weekly shopping trip.
Plan Outings Wisely
Going out to a movie, museum, or meal is expensive with kids, no matter where you decide to go. Whether you’re going somewhere nice for a special occasion or grabbing something on the way home to keep things easy, make sure you have extra funds for these outings. Set aside money in your budget and stick to a routine to keep extra spending from sneaking up on you. Limit fast food meals to once every other week and restaurant meals to once a month. Find free activities to pass the time during summer days and weekends. If you live near a great zoo or museum, consider a membership to save on admission tickets while giving your family the option to visit any time.
Whether you’re living comfortably with your earnings or striving to make each penny count, it’s a good idea for every family to make smart choices and save money. You may even be able to tuck away those extra funds and use them to pay bills, build up savings, or go on a special family vacation.