Balancing the demands of everyday life can be tricky, and adding kids to that equation can be trickier. While you’ve undoubtedly been told that “kids are so expensive!” you also know there are plenty of ways to raise a family on a budget — one that still allows for fun family times. There are many different facets to raising kids on a budget, and here are a few:
This calculator from Baby Center is great for estimating costs associated with having a baby (for the first year). There will likely be some variability, but you can at least get a general idea of how you should budget.
Another Baby Center article shares common ways to cut costs on baby-related expenses. Note that there are pros and cons, however. For instance, using cloth instead of disposable diapers could save you money. However, when you factor in the cost of water, electricity, and detergent or additional time spent in a laundromat, it may not. Ditto making your own baby food — if you have the equipment and time to do so, you could probably save some money.
Save on baby gear by creating a registry/some sort of list for friends and family. Buy certain items second-hand. Chicago has several consignment stores for maternity, babies, and older children, a few of which are listed below. If you have extra baby clothing or gear that is still in good condition, you can also bring them to these stores and earn a commission:
Will your kids go to college? When should you start saving? What type of account should you get? The answers depend on your lifestyle and values.
Some common accounts include a 529, UMBTA, and Coverdell accounts. The main difference between a 529 and UMBTA is that 529s are exclusively for education, otherwise, there is a penalty. UMBTA is controlled by a parent or guardian until the child reaches a certain age, after which the funds can be used for anything. For more information, check out this article and make sure you are on our email list to receive next month’s newsletter! (For “Back to School” savings in general, we wrote a post last fall about some great ways to save: Back to School.)
School and clothes probably aren’t very exciting for the kids, but having fun is! And Chicago is a great place for family-friendly fun.
Chicago Kids is a great resource for all sorts of children’s activities in the area. If you’re looking for something this summer, this post on “100 Free Family Friendly Things to Do This Summer in Chicago” is great. We also recommend visiting the Chicago Park District’s website for information on all public parks, playgrounds, and beaches.
In terms of budgeting for parties and toys/entertainment, this post from Parents.com offers some helpful tips for budgeting a child’s birthday party, including timing, upcycling, and finding a venue.
Emphasize Family Nights, maybe by playing board games or making a meal together as a family. This post from She Knows has 20 ideas for various family night activities for all ages.
Remember that while toys and entertainment are fun, learning the value experiences over “stuff” makes for a great lifelong practice, besides being beneficial for budgeting.
When there are many mouths to feed, groceries take up a larger percentage of the family’s budget. Here are some of our best tips for shopping for keeping everyone well-fed on a budget:
Many blogs offer tips for shopping for large families on a budget, and some include meal ideas to plan out the week. Examples include:
Remember, great money habits can be taught early on! Here are some of our ideas for teaching kids to save: