You can find information on thrifty tips and spending traps in Part 1 of this post.
Are you thinking about having a baby or adopting? Congratulations! Having children is the most monumental step you can take in your life. Their love is irreplaceable and your life is going to become beautiful in a way you never imagined.
But before you get caught up in the bubbly excitement and start saving nursery ideas on Pinterest, let's talk about the financial impact a child can have on your budget. I know that doesn't sound like much fun but it's always a good idea to be prepared where money is concerned.
We've already gone through the first 5 ways your budget will be affected so let's finish off the rest in this post.
6. Gear & Necessities
- This may sound confusing but to save money in the long run, you should splurge on baby gear that really counts. Never skimp on safety items like car seats just to save a few dollars. We tried an affordable option and it was a waste of time and money.
- Ask your mom friends if they'd be interested in having a baby stuff swap.
- Browse your local classifieds, consignment sales, and thrift stores for items that have a short useful life, such as swings, bouncers, etc. There's no rule that says everything should be purchased brand new.
- Expensive swings and fancy bath tubs are nice luxuries to have but if you need to cut corners, start there. My friend purchased the $270 mamaRoo swing brand new and only used it 3 TIMES before her son grew out of it. What a waste!
- Resist the temptation to purchase any upgraded version of a base model. In most cases, you won't miss the special features when you can have extra money left in the bank.
Education is one of the best investments you can make in your child's upbringing. But don't worry if you're on a budget. There are still many ways you can save without sacrificing the quality of their schooling.
- Keep an eye out for special Back to School sales. A lot of retailers will mark down some school supplies to $0.50 or even $0.25.
- Take advantage of Sales Tax Holidays (tax-free days) when purchasing school supplies. Just remember to arrive early so you can beat the crowds!
- Begin planning early if you're worried about saving enough money to cover pricey tuition. Plans like a 529 College Savings Plan, Prepaid Tuition Plans, or a Roth IRA are all great options to explore for college expenses. You should also look into a tax-deferred Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) as it can be used for higher education and primary and secondary education costs.
- Save money on college textbooks by renting them or purchasing used copies. I'm a personal fan of CampusBookRentals. (*This is not sponsored in any way. I just really loved using this company!)
- Resist the temptation to buy brand new items every single year. If your child has an old binder that's still in good condition, re-use it and spend the money elsewhere. Why replace something if it's not broken?
Costs add up quickly when you add a new travel buddy to the group. As children get older they eat more and take up more space, adding to your food, hotel, and transportation costs.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Save Money on a Road Trip
- The easiest way to save money on food is to bring it yourself. Pack a cooler full of sandwiches, nuts, fruit, and other snacks to get yourself started.
- If you're flying, check with the airline to see if your child is young enough to sit in your lap to save the cost of buying an extra ticket.
- Gas stations are the easiest spending trap to fall into. Avoid paying $1.00 per water bottle and simply buy a 24 pack from the grocery store for a fraction of the price.
- Lack of preparation can cause you to miss out on some great perks when it comes to lodging. I'm a huge fan of signing up for a hotel rewards program and consistently using the same hotel (within reason) to rack up points. This has given me free breakfast and wifi perks, as well as a couple of nights for free.
- Overpacking can turn into a spending trap if you find yourself paying for luggage that's over an airline's limits. Save yourself the hassle and the money by weighing your bag at home before you travel.
I'm always a little impressed by the fact that our son isn't even tall enough to reach the light switch but is still making our energy bill just a bit more expensive.
Related Posts: 7 Ways to Cut Your Electricity Bill
- Extra dishes and a dirty clothes will increase the number of times you run your appliances. Try to limit their use to the evening so the air conditioning won't have to fight so hard to keep your home cool.
- Constantly plugged in gadgets (even if they're turned off) are still using energy. Purchase an affordable power strip and turn the switch off when their items aren't being used.
10. Extracurricular Activities/Sports
My son is only 15 months but I'm still faced with the pressure to have him involved in multiple, expensive activities. Swimming lessons in my area cost almost $100 for only ONE visit per week. That's insane!
Related Post: 15 Activities to Help Survive a Spending Freeze
- Learn how to use the powerful "No." If your child is younger, utilize this magical word when your friends pressure you to sign up for something your kid really doesn't need.
- If your child is older, be honest about how much your budget can afford to spend on extracurricular activities and go over their different options. You'd be surprised at how mature kids can be when given the facts and the power to choose between a list of options.
- Did I ever tell you about how we used to be involved with every free activity in our area, Monday through Friday? Yes, the activities were free but the cost of gas and impromptu fast food lunches were costing us a fortune. Look at how the entire day (not just the activity) may affect your budget.
Raising a child definitely costs a lot of money and it takes a bit of strategizing to make everything balance out nicely.
I certainly wouldn't recommend trying to get pregnant on the idea that diapers and formula will just magically appear. But the cost of raising a child doesn't have to be as overwhelming or as expensive as you think. Awareness is one of the best ways you can begin to be financially prepared to have a baby.
What do you think is the most surprising cost of having a child?