Everyone who has children knows that kids cost money. The question is, how much money do they cost? My quick answer is a lot, but there are many, many easy ways to save money with kids so that they don’t have to break you financially.
But first lets check out some numbers derived using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Annual Report, “Expenditures on Children by Families.” On Baby Center.com there is a really useful calculator that uses that report to help you determine how much each of your children will cost you from birth to 18 years old. I decided to plug in my information to see how much my children would cost me over the years. The range for both of my kids was from $231,170 per child if I sent them to a 4 year college to $152,790 if I chose not to pay for college. That’s a lot isn’t it?
Here was what they projected me to spend per child in 2012.
It’s kind of shocking when you look at it in total isn’t it? But there are ways in which you can save money easily to bring these costs down.
10 Easy Ways to Save Money With Kids
1. Discover the Library.
One of my kids is a voracious reader and the other is not. But even if your child is not interested in books which everyone knows you can get for free from the library either through your Kindle, your iPad, or the old-fashioned way of check out a paper book, there are many other options at your public library. You can check out movies and music. And many public libraries have free activities and programs for all ages from story time for toddlers and learning how to use the internet time for tweens and teens. Contact your public library for a variety of free activities.
2. Use a pay as you go mobile phone or a child-friendly service like Kajeet.
When my son asked for a cell phone I discovered through research that simply adding him to my mobile phone plan would actually cost me more money than if I had him use a pay as you go plan or Kajeet (we went with Kajeet…read about it in Cell Phones for Kids).
3. Use recyclable water bottles for activities.
My kids are heavy into outdoor activities, and every coach we’ve had has required that the kids bring water to practice. Using a re-usable water bottle is considerably cheaper than buying water by the bottle. It is also better for the environment.
4. Buy in Bulk and Pack Your Own Snack Packs.
Although the snack packs from the grocery stores are convenient, it is always cheaper to buy a giant bag of pretzels, for example, and create your own snack packs for your kids.
5. Set up a Uniform Exchange.
Whether your kids are in activities or in private schools you at some point will have to buy them some sort of uniform. And as kids do, they grow out of their uniforms. So what do you do with the old uniform? Set up a uniform exchange either through your school or activity. I know many parents would be grateful to buy or exchange uniforms to save money.
6. Sell Your Kids Clothes.
So how many times have you bought your kids new jeans and seemingly over night they have grown out of them? Too many to count? Probably so. Package up those barely used clothes and hit the resale shops. You’ll enjoy the money you make.
7. Buy Clothes From a Resale Shop
You know by now from selling your clothes to a resale shop that some of them are barely worn. Take advantage of this knowledge and hit the resale shops yourself for bargains on children’s clothing from other sellers.
8. Only let your kids ride in one of your family cars and drive that family car into the ground.
Look. Those of you with children know that children destroy the insides of your car whether it’s a brand new luxury model or a super bargain basement older car. So while they’re in the trashing your car phase invest in a family car and drive it until it just won’t go any more or whenever the kids get past the destructive stage, which ever comes first. If you want to take it one step further, and you are a two car family, designate one car the “kid car” and the other the “kid free car.” That way you have at least one car that is not trashed on the inside, perfect for date night.
9. Join the YMCA rather than using a more expensive gym membership.
In my area the YMCA has really made strides in improving their workout areas and classes. And did you know that if you have a family membership to the YMCA that you do not have to pay the activity fees for YMCA sponsored sports such as basketball, cheerleading, swimming lessons, etc.? This can add up to be quite a savings over the years, plus you as an adult have a great place to work out while your kids are enjoying swimming or whatever at the Y.
10. Avoid Buying School Supplies During the Rush.
You can always tell when school is about to re-open from the summer break. The stores create aisles of school supplies, and you can see the bleary eyed parents walking these aisles with purpose, the school supply list in one hand and a giant cart in another. Avoid shopping for school supplies this time of year. Instead wait until after school has started to get the best bargains for your children and use this year’s list to prepare for next year. (For more information about how to save money school supply shopping check out Frugal School Supply Shopping.)
10 Easy Ways to Save Money is a new series on Kellyology. What areas of spending would you like to learn about 10 easy ways to save money? Leave a comment or send me a message. I’m looking forward to seeing how you can challenge me to help you save money!
This article was written in participation of Women’s Money Week. Check out all of the other wonderful writers that are exploring this topic.
Kelly Kinkaid enjoys writing about such topics as stretching a dollar, personal finance, diet and fitness, and living a life well lived. She spends all of her spare time in her many roles including but not limited to soccer, basketball, swimmer, band, and piano mom, runner and wife. You may contact her via e-mail kellyology(at)gmail(dot)com.