From the moment your baby arrives, she’ll add joy to your life…along with instant new expenses. Find out how to maximize your budget for your growing family.
Budgeting for a family can be challenging, with the average amount spent on raising a child soaring above $200,000 over 17 years (that works out to a little over $13,000 a year, if you break it down). There are so many things that you just need to get for your little ones—but also, who can resist how cute those teeny baby clothes are? Luckily, there are easy and painless ways to keep costs down without ever really feeling it. And our tips will help to free up your time as well, so consider these a win-win situation.
- Buy in bulk to save
As fans of bulk-items stores can attest, when you buy more than one product at a time, things usually get cheaper—and if you buy multi-item sets, you often get a useful free bonus item in the mix, too. That’s true for Pipette’s value kits and bundles—and because we’re firm believers that a parent can never have too many baby wipes, we offer our water-based, ultra-safe wipes in 3-packs and 6-packs at a 30% discount. Many stores and companies (Pipette included!) also have auto-renew options on bundled products that cut costs further still. (Plus, then you never have to experience the dreaded “crap, I ran out of baby balm” moment).
- Make money while you shop
No, it’s not the made-up math you do in your head when you shop on sale (“50% off? That’s practically like being paid to buy it!”). Apply for a credit card that gives you money back or points that you can use towards shopping or travel. The percentage may seem small but definitely adds up over time. Cash-back loyalty programs are also easy to use — sign up, install them in your browser bar and get a percentage of your purchase back. Some of them even work in brick and mortar stores through an app.
- Cook ahead
One of the easiest ways to spend too much money is by constantly ordering takeout. (We know, we know. Takeout is just so easy.) But if you make big batches of food on the weekends, you can keep your refrigerator (and freezer) stocked for the week—and eat healthier food in the process. That way when the family is hungry, all you’re doing is heating up a meal at a fraction of the price of delivery, rather than hitting Seamless again. If the prospect of cooking feels intimidating, there are tons of cooking and recipe apps like Yummly, Tasty, Allrecipes Dinner Spinner, Pepperplate, and NYT Cooking that can help you stay organized and give you dinner inspiration. The more shared ingredients between your recipes, the more concise your shopping list will be, which means even more savings. If you pack homemade snacks to take with you from your weekly cooking, you’ll also save money by not having to stop and get food for hungry kids while you’re out.
- Join a neighborhood group
You don’t need to buy everything brand-new for your little one. Neighborhood groups like Nextdoor or local parenting groups on Facebook are a great source of gently used clothing and gear (and sometimes brand-new items that just didn’t work out!). And you can sell your own items once you’re done with them to make back some of the money you’ve already spent. Did we mention the environmental benefits of using each item multiple times, rather than always buying something new? Your child will never know the difference between a brand-new onesie and one that’s been worn a few times, but your wallet definitely will.
- Find free classes
Keeping your child entertained and stimulated is critical, especially during the freezing cold, dark days of winter. But tuition for each individual class can really add up! Take a little time to research free classes in your area—the family category on neighborhood community apps like Meetup can be a great resource. Some free classes might be introductory trials, so you might not be able to take them endlessly without paying (but at least you’ll know if you like them before you sign up!). Your community center and local library are also excellent resources for free activities, reading circles, and classes. Check your local bookstore for free story times as well.
- Travel at off times
Taking trips with your family is a special way to build memories, but the cost of getting where you’re going can be daunting. If you plan ahead and are flexible with your travel dates, you can get amazing deals. Sign up for emails from travel sites for price drop alerts, sales and special offers (same for a hotel that you are dying to stay at). Check the local tourism board for any special offers they might have as well. And a AAA membership still gets you a discount at many travel locations. Car trips are often less expensive than flying, so figure that into your choice of location as well. Many destinations have “seasons,” and if you book yourself into the off-season, you’ll find significantly reduced rates for slightly less perfect weather conditions.
So, yes: kids are expensive. But with a little craftiness and forethought, you can cut down your expenses without feeling like you’re obsessing over cost—or spending all your time hunting for the ultimate deal.