According to, the average parent will pay over $250,000 to raise a child born this year. Why not keep as much of that quarter-million in your pocket as you possibly can? Here are five ways to keep more of your hard earned money while raising your kids:

1. Beg, Borrow, and Beg Some More. Any parent knows that kids – particularly babies – need a lot of equipment. But the amount of time they stay at any one particular stage is almost laughable! Kids seem to move on to the next stroller, crib, highchair, and set of clothes with the blink of an eye. That’s why before you invest hundreds of dollars in carriages and high chairs, you should check in with your friends and relatives first. Send the word out that you’re looking for a highchair, stroller, or even a snow suit in size 2T, and you’ll likely soon be deluged with offers.

Moms really do hate tossing their baby’s good used clothes and equipment, so they typically round up the stuff and donate it. However, it doesn’t sit well donating these precious items to huge, impersonal thrift shops either. Moms want to know where their much-loved items have gone. Keeping the items closer to home, school, church, or workplace just feels better. If any of these places has an email list, send out a request for what you’re looking for so the Moms you know can help you find the items you need. Some of these lists may include items for a price and not a freebie, but they’ll likely be far below the price you’d pay retail.

2. Under-buy Clothing and Toys. Rare is the parent who hasn’t packed away unused clothing, toys, and equipment that they thought their child just “had” to have. Instead of contributing to excessive consumption, try to curb yourself a bit. If you think your son needs five pair of jeans for school, try buying four instead. Buy one pair of sneakers instead of two and two sweatshirts instead of four. You can always go back if you need more

When we’re talking about babies, don’t waste even a penny on little “outfits!” You’ll be amazed to find out just how many people want to give you cute little dresses and bib overalls as gifts for your baby. Let Grandma or Auntie spend her money on that sweet little hand-smocked pinafore that your little one will wear once for pictures. After all, it’s a onetime purchase for them, whereas you have to consider the cost of clothing your child for many years to come.

3. Shop Ahead. Every summer, the same thing happens – we get the list of equipment and supplies for the coming school year right around the second or third week in August – right when the stores are running out of all the school supplies they’ve had on sale for the past two weeks! We end up paying full price for a lunch box or binder that is the last one on the shelf, and we all come home cranky, with our wallets a little lighter.

By planning ahead – not just for back-to-school, but for all your needs – you’ll be able to space out your purchasing and hunt for bargains. When you see a pair of rain boots on sale in a size that your son will fit into NEXT spring, you’ll snap them up because you know that he’ll need them. Keep an eye on your kids’ closets, and a running list in your day planner of what you’re going to need. Then grab it when you see it at a good price.

4. Barter for Extras. Raising kids is expensive enough without counting the gymnastic lessons, tutoring, horseback riding classes, and the like. Cut down on your out-of-pocket expenses by bartering. I’ve swapped newsletter writing for tae kwon do lessons for years! And I just discovered a neighbor wants to learn to knit, which I’ll gladly teach her in exchange for math tutoring for my daughter.

If you don’t think you have a talent that someone else wants, think again. Better yet, ask a friend or family member you trust this question; “What do I do that has value?” You’ll be surprised the things other people can see that you can’t! Something as simple as making chili or sewing on buttons can be valuable when you can’t do them and need them done. I witnessed one of my friends saying she didn’t have anything worth bartering while she was kneading the dough for her wonderful homemade yeast bread! So, yes, ask someone else what talent you have that could be bartered.

5. Split Costs. Another solution for expensive lessons and equipment is to split costs with another family. Instead of signing up for an hour-long private swim lesson or tennis lesson, do a semi-private at half the cost. And, yes, instructors are perfectly fine with this arrangement because they want to fill their time, shared or not, it doesn’t matter to them. They’re not going to force you into a private lesson one-on-one if you can’t afford it. They’d rather share the lesson than lose you entirely.

Share sporting gear with another child who’s the same size as your player. Especially at the younger years when kids are just figuring out what they like to do, it’s not worth paying fullprice when the interest might be short-lived.

It’s true, kids are expensive. And we all know they’re a joy rather than an investment – well, maybe a “joyful investment.” But you can find ways to tame the costs of raising kids while still providing most of the things you want them to have in life.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply