“I can’t afford to have kids!” or “Kids are expensive!”
Have you heard any of these before?
I sure did. And honestly, my thought process used to be exactly the same way before I became a mom.
Now I am not going to sugar coat anything.
Yes, of course, having children adds extra costs to our lifestyle. But as many parents will certainly agree, it is not as bad as many of us had originally thought.
Parents are masters of the invention if you ask me.
We do what needs to be done and come up with many original solutions to a given problem.
For instance, before we had kids I hardly ever bought seasonal or “on sale” produce at the supermarket. These days I adjust our weekly menu according to what I can buy at the best price. The Internet is full of hacks and how-tos and I certainly take advantage of them.
But there are many ways to go around the old habits of excessive spending. It just takes some time to adjust, a bit of researching and willingness to try new things. You might be surprised by the new-found you.
You might also enjoy reading:
- Essential Baby Registry Checklist [free printable pdf]
- 11 Ways We Find Free or Inexpensive Books for Our Kids
- 6 Non-Parenting Books Every Parent Needs to Read
How we save money with kids (and you can too!)
Stop keeping up with the Joneses
This is the most important piece of advice you can take out of this.
Once we step on the treadmill of comparison and competition, our finance plans and budgeting go down the drain.
It takes a lot of courage and real self-confidence to simply say “no” to every latest release of an expensive gadget or buying the “smartest” toy for our kids.
But it is a very liberating feeling. I promise.
Avoid impulse shopping
From small to big purchases, avoiding impulse shopping can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year.
From buying snacks every time you are at the gas station to a bottle of water at the check-out, those can all be avoided. Items like these are heavily overpriced and not worth it. Instead, bring your snacks with you if you have a long car ride ahead.
Plus, when you are shopping for clothes or toys for your children, keep at least 24 hours between the first spark of desire and an actual purchase. Often, the cute sweater we tried at our favorite store loses its power over us within a day or two.
Shop for groceries at the beginning of the week
Grocery stores are less busy early in the week and they try to attract customers by deals and sales.
Just the other day I happened to make a quick run to our store and I couldn’t believe all their specials they had. These never happen on the weekend!
So if your time and schedule allow, try to do your big weekly shopping on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the deals you find.
Learn to say “no” to your kids early on
I know it is hard for many of us. Everybody feels uncomfortable when our four-year-old throws a tantrum at the checkout.
But giving in to buying every silly toy or piece of candy, even if it costs only a dollar, only creates a vicious cycle of consumerism in our children.
I read a tip a while ago from one mom. She kept a Christmas list for her young daughter. Every time the daughter wanted something from a store, they would put it on the list together. Once a month they would read through it and actually take away items she no longer desired.
Save credit card points for birthday/holiday gifts
If you are a disciplined spender, having a credit card can be a great way to save extra dollars.
I use it to make all purchases, but pay them off right after. That way I don’t accumulate credit card debt, but still, I receive the cashback. It’s a win-win situation.
Then when the time comes I redeem the saved-up cash to pay for gifts for my family. Which brings me to the next point.
Set the number of gifts for holidays ahead of time
I like to make an agreement with my husband about our holiday/birthday shopping. We agree to buy one to two gifts for each other and focus on other things instead.
For me, gift giving is a symbolic gesture of love and appreciation rather than buying big ticket items.
Don’t you feel like lately, it is getting harder and harder to buy gifts for everybody? Everyone seems to have everything. Therefore agreeing to buy one to two gifts during Christmas and birthdays is a way to go for us.
One Amish family’s tradition was to give only 3 gifts to their children during Christmas. One gift is what the child wished for, one is to share with others and one is for spiritual growth, usually a book.
I found this very inspiring and actually very kind way of celebrating the real meaning of Christmas. I would like to keep the holidays more about traditions and family time rather than focusing on a number of boxes under the tree.
Use Cashback Apps before you make your online purchases
This option is great if you do a lot of shopping online.
They are not going to make you rich. But you can easily save enough money throughout the year to cover birthday/holiday expenses.
Or better yet, add extra money to your or your child’s savings account and watch it grow over the years.
Ebates seems to be the most popular option these days.
Make eating out a treat
We have never been big on eating out anyway.
And even before our children were born we made it our priority to feed them healthy homecooked meals. So we do. Our boys are 18 months old and they have never eaten chicken nuggets or french fries. Why should they?
Occasionally, we like to go and have pancakes for Sunday breakfast or have a dinner date with my husband. But it is a special treat rather than a weekly habit.
Cook simple meals
Instead of recipes that ask you for 20 different ingredients that you won’t use for anything else, choose the ones with simple fewer alternatives.
I recommend buying a favorite cookbook and stick with it. Recipes from one author contain similar ingredients, but you still get to try a variety of dishes.
I love cooking in a slow cooker and more often than not I don’t even follow any recipe.
Some spices and vegetables create a strong flavor in our meals and they make all the difference. Try using more dill weed, marjoram, cilantro, or add green or red pepper, parsnips, or celery to your crock pot meals. One simple ingredient can transform any old recipe into a novelty.
Stop buying bottled water
Invest in a water filter instead.
It is better for everyone, the planet and your budget too.
We’ve been doing this for years now. We use Pur water pitcher and it meets all of our water needs at the moment.
Ask around for hand-me-downs from friends
While expecting our twins, we asked other families with older children for clothes/toys. And eventually, we were able to offer our clothes and stuff to others.
Helping each other makes the world a better place.
And even the scientists agree that giving actually makes us happier than getting/buying things for ourselves.
No fancy children’s clothes
When we need new clothes for our twins, I always search baby resale stores first. I also head out to discount places like Ross and Marshalls and often find Carter’s (our favorite brand for children’s clothes) for great prices.
Babies and toddlers grow out of their clothes so fast and they honestly don’t care if they have an elephant or a dinosaur on their shirt.
I don’t have Internet plan on my phone
Yes, you heard me right.
As a stay-at-home mom, I have an all-day access to our wifi. Why would I need to pay more for something I already have?
And when we head outside, I hardly ever use my phone. I take it with me in the case of emergency. That’s all I need it for, really.
We don’t have cable
We use Sling TV and Netflix instead.
We are not big TV watchers in the first place and both options provide us with plenty of shows and movies to choose from.
Turn the switch off
We save a lot of money on utilities by simply not being wasteful.
We don’t keep the TV on all night long, nor leave it on when we are off the house in the morning.
In summer months, especially in the mornings and evenings, opening all the windows in the house creates a nice draft and there is no need to turn the AC on. In winter, we use space heaters at night instead of heating up the whole house.
And the list goes on and on. You know your family’s habits best. Try to have a good look at them and come up with a plan to avoid wasting not only money but our Earth’s precious resources (water, anyone?).
Some costs are easily cut down, while others might take some time.
There are definitely certain things we splurge on like buying organic meat for us and our boys. We prefer to use high-speed internet over cheaper options. And when it comes to car maintenance, we follow the recommendations and always get them done on time.
But even small changes in lifestyle can save us from hundreds to thousands of dollars in one year. And who doesn’t like that, right?