15 Ways to Raise Kids on a Budget
We can all agree that raising children is expensive! Clothes, toys, sports, music, insurance, hobbies, school activities, driving lessons, dances, and food (the cost of food alone can break those of us with hollow legged kids) and the list goes on.
Whether you are raising your biological children or someone else’s children the cost reaches out to the heavens. Most of us don’t have the finances of Trump, Gates, Buffet or Winfrey, but we still want to provide everything possible for our children.
So how do we do that? For starters, be realistic. You should not have to work three jobs so your child can have the newest Xbox or PlayStation or a new car- that you pay for. You will be doing your children and you a huge favor by not caving into their every desire. Besides, it’s more fun to be around children who appreciate their possessions than their counterparts with their entitled attitudes.
I know a woman who is very kind and gentle. She had her two children much later in life and because of that (that’s her excuse) she wanted to provide everything for her children that they asked for. Big mistake. As her kids got older they asked for more expensive toys and clothes. Their activities cost more money. What did she do? She got a second job. She was wearing herself out physically. After working an eight hour day at her primary job, she changed her clothes and went to work at another job! All so she could supply her children with their wants. And after all that, the kids weren’t even appreciative, not to mention she was rarely even home to see them. Or maybe that was her secret plan all along, hmmm.
The reason I share that story with you is it offers a good example of realism and wants vs needs.
You can take care of your children’s needs and be realistic with the wants all the while balancing family and work.
Here are 15 ways to budget (spend your money wisely) and still provide your children a happy life:
- Eat meals at home. Preparing food at home will save you money, be healthier, and will allow for time to discuss the day (as opposed to having to yell over other people’s voices.)
- Utilize thrift stores. Most cities have basic thrift stores like Salvation Army, but you may also find specialty stores just for kids or sporting goods or furniture. You’ll find items in like new (sometimes brand new) condition and you’ll pay a fraction of the cost of new.
- Take advantage of free. Play at the park, ride bikes, go hiking, fishing, boating, rafting, fly kites, to name a few activities, and in the process, you will create memories to last a lifetime.
- Swap. Trade babysitting time with friends so you can still have grown up time without the added expense.
- Cut back on the extracurricular activities your kids engage in. Try keeping it to a more fun, less stringent schedule, such as twice a year instead of constant back to back activities. You will all be rewarded with less stress from a harried schedule, saving money (sports are expensive), while still having the benefits of activities.
- Rent movies instead of going to the theater. Or maybe your town has a free movie in the park night during the summer. While you’re at it, look into your local theaters, maybe they offer discount days.
- Enjoy free entertainment. Does your town host a concert in the park night, a farmers market, free swimming in the city pool?
- Groceries. Shop smart, use coupons, buy bulk, and plan your meals so no food goes unused. A survey by the American Chemistry Council reported that the average household throws out $640 worth of food each year. That’s enough to wreak havoc on anyone’s budget.
- Shop ahead of time. If a store is having a great sale on clothing items such as socks, underwear, pjs, you get the idea – stock up. You can buy ahead for your kids and save money.
- Don’t throw anything away. Save outgrown clothing, shoes, games, books etc. and have a yard sale. If you use plastic bottles or cans, you can recycle them for money; all though, in the long run, you’d save more by purchasing reusable bottles.
- No excessive gifts. When Christmas and birthdays come around forego tons of gifts and keep it simple. First of all, the most played with gift is always a box and second, a gift that builds memories will last forever (as in a trip to somewhere fun, like the zoo, or a trampoline park etc.) whereas, toys break or get lost. Create a gift giving budget, be realistic, and stick to it.
- Learn to conserve. Teach your kids to conserve water and electricity; minimize toilet paper and paper towel usage. You can invest in cloth napkins and kitchen towels to save money too.
- Your local library. Take advantage of the free offerings at your local library, such as movie rentals, cd’s, books of course, and many have children’s activities during the summer. All free.
- Take advantage of rewards points. Most stores nowadays offer a free membership program where the members are rewarded. From grocery stores to gas stations to bank cards, they all offer rewards. I know someone who cashed in her rewards points from her bank card and had enough to buy a new Ipad. Not too shabby. As long as you pay off the card every month so you don’t accrue interest, it can be a smart way to cash in on rewards.
- Cancel your cable. This alone will save you hundreds every year plus it may improve your health. Instead of sitting on your bums, get up and play. If you’re thinking you need the kids distracted for a while, have them read a book or put in a dvd. Without cable, you’ll find there are many other ways to occupy your time, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t cancel cable years ago.
There you have it, 15 ways to raise kids on a budget. What strategies do you use to save money?