Guest Post by Joyce Wilson
It costs about $233,610 to raise a child from birth to the age of 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While most parents would agree that the cost is well worth it, you don’t actually need to spend this kind of money to give your child a happy, healthy, and enriching childhood. You can practice many money-saving tactics to reduce your spending on everything from housing and food to childcare and education. The Washington Homeschool Organization offers some simple ways to raise your children on a budget.
Learn to Be a Smart Shopper
Smart shopping techniques will save you a lot of time and money throughout your children’s development. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours clipping coupons to rack up the savings on everyday purchases. Start by monitoring the costs of your favorite items over time and buying regular staples like chicken, coffee, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies only when they go on sale. Look for discounts online before shopping and try to combine store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons to maximize your savings. For example, when you shop at stores like Walmart or Target online, you can often access additional savings that aren’t available for in-store purchases.
Some other ways to save include buying generic store brands, in-season produce, and bulk items whenever possible. Once you get in the habit of smart shopping, you’ll be able to save significant money on all of your household purchases going forward.
Cook Healthy Meals at Home
Another way to save money is to limit your household spending on takeout and restaurant dining. According to Money Crashers, the average American household spends about $3,000 every year eating out. People between 35 and 45 tend to spend the most! Eating may be more convenient than cooking at home, especially for busy parents, but preparing meals for your family is much cheaper—and healthier!
Put together healthy, home-cooked meals as often as possible. Providing good nutrition to your children from early childhood and into their teenage years will support their mental and physical development and help them form healthy habits. Get your kids involved in meal prep to help them develop this important life skill. Teaching kids to cook helps them form an appreciation for food, understand where their food comes from, and develop a palate for healthy options.
Encourage Other Healthy Behaviors
Encouraging other healthy habits in your children can help prevent illness and reduce your spending on healthcare services. For example, make sure your kids brush and floss their teeth properly, get regular exercise, eat healthy snacks, stick to a regular bedtime and naptime routine, and drink plenty of water. Be a good role model for your kids, practicing the behaviors you want to see in them. Remember, your kids will carry these habits with them for the rest of their lives!
Reduce Spending on Entertainment
Besides shopping and eating out, families also tend to spend a lot of money on entertainment. But you don’t have to spend much—if anything—to keep your kids active and engaged. When you want to get outside, enjoy free activities like taking a hike in the forest, having a picnic in your backyard, or spending a day at the beach. And when it comes to getting creative indoors, you don’t always have to rely on video games or TV. There are plenty of inexpensive crafts you can do with your kids. A building challenge with Legos, creating artwork or storytelling can be great ways to get creative.
That said, you don’t have to keep your kids entertained at all times. Boredom can have several benefits for children. Being bored is an opportunity for children to flex their creativity, try new things, and step out of their comfort zones. It will also teach your children patience and how to tolerate temporary feelings of discomfort.
You do not have to spend outrageous amounts of money to give your kids a fulfilling childhood. Instead of splurging on everyday purchases and gifting your children expensive presents for every birthday, save and invest your money for the future. The lessons you teach and the memories you make matter much more than the money you spend!