I came across this recent article on Parents.com – Will Millennials Be Able to Afford to Raise Children? – and I can’t say I was overly shocked about the amount of money it costs to raise a child- $26,000 for the first year and over $240,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18, but, when you put the numbers down on paper it is a little overwhelming. And because we live in Brooklyn, I imagine these figures are a bit on the conservative side. I know I didn’t get a $26,000 raise when I gave birth each time, so where is all this money coming from?? And in crazy moments when I contemplate having a third, I just need to read this article to bring me back to the reality. On the other hand, all I have to do is look at my children’s sweet faces and money becomes nothing to me.
I have found some ways to make the price tag shrink a little bit. Here are some of my big money savers.
1. Clothing – I have been fortunate enough to have great friends who like to share. I have been given a steady wardrobe for my older daughter by friends with older kids and I regularly swap her clothes with friends who can provide boy clothing for my son. It has worked great and I rarely have to buy anything but the basics.
2. Toys/Gear – Again, I have swapped with parents everything from pack ‘n plays to carriers, from puzzles to books. I’ve found you don’t need a plethora of stuff for them to play with (and where are you going to store it anyway??) and rotating toys makes them fresh and exciting for the kids.
4. Food – I am not a cook but I did learn how to make some great, simple purees and recipes for the first two years of both my children’s lives. I made most of my own baby food so our freezer was always stuffed. It was healthier and less expensive.
3. Childcare – We were also fortunate enough that my husband could stay home with my daughter the first year of her life so we had limited childcare expenses. The second year, we did a nanny share. Not only did it save tremendously on costs, give us the flexibility a daycare couldn’t, but my daughter made a friend for life. The third year proved to be ultra expensive as my son was born and we needed to employ a full-time nanny. But this coming year, my daughter will go to public pre-K so we will be able to do a nanny share once again.
4. Babysitting co-op – My mom’s group formed a babysitting co-op from the time my first was 6 months old. Because I was a little leery of burdening my mom friends with a crying baby, my husband and I would use it to go out after she was asleep. It was a great trade!
4. School – My daughter attended a co-op preschool during her 3’s. You have to put in a bit of time but the cost compared to a regular preschool was huge.
These were my biggest money savers the first few years of being a parent. Did you have any big ones I didn’t mention?