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It Costs $245k To Raise A Child? 18 Ways Modern Parents Overspend You Should Avoid

It Costs $245k To Raise A Child? 18 Ways Modern Parents Overspend You Should Avoid

Children are great: they’re your little bundles of joy. But raising kids can really add up — to around $245,000! That’s a serious amount of cash. So before you start planning vacations and buying books, give this list a read. Here are 18 great ways to save money on your kids without skimping on anything.

1. Breastfeed if you can.

Breastfeeding is generally considered to be better for babies, especially within the first six months. It’s easier for tiny tummies to digest breast milk rather than formula. However, that’s not the only reason you should consider breastfeeding. According to one cost breakdown, feeding your baby formula will run you over $1,700, while breastfeeding is, of course, free. That being said, some women have to buy pumps to help accommodate their busy schedules.

2. Buy baby necessities online.

Sometimes, sites like Amazon have better deals on baby essentials like diapers. Many also allow you to buy in bulk, so you don’t have to keep going to the store and buying more of the product.

3. Clip coupons.

Using coupons is an underrated tactic in saving money. Your local newspaper likely carries lots of coupons, especially on Sundays. Check online as well for coupons to places from the grocery store to drugstores to children’s clothing shops.

4. Vacation close to home.

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    Chances are, your child will not remember much about the vacations that you take him or her on during the first decade or so of life. Sure, there will be snippets of memory, but not much else. While your child is still very young, consider taking vacations close to home. It’s a shame to spend a ton of money on a plane ticket, accommodations, and entertainment to another country when camping in a neighboring state would provide just as much fun for your kid. Save the extravagant vacations for later.

    5. Buy used books.

    This goes for baby books as well as textbooks for that first semester of college. Secondhand books are often incredibly cheap and readily available online and at community centers such as libraries. For example, currently on Amazon the popular children’s book Guess How Much I Love You is available new for $7.55 or used for as little as $0.01. Yes, for one cent.

    6. Join community sports teams.

    Kids love playing sports, and should be encouraged to do so. However, many teams require sign up fees, as well as fees for uniforms, team photos, and more. Many community teams, however, are totally free and can be just as much fun.

    7. Save old books, clothes, and toys.

    I’m the youngest in my family, and with two older brothers, I got lots of Hot Wheels and action figures to play with as my siblings got older. I loved them, and this meant my parents didn’t have to spend as much on toys for me growing up, since they’d already bought them for my brothers. Saving your first child’s belongings (as long as they’re in good condition) will save you money with any more children that come along in the future.

    8. Build backyard entertainment.

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      Sandboxes are a ton of fun, and your child will probably love having one so close. Additionally, a good sprinkler setup is tons of fun in the summer, as is a small inflatable pool (which you can buy here for the low cost of $17). In a pinch, having a good backyard play area will save money on vacations and trips to costly entertainment parks. The Six Flags water parks cost up to $59.99 for general admission, with kids’ tickets being $39.99.

      9. Customize your child’s birthday parties yourself.

      My parents were awesome at this: my mom always made my cakes herself, and they would make things like treasure hunts, water balloon fights, and even a makeshift pirate plank walk over an inflatable pool one year. Before you spend potentially hundreds at a venue like Chuck E. Cheese’s, consider making your child’s birthday cheaper and more special by doing it yourself.

      10. Shop at secondhand or consignment stores.

      Often, secondhand or consignment stores have trendy clothing that’s in perfect condition with fractions of the prices if you were to buy the same items from the original seller. Plato’s Closet is one such secondhand store, with stores expanding all across the country.

      11. Sell your old stuff.

      If you’re done having kids and they’ve got a whole bunch of stuff laying around that they’re not using, try selling it. There are tons of websites and stores out there for selling books, clothes, and even furniture like cribs. You could even have a yard sale. Just put a couple of signs up around your neighborhood and dedicate half a Saturday to selling.

      12. Tutor when you can.

      If your child is having trouble learning something in school, help him or her out if you have the expertise and time. Tutors can cost anywhere from $15 to $75 an hour, so save some money by teaching your child yourself. Often, even if you’re a little rusty on 4th grade math or 7th grade biology, you’ll be able to pick it up again quickly in order to help out.

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      13. Have your kids pitch in.

      Little things add up. For example, car washes cost anywhere from $6 to $20 depending on your area and the level of wash. Maid services cost, on average, between $175 and $225. Adding these tasks to your children’s chore list (and helping out yourself) can save you some major bucks. If you’re looking to add some more incentive, try making it into a game or contest. Your children (and you) will be happier.

      14. Research your babysitters.

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        While it’s important that you feel confident that the person watching your child is competent and responsible, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting a good rate. On average, babysitters make around $10 an hour. I’ve worked as a babysitter for years, and when I first started, I worked for a family that was friends with my mom. Because I was young, and because I was a family friend, I made less money but was just as responsible as someone that family could have hired from the Internet. Ask around to see if any of your friends have responsible teenagers looking to make a few extra bucks.

        15. Carpool.

        Gasoline prices are, on average, $3.52 per gallon. That can really add up when you’re taking your kids to school, piano lessons, soccer practice, and everywhere else. Consider finding one or two other families who take their kids to the same school or community sports team and arrange a carpool. This way, everyone takes turns and you save time and money.

        16. Cook more.

        Eating out is great, and it’s an important part of teaching your children good manners and appropriate restaurant behavior. That being said, going grocery shopping saves you a ton of money on food costs. It’s also a valuable money and cooking lesson for your kids. Bring them into the kitchen to help out. Not only will this send them a good message, but it will also create some great memories.

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        17. Have family movie nights.

        The average cost of a movie ticket in the U.S. is $7.96. Add in extras like popcorn, candy, and drinks, and you’re looking at quite a hefty bill. Instead, gather the family in the living room for a night of rented or streamed entertainment. Even refreshments are cheaper when you make them at home.

        18. Buy books and toys rather than electronics.

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          In today’s technology-focused culture, children from babies to preteens are being given their parents’ electronics to play with. While this might seem like a good way to entertain your child while, perhaps, waiting for a table at a restaurant, it’s actually bad for them and more costly. Research has shown that the devices encourage passivity, and they also blur the lines for children as to what is and is not a toy. With iPads starting at $499, consider buying your child books and toys. They’re cheaper and better for their development.

          Featured photo credit: Kevin Dooley via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on January 2, 2019

          How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

          How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

          Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

          Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

          Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

          This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

          Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

          What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

          Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

          When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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          How It Leads to Financial Improvement

          It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

          Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

          Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

          It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

          Types of Personal Finance Software

          When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

          Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

          For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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          Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

          When to Use Personal Finance Software

          So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

          Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

          1. You Have Multiple Accounts

          There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

          If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

          Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

          2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

          Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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          There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

          With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

          3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

          Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

          Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

          Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

          4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

          Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

          You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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          How to Get Started

          From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

          Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

          It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

          When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

          Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

          Final Thoughts

          Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

          In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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