Parenting can be pretty damn expensive. Even before our first child was born, the costs started to pile up. We needed to get a car seat, a crib, a breast pump, diapers, bottles, blankets, clothes, a monitor, a stroller, nursing bras, and the list went on. Yes we received some items as gifts or hand me downs, and bought things used, but it still felt like a big hit to the bank account.
Then, when the kids started growing, we found that we were never finished buying stuff. Children, even more than your home, can be a serious money pit if you let them. There are things you can’t do without, but it doesn’t have to completely break you financially. You need to try to make your dollars last at least until your child has gotten a university degree, so that they can get good jobs and turn around and support you in your impending bankruptcy.
Here are some ways you can parent on the cheap during the years you are legally required to support your children.
Clothing. Kids go through clothes ridiculously fast. If you are buying mostly new clothes for your young children, you are wasting your money and I kind of judge for that! Get used clothes. Make friends with people who have slightly older children than you. Rummage through the lost and found at school and daycare. Remember, most pants are generic enough that little sister can wear big brother’s old pants (assuming they haven’t been destroyed) and vice versa.
Toys. Again with the new toy purchases. What are you people thinking? If you don’t get all hung up on new stuff, neither will your kids. Getting used toys saves money and saves the environment. Also, your kids don’t need as many toys as you think they need (or as they think they need). Most kids are just as happy playing with a cardboard box, a pile of rocks, and some sidewalk chalk. Sometimes buying toys is just plain stupid.
Food. Kids eat a lot. You can’t stop feeding them and I’m not sure used food is an option. However, food waste is hugely aggravating. Giving smaller portions at the start of the meal and letting them ask for more means you’ll probably throw out less at the end of the meal.
Birthday Parties. I feel like I’ve already had my say about B-day Parties here. So all I’ll add here is, rein it in folks! Your 2 year old does not need a limo ride to their private party with the Doodlebops.
Outings. Most of the time you can get away with nearly free stuff like going to the playground or a park, bike rides, visiting the empty lot down the street or the garbage dump, construction sites, the pet store (no purchasing pets though), or go play in the toy section at Value Village. Don’t waste your pesos on big outings, you can save those for special events (an alternative to a costly birthday party perhaps).
Once your kids are old enough to contribute they can help generate family funding by:
- collecting bottles and cans from your neighbors recycling bins to return for change,
- filling out contest entry forms for free stuff,
- picking wild berries to sell along with lemonade at the end of your driveway (lemonade by itself isn’t much of a draw these days, people expect added value), or
- searching for lost pets to return for rewards,
- digging for loose change in couch cushions at cafes and lounges.
Parenting doesn’t have to break the bank, these ideas may literally save you pennies.
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