This statistic has been making the rounds, but perhaps you’ve been too busy between work, kids, and just generally being superman or woman to notice it.
According to the Federal Reserve Board’s 2016 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, 44% of all respondents could not cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense, or would rely on borrowing or selling something in order to do so. And believe it or not, that 44% is actually an improvement over previous results that go back to 2013. Still, it’s not making anybody feel any better.
If you’re part of this statistic, rest assured that there are ways to liberate yourself from this kind of burden. Saving money is power.
While the great expense of raising children can make you feel financially insecure, there are ways to work it so that you and your kids come out ahead. Even if you grow your family, there are habits to learn and stick to that can help keep you on top of your finances. Getting a grip on your budget, your finances, and your expenses can make for a happier family and a somewhat less stressful existence.
Here are a few suggestions that can help you save money while raising young children.
Establishing an Emergency Fund
Even if you can only afford to contribute a few dollars a week, an emergency fund can help you deal with the unexpected without necessarily having to resort to a credit card. These funds should be in a separate account (not your checking account) where you can access the funds easily, but not that easily (really, save it only for emergencies).
Treating Your Family to Home Cooking
Cooking in bulk, say on Sunday night, before the week begins, is a good way to have meals on hand and to eliminate the temptation for takeout and ordering in. You can save a lot of money in the process, especially if you cook with good health in mind. It’s also a great group activity for the fam.
Rethinking Your Grocery Budget
Walking through a supermarket is an exercise in resisting temptation. Instead, arrive with a pre-prepared list in hand, and stick to it. Planning meals (see our second suggestion) can get your shopping chore done faster.
You don’t have to get completely frugal—some snacks should be allowed—but if the bulk of your shopping list is planned and practical, you’ll likely see the difference in your budget, and, more importantly, in your family’s health.
Staying at Home
It may seem old-fashioned, but young children usually love old-fashioned fun: board games, charades, watching movies, reading comic books, playing music, taking walks, and telling stories can save you money on most outside activities.
You don’t have to give up the outside world completely, but cutting down could surely make a difference in your monthly outgoing expenses.
New clothes are not always a good solution for kids who quickly outgrow their old clothes. Accepting hand-me-downs, attending yard sales, and checking out online trading can be great ways to avoid the high prices of children’s clothing, and possibly the high price of your own wardrobe as well.
Sharing a Nanny
One of the most draining costs of raising young children is day care and/or a nanny. Nanny shares are actually a thing, because of the need to save money with a baby or young child while still benefiting from high-quality care. Nanny sharing can result in a cheaper monthly nanny bill, and a chance for your child to learn how to interact and get along with other children (hopefully).
Asking Your Doctor and Dentist for Free Product Samples
After your child’s checkup, it can’t hurt to ask if there are any free samples you can take with you. Whatever you get can be one less product you have to buy at the drugstore: eye drops, skin cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss. It’s a doggy bag that saves you money.
Cutting Down on Extracurricular Activities
This doesn’t make you a bad parent. Allowing your child horseback lessons or Little League baseball instead of horseback riding lessons and Little League still gives them the benefits of activity and socialization.
You child will usually let you know which activity is the most important to them. It also teaches your child one of the most difficult lessons to learn in life: we can’t always get everything we want. A great source for free activities for kids: your local library.
Reducing the Amount of Toys you Buy
This may sound cruel, but you may have noticed that your child plays with a toy for a few hours at the very most, and then abandons it (have you seen Toy Story?).
Buying fewer toys will save you money and make your child cherish the toys already there. This tip doesn’t mean that you should never buy another toy again. Check online for sales, discounts, and trades.
Signing up for Free Offers and Coupons
Online commerce wants you! They’ll do anything to attract you and keep you. This often includes getting messages to you for flash sales, discounts, and coupons you can use right from your phone. Check your favorite stores for kids. They’ll be glad to hear from you.
Other Ways to Save Money While Raising Young Children
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