If you’re like me, you never believed your mom or dad when they complained about how expensive kids were. I always thought they were just looking for yet another thing to complain about. As soon as I figured out I was about to have one, I hit the internet to find out how much my mini-me was going to cost. My eyes almost started bleeding when Bloomberg told me I’d be spending $234,900.00 before my kid even hit college!
By the time Jet came to this world, I was trying to figure out how to afford adult food after shelling out $125.00 a month for his baby food alone. Luckily I’m cheap and figured out some ways to cut corners in the first couple years. I was able to use these tricks over the years to save some cash while making sure I wasn’t being a terrible parent.
Use your registry for long term goods: When it comes to your registry put things on there that you know you’ll need down the road. Instead of getting 20 pairs of 1-3 month size jeans, add every size up to 4T. Do the same for the developmental toys and other goods. I ended up getting enough of a variety at my shower that I didn’t need to purchase much other than food and diapers for the first two years.
Walking is your best friend: Instead of joining a gym to lose that post baby weight, go for a walk! Your kid should be outside anyways, and why shell out all that money a month for a gym? On top of membership fees you’ll most likely have to pay for a under qualified gym employee to watch your kid while you’re there. Even when I went back to work full time, I forced myself to take a nightly walk a few times a week. It gave me an activity to look forward to with my son and helped me drop some of that post baby weight. I found this article on The Fitness Walking Guide had some great tips on working out with a stroller.
Garage sales or thrift shops: I remember as a child how horrified I got when my mom went to garage sales for my clothes. I quickly realized what an idiot I was after shelling out $20.00 dollars for a pair of tiny jeans, only to have them last 2 wearings before being destroyed. The chances of actually getting the full worth of baby clothes or toys before they are either destroyed or grown out of is slim to none. Use Craigslist or your local paper to map out a garage sale route. Getting Rich Slowly has a good article on how to maximize your garage sale experience. You just need realize that no one but yourself knows that those cute jeans came from the local Savers instead of Macy’s.
The local paper is your friend: Most local papers have an upcoming activity list of things to do in our local area. Use this to scope out new and exciting things to do with your kid. Summer festivals are a common thing around here, and they are usually free. Just remember to bring the snacks and drinks so you don’t get caught having to pay for overpriced and unhealthy food.
Always have food on hand: Always have food and drink on hand, even if it’s just a juice box and small snack. Eating out every time your kid starts whining about being hungry adds up quick. This rule also applies to school lunches, save money by packing them. School lunches aren’t known for being the most healthy of meals anyways. By packing school lunch you’re saving money and making sure your kid isn’t filling up on garbage. EatingWell has a great list of different and fun lunches and snacks that kids will love.
Being a parent WILL mean spending a ton of your hard earned cash on your kids. It doesn’t mean you have to let them bleed you dry though. With some good planning and penny pinching you can still give your kid an awesome childhood experience without putting yourself in the poorhouse.