There’s no getting around it: Raising kids is expensive.
To raise a child born in 2015 through age 17, a middle-income couple will spend $233,610 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in), according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These expenses—which include shelter, food and other necessities—don’t factor in the cost of college.
Expenses vary based on the age of the child, how much parents earn and where families live.
But there are ways we can save along the way. Dupaco Community Credit Union’s Tami Brandenburg offers some cost-saving tips and tricks when it comes to raising kids:
Swap clothes and toys
Children—especially babies—outgrow their clothes at lightning speed.
Reach out to other parents with children and suggest swapping clothes and toys. That way, everyone saves.
“Find those resources, and don’t be afraid to use the hand-me-downs,” Brandenburg said. “We used to pass our kids’ clothes around.”
Swap child-care services
Date night can add up fast, especially when you hire a babysitter for the evening.
Don’t be afraid to call on your network of fellow parents to take turns watching each other’s children. You get a night away from the kids without the expense of a babysitter—and the benefit of helping your friends get that all-important “us time” too.
“Just like your financial cooperative, it’s people helping people,” Brandenburg said.
Turn to consignment stores and garage sales
If you don’t have a group of parents to swap clothes and toys with, or you need to supplement the hand-me-downs you receive, give consignment stores and garage sales a try.
When your kids outgrow their clothes and toys, and you can’t rehome them, consign them or sell them at your own garage sale.
The cash you earn can be put toward future child-raising expenses.
Take advantage of kids’ nights
Of course, you will save money by cooking meals at home with groceries purchased on sale or with coupons.
But everyone likes a break from the kitchen sometimes.
When you treat the family to a meal out, plan ahead. Many restaurants offer discounted, or even free, meals for kids certain days of the week.
Don’t forget about free entertainment
There are plenty of low-cost ways to have fun with your family.
Explore new parks, hiking trails and your local library’s kid-friendly programs. Some museums and other attractions offer free, or reduced admission certain days of the week or month.
And your Dupaco membership gives you access to free or reduced-rate admission to events and activities throughout the year!
Stick to your budget
It doesn’t take long for children to start asking for toys and other wants.
“I think about how much more money I could have put away for my child’s future that I ended up spending on little toys that ended up in the backseat of the car,” Brandenburg said.