Written by: Ruthie Cody
Artwork by: Laura Villareal
I know, another blog post on how to save money with a growing family. They seem to be everywhere! If you do a quick online search for money saving tips with kids, you will get all sorts of advice and opinions. One thing that always amazes me is how much stuff we think that babies need. We knew before having children that we didn’t have space for a lot of stuff, in our small or apartment nor in our budget. Since having our first and expecting our second, our budget has stayed almost exactly the same in terms of how much we save each month. I know once my boys are older they will have bigger appetites, so grocery bills might have to be adjusted, but I am still pretty proud of fitting diapers and other baby supplies into the budget without sacrificing our savings. Here’s how we do it:
- Pick your number. Know how much you want to save every month and work your budget around that end goal. Don’t ever think that you can spend all the money you make every month. That’s bad. Always have some savings for emergencies and peace of mind.
- Meal plan and make a grocery list. Making a meal plan will automatically fuel the items for your grocery list. Once you have your list, stick with it. Don’t go for impulse buys.
- Cook at home. My husband and I both work full-time, but cooking at home has always been a priority. There have been so many times when I have wanted to order food from a restaurant instead of cooking (SO many times), but my future-self always thanks my present-self when I decide to suck it up and cook, even when I am exhausted.
- Find cheap or free entertainment. We don’t have a cable bill, we don’t have expensive date nights, and we don’t get random cups of coffee or tea at Starbucks. We do have wifi and Netflix, which gives us some movie dates after the baby is in bed, but if our budget ever got tight we would probably cut out Netflix, too. For our son, we take him to the park, or the free play gym at the local shopping mall, or even some free museums. Little kids love climbing, running, and playing, all of which can be done for zero dollars.
- Use your local library. I mean you are technically paying for it anyway. If you use it even a handful of times, you have probably gotten more value out of it than you paid in with taxes. I have found that reading books with or in front of your child is one of the best ways to spend time together. If you are reading your own books, it sets a good example for good habits in the future too. Libraries also host events for kids, which makes it like free entertainment too!
- Shop used. We have been fortunate to have been gifted many baby clothes, but when my son does need something new, I always look to the thrift store first. Baby clothes, especially ones for special occasions, are never worn more than a few times and can look new at thrift stores. I have gotten some really beautiful clothes for my son, some with tags still on, for a fraction of the original price. The same goes for adult clothes! Always check the thrift store first, you never know what you will find.