Mom playing with kids

There’s no doubt about it: Kids are expensive. You’ve probably read the statistics, but just as a refresher, it will cost middle-income, married U.S. parents with two kids over $230,000 to raise a child to age 18 these days (not including the cost of college!).

That number might seem staggering, but the good news is that having kids only has to be as expensive as you want it to be. There are many different ways to manage your budget once you have children. Plus, I’ve listed three examples below of ways I’ve trimmed my own household budget to reduce our monthly costs.

Getting Creative with Buying Clothes

Before I had kids, I used to love shopping for clothes. I’d go to the mall on a Saturday and browse. I’ve always enjoyed getting a good deal and shopping sales, but once I had kids, I trimmed this line on my budget considerably.

When my twins were infants, both had reflux. They’d regularly ruin my clothes, so I stopped worrying about my clothes for a long time! Just recently, now that they are potty trained and growing up, I’ve started to add to my wardrobe again.

High-quality clothes can be expensive, though, so I shop at thrift stores and use apps on my phone. Just recently, I went to a thrift store that was having a tag sale. Every item with a green tag was $1, so I ended up getting seven sweaters for $7 to help me brave the Michigan winter.

Some of the apps I like to use for secondhand finds are Poshmark and Mercari. For kids’ clothes, I love Kidizen. All of these have great name brands at affordable prices. My most recent purchase for myself was a pair of Kate Spade flats that a bride only wore once in her wedding. They were over 80% off of the retail price.

Kids grow so fast, so it’s just not worth it to buy brand-new or expensive clothes for them. Similarly, because you incur so many costs once you have kids, it’s not really worth it to buy expensive clothes for yourself either. This is an easy budget category to trim, and if you hadn’t already been thrift shopping, it can even be a fun change, too.

Redefining Date Night

I know; I know. How dare I even suggest you stop going out on dates? I’ll prepare myself for the onslaught of hate mail, but until then, hear me out.

When you have kids, every time you want to go out on a date, go ahead and double the cost. Babysitters can be incredibly expensive.

So, instead, why not try to get creative and have date night at home? There are countless articles with ideas on how to do this. Some ideas include having a picnic in your living room or having a Nerf gun fight when you spouse walks in the door.

If you’re a single parent, replace date night with a friends night out. Again, I know you need time away from your kids in order to rest, recharge and have some time with your friends. However, why not invite your friends over to your house? While your kids are sleeping, open up a bottle of wine and enjoy chatting with your friends.

If you’re on a tight budget, date night is an obvious place to trim. I’m not saying to eliminate it altogether or to stop trying to spend time with those you love most: I’m suggesting to get more creative to save on your monthly budget costs.

Ordering Out

Every month, without fail, I go over my family food budget. This is usually because, in a moment of overwhelming exhaustion, I succumb to ordering a pizza for my family. I know this is a weakness of mine. I don’t especially like to cook, so it’s an area of my life I’m trying to improve.

The reason is that ordering dinner is expensive. You’re paying for the luxury of someone else cooking your meal. Don’t get me wrong; to a busy mom, sometimes this is necessary (and glorious).

However, this is definitely a place you can trim your budget. Notice I don’t say to eliminate ordering dinner because there might be a time when you need an extra boost.

Something you might consider is ordering in once or twice a month but not going out to eat at a restaurant at all. We all know taking young kids to a restaurant is hit or miss anyway, and when compared to eating at home, eating at a restaurant is much more expensive. So, why spend your hard-earned money at a restaurant when your kids might not behave at the dinner table?

Overall, to trim this part of your budget, remember that a little bit of meal planning and careful grocery shopping can go a long way in freeing up $100 or more a month from your budget. Some of my go-to, inexpensive favorite meals are spaghetti, red beans and rice, and split pea soup. These are meals that can last several days and are very cheap (and delicious)!

Ultimately, by trimming some of the budget categories mentioned above, you can absolutely free up some of your hard-earned money every month. These examples are simple changes that, when implemented, can truly improve your financial life and, by extension, your family life, too.

What are some of the ways that you’ve saved money after having kids? Do you have any additional financial tips for families other than the ones mentioned above?

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