How To Save Money When You’re A Parent
Being a parent comes with a great many rewards. It’s wonderful to see our children grow and thrive, becoming their own person with their own personalities and ideas. Yet there is one thing that parenting doesn’t do; it doesn’t make you rich. In fact, being a parent can be very expensive. Even if you’re not constantly showering your little one with gifts and finery, the basics will soon add up.
Is it possible to save money when you’re a parent? We all know it’s important to put money aside for the future. But can it be done when you have a child or children to take care of too? The answer is yes, it can. It might be hard. And it might take a good deal of discipline. But it is certainly possible to save money when you’re a parent. Here are the ways you can get started.
For more on this topic, check out the full Saving Money collection
Fix Your Finances
We can all get into debt; it’s an easy thing to do. And something that most of us don’t even think about at the time. We think we need money for this thing or that, so we borrow it. The problem is when it comes time to pay it back, it can suddenly feel like it’s too much. We might borrow more to pay off the first debt, and the problem then spirals out of control.
Ideally, before you have children, but certainly once you do, it’s a good idea to put your finances in order. If you have borrowed too much and you’re having problems, getting a consolidation loan could be exactly the help you need. They will be able to help you get back on track when it comes to payments and debt. If the problems are worse, it’s wise to speak to an expert who can offer more advice.
If you can manage your debt, then try to work out a payment plan so that you can pay things off more quickly. That way, you will have more money to spend on your children’s basic needs (and some more fun things!) when you need it.
[Read: Painless Ways to Save Money and Maximize Your Budget]
Plan Meals In Advance
One of the simplest ‘tricks’ when it comes to saving money when you’re a parent is to plan your meals in advance. When you do this, you will know exactly what is being cooked and when, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You will also know what snacks to have in the house. If there is a special event coming up, you can ensure you have what you need for that too.
The most useful part about planning your meals in advance is that you can budget accordingly. If you have less money one week and more the next, you can buy items that fit with that budget. This way, you won’t be tempted to borrow money or get into additional debt.
Planning in advance isn’t just about knowing what you are going to cook on a certain night. It means you can take an accurate shopping list with you when you go grocery shopping, ensuring that you only buy what is necessary. This saves you money buying things that may even just get put in the trash because you couldn’t use them before the expiration date. Plus, if you have clubs and hobbies to fit around (for you and the children), or you’re working late some nights, or whatever other situations you need to work around in life, you can design a meal plan that works. It’s good for the budget, and it means less stress for you as a parent.
[Read: 7 Ways to Avoid Food Waste and Save Money]
Buy Reusable Items
It may initially be cheaper to buy disposable items such as paper towels and one-use diapers. But over time, having to buy more and more of these items again and again, the price can really add up. It’s much better for your budget in the long term to buy reusable items instead.
There is more work involved, we can’t pretend otherwise. Using cloth diapers and towels, for example, means more laundry, and they’re not quite so convenient when you are out and about. However, in terms of your budget, they are perfect. The longer you are able to use these reusable items, the less money you’ll need to spend, and even when you do have to replace them, they won’t cost anywhere near as much as the money you were able to save by not purchasing disposable versions.
As an added benefit, these reusable items are so much better for the environment. Rather than sending baby wipes and diapers to landfill, you will be washing and reusing your own. If everyone took a similar step, the difference would be incredible.
Sell What You No Longer Need
As mentioned above, children grow out of clothes, toys, and other items after a time. Sometimes they do so before you’ve even had a chance to really use them – this is especially true of baby clothing which might be left sitting in a closet with the tags still on because babies grow so quickly.
If you have items you no longer need, you could consider giving them away; it’s a technique we’ve already listed about how to save money. However, if you would rather make some money, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t sell those unwanted and sometimes unused items. Depending on what you are selling and the condition it is in, you could make a fair amount of money. Remember, you won’t ever get back what you paid for it (assuming you bought it new – if you bought it used or were given it then that is a different situation) so it’s not about trying to make a profit, but any cash you can get that will then go towards something else that you and your children need will be useful.
[Read: How to Start Consigning – Tips & Advice for the Beginner Consignor]
Could Work Help Out?
If you are working and you haven’t checked out the schemes in place to help parents, then it’s important you do. Although some companies don’t advertise the fact very much, many will actually offer childcare vouchers to help with the cost of childcare. This will benefit the company in the long term because it means they can get their employees back to work sooner. So it’s certainly something to look into since childcare is likely to be the most expensive part of raising children, at least until they are old enough for school.
Even if your place of work doesn’t offer this voucher system, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. You might try a nanny share, which will halve your childcare costs, or perhaps there will be some days when family and friends can help out. Look into all your options, and you might be surprised at how much money you can save compared to full-time childcare.
Make Sure You Treat Yourself
Although you’ll want to save money where you can when you’re a parent, it’s also important to treat yourself from time to time. Saving in all the ways mentioned above and only spending money on your child is fine – but it’s not sustainable. Why is this? The reason is that you’ll burn out quickly if you don’t take care of yourself.
Self-care is a crucial component of parenthood. As the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty jug. This is true. If you’re not at one hundred percent, you won’t be able to give one hundred percent either. So treat yourself once in a while. Get that new hair color you want because you’ll feel great when you do (just remember to get shampoo designed for color treated hair as well). Buy some tickets to see your favorite singer perform. Book a babysitter and go out for some fun. Do what you need to do to keep yourself happy, even if it means spending a little of what you saved.
For more on this topic, check out the full Saving Money collection