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12 Ways Kids Don’t Have to Be so Expensive

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Parenting is one of life’s greatest joys, but it’s often associated with significant financial strain. Many people, especially millennials, are choosing not to have kids. Seventeen percent of adults who choose not to have children cite financial reasons as their primary concern. The Institute for Family Studies puts the cost of raising kids in the USA at over $233,000.

Despite the tough economic times, raising a child doesn’t have to break the bank. Many parents are discovering that raising happy, healthy children can be done on a budget without sacrificing quality or fun.

There are plenty of strategies to help keep expenses low. In this post, we’ll explore practical and budget-friendly parenting tips that will make you wonder why you’ve never thought of them. Put your creativity cap on and see how you can provide a rich upbringing for your kids without spending a fortune.

1. Organize Free Fun

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We agree; Disneyland trips and equestrian sports every weekend cost a pretty penny. One of the easiest ways to save money is by organizing free activities. Parks, nature trails, and community events offer endless opportunities for kids to play and learn. Check local libraries for storytime sessions and craft workshops, all typically free of charge.

Additionally, consider setting up playdates with other parents. This not only fosters social skills but also provides a change of scenery without spending a dime.

2. Choose a Safe, Affordable House

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If you desire your children to grow up in a posh suburb with personal bedrooms and private pools, you may end up breaking the bank (unless money is not a problem). When it comes to housing, location is key. Opt for safe, family-friendly neighborhoods that offer affordable housing options.

Research areas with good schools and community amenities, but don’t feel pressured to buy a large home. Smaller homes are not only more affordable but also easier to maintain. The goal is a safe, loving environment. The size or grandeur of the house isn’t as important as the memories you’ll create there.

3. Buy Second-Hand Clothes

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Kids grow fast, and buying new clothes every few months can be costly. Thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces like eBay and Facebook Marketplace are treasure troves for gently used kids’ clothing.

Organize clothing swaps with other parents to refresh your child’s wardrobe without spending money. It’s eco-friendly and budget-friendly.

4. Have More Home-Cooked Meals

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Eating out can drain your budget quickly. Home-cooked meals are not only healthier but also significantly cheaper. Plan your meals, buy ingredients in bulk, and get the kids involved in cooking. It’s a great way to teach them valuable life skills while saving money.

Batch cooking and freezing meals can save time and ensure you always have a homemade meal ready to go, avoiding the temptation of takeout.

5. Don’t Overspend on Toys

A mom sitting with her daughter while she plays with her toys
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While toys might feel important for development (as marketing tells us), they don’t have to be expensive or fancy. If you want to invest in a few, focus on versatile toys that encourage creativity and can be used in multiple ways. Puzzles, blocks, and art supplies are excellent choices. Don’t underestimate the fun of regular household items, though.

Rotate toys to keep things fresh or trade with friends and neighbors. Sometimes, just putting a toy away for a few weeks can make it exciting again when it reappears.

6. Use Kids-Eat-Free Offers When Eating Out

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Eating out occasionally is an excellent experience for the whole family, but you can be smart about it, too. Many restaurants offer “kids eat free” nights. Take advantage of these promotions to enjoy a meal without the hefty bill.

Sign up for restaurant newsletters and loyalty programs to stay updated on special offers and discounts. It’s a great way to treat the family while staying within budget.

7. Make Vacations Cheap

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Vacations are a superb way to bond with your kids while exploring the world. Vacations don’t have to be extravagant to be memorable. Staying at Airbnb can be a cost-effective alternative to hotels, often offering more space and amenities like kitchen facilities. Or go for a fully traditional summer experience and pitch a tent, either on a road trip or even in your own backyard.

Look for family-friendly destinations with plenty of free or low-cost attractions. This way, you can save on dining out by preparing some of your meals.

8. Teach Kids About Needs and Wants Early

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Have you tried shopping with a child? Everything they see is a must-have! However, financial education should start young. Teach your children the difference between needs and wants. Encourage them to save their allowance and make thoughtful spending decisions.

This helps them understand the value of money and fosters responsible financial habits. Explain budgeting, saving, and spending using real-life examples. Involve them in simple family financial decisions to give them practical experience.

9. Volunteer to Get Discounts

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Do you want your child on the soccer team or at a prestigious private school? Volunteering can often lead to discounts on activities and events. Many organizations offer reduced rates or free admission to volunteers.

It’s a great way to save money, give back to the community, and teach your children the importance of helping others. Look for opportunities at local museums, zoos, and community events. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

10. Be Open to Getting Hand-Me-Downs

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That crib from your sister-in-law will work as perfectly as a new expensive one. Hand-me-downs are a fantastic way to save money on clothes, toys, and baby gear. Don’t hesitate to accept gently used items from friends and family. It’s practical and reduces waste.

Similarly, pass on items your children have outgrown to others who can use them. This will create a cycle of generosity that benefits everyone.

11. Reduce Paid Extracurricular Activities

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From dance recitals to violin lessons, extracurricular activities can add up quickly. Limit the number of paid activities and encourage participation in free or low-cost community programs. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with what everyone else’s kids are doing.

Local parks and recreation departments often offer affordable classes and sports leagues. Instead of signing up for numerous programs, focus on activities that your child truly enjoys and benefits from.

12. Skip Preschool

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While preschool can be beneficial, it’s not always necessary. Consider home-based early education activities to prepare your child for kindergarten. There are plenty of free resources and curriculums available online.

Engage in interactive learning activities at home, like reading together, playing educational games, and exploring nature. It’s a cost-effective way to provide a strong foundation.


20 Strong Words Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

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Countless adults sitting in a therapist’s office today are grappling with the lasting impact of words spoken by their parents during childhood. Regardless of how you perceive yourself, in your child’s eyes, you are nothing short of the most remarkable thing to happen to them since “skip intro.” This underscores the critical importance of being mindful of what you say to your children, as your words become the small but influential voice in their developing minds.

20 Strong Words Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

16 Common Phrases Grandparents Should Stop Saying to Their Grandkids

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Do you still remember something your grandparents said that made you uncomfortable? As much as we adore our grandparents, their words (even with good intentions) can sometimes hurt our feelings or are plain embarrassing.

If you are a grandparent, using your words mindfully around your grandkids is as crucial as any other relationship. Words hold immense power and shape our kids’ behaviors and perceptions. 

16 Common Phrases Grandparents Should Stop Saying to Their Grandkids

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