Parenting definitely has a price tag. The clothes, food, diapers, strollers and daycare expenses can add up fast. And in a country with 78% of people living paycheck to paycheck, adding extra costs like these can be stressful and simply unmanageable for some. It’s no wonder there exists a growing trend of millennials having less children than previous generations.
But what if we really want to be parents? What if being a parent is what we feel called to do?
Like every big financial decision in life, there are always ways to hack away at the overall cost.
As a young parent myself (and a generally frugal dude), I’ve worked hard to reduce our family’s overall cost of living so my wife and I can raise our children and still enjoy life. Here are five hacks that have helped our family during the last 7 years of young parenthood.
Keep Gently Driving that Used Car
When a new child comes into our lives, it’s not just the home we want to upgrade…it’s also our mode of transportation. Americans are now paying around $550.00 per month for their cars, trucks and SUVs. Big life changes, like having a new child, can be a major reason for these supposed “required” transportation upgrades.
It makes sense. We want to feel prepared and keep our children safe. But before you decide to upgrade your vehicle, ask yourself a few questions:
- Can we afford the car payment that comes along with this vehicle?
- Do we really need to change out our vehicle?
- Will our current vehicle suffice for our child/children?
These questions will help you decide whether this purchase is a “need” or a “want.” Serious purchases like a new home or new car will have impacts on your life that can last decades. Make sure it’s for the right reasons.
Cook at Home
Not only can purchasing your own food be healthier for you and your growing family, but it can be a lot less expensive than dining out. When you have more mouths to feed, that’s doubly true.
Try your best to make cooking at home a family tradition. There definitely will be more time involved compared to taking advantage of quick solutions like eating at restaurants, purchasing pre-packed foods, or using delivery solutions like UberEats.com, an online food ordering and delivery website. At the end of the day, though, your wallet and your waistline will thank you.
Here are some mini-hacks that our family has used to keep our overall food-spending down:
Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
After making the switch from Kroger® to Aldi a few years ago, our family saved over $3,000 per year on our grocery bill. The savings was undeniable.
Walmart® also has some excellent prices and a great selection of healthy options for your family.
Make food in advance and freeze it for future family meals. There are a variety of meal prep options available for you and your kids to enjoy.
By purchasing in bulk, you’re saving at the grocery store and keeping the pantry full, and limiting the need and temptation to eat out.
Shop with a List
Ever notice how much random stuff ends up in your shopping cart when you’re at the grocery store? When you’re shopping with kids, mystery items show up out of the blue in that cart, as well. (Who got these Gummy Bears?!)
Save yourself some sanity and money by shopping with a list. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. You’ll be surprised at how much you save.
Buy and Sell Baby Gear on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace
The great thing about the Internet is that you’re instantly connected with thousands of other parents in your area who are looking to make parenting affordable, as well. Take advantage of technology and your new instant-Internet friends by buying your baby gear through marketplaces like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
While buying new items seems like the best route, our family has discovered some excellent used gems. We’ve purchased kid’s bikes, beds, swings, strollers, baby carriers and much more. High-priced brand name items like BOB® strollers and Baby Bjorn® can go for a steal when you’re buying used.
If you’re a savvy online shopper, you can end up reselling these items back into the online marketplace for close to what you paid for them. This way, it almost feels like renting for an extremely low price. Reusing these large items is also a great way to reduce clutter and protect the environment, as well.
One item that doesn’t make sense to buy used is your baby’s car seat. Automotive accidents render car seats unsafe and unusable. When you’re buying used, you don’t know whether the car seat has been involved in an accident or not. Stick with the swings, strollers and bikes.
Have Your Kids Wear Hand-Me-Down Clothing
You know that group of thousands of parents trying to save on baby gear? Well, they’re also trying to save on kid’s clothes, as well.
Connect with parenting groups in your area through your children’s school, online Facebook communities or Mom2Mom Sales, a website that connects mothers who wish to exchange baby/children items. You can swap clothes from kids who’ve outgrown them and get some excellent outfits in the process.
Outside of parenting groups, connect with friends and family that have kids around your child’s age. Ask them if they’d be open to offering their hand-me-down clothes to you before giving them away to charity. This simple family favor could save you tons of cash over your young child’s life. In exchange, you could do the same for their younger kids.
Take Advantage of Your Local Library
The library is an incredible place for a good book, but it has so much more to offer young parents, as well. Depending on your community, local libraries oftentimes offer free and complimentary classes, presentations and activities for kids. This is a great way to keep costs down as you’re looking for ways to entertain your little ones.
For the past three years, our family has created a Friday movie night tradition. Taking turns, one member of the family chooses a free movie from the library, and then the following week the next member gets to choose what they want to see. Outside the popcorn and snacks, this free family tradition has brought us closer, kept us from overspending at the theater and we look forward to it every week.
With a little planning, preparation and proactivity, we can definitely reduce the overall cost of parenting. After all, the kids are worth it.
How are you reducing the overall cost of parenting? Please share with us in the comments below.
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