No matter how “ready” you feel to become a parent, once it happens, you realize there is no amount of preparation to adequately brace you for the total life transformation that comes with a little one. That includes the wonder and love that suddenly fills your soul from here on out, as well as the gut-wrenching moments of emotional struggle that inevitably end with a firm resolve to keep going.
And it also includes the huge financial burden and responsibility of raising a child. It's a difficult path to navigate. We've collected some of the most tried-and-true money-saving strategies for parents to give you a clearer direction in your family's financial journey.
With bigger purchases—such as technology or a car—there are plenty of ways to save if you have a little patience, do a little research, and check out all possible options. You might be surprised at how inexpensive it could be to buy gently used items or to wait for good deals to come around. Use a free tool to find the best deals for your online purchases.
All of that said, some things are worth paying full price for. Certain items—like furniture or some tech devices—will be easier on your pocketbook in the long run if you get the quality of brand new, instead of buying second hand and having to pay for a bunch of repairs or a replacement.
Invest in yourself
If you've been wanting to go back to school, take an online course, or get certified in something, maybe now is the time to do it. Sometimes investing a little time and money in yourself can pay off tremendously. Of course, assess your current budget and the costs, see if you can get help to pay for your education, and calculate the added income you could generate as a result of that education. Much of the time, it will be well worth it. Not only in dollars but also in the satisfaction of working for and achieving a goal.
Plan healthy meals around grocery deals
A little meal and grocery planning can go a long way. Really, add up all the money you spend eating out each month. If you're not already intentionally tackling this habit, you're likely spending much more on food than you need to. Take a look at the deals going on at your local grocery store and plan your weekly meals around the items on sale. And remember, eating healthy, whole foods generally takes less of a toll on your finances, as well.
Speaking of real food, what are you feeding your kids? To reduce spending on baby food, try making your own, or give baby-led weaning a try—both approaches give you more surety of what you're giving your child, too. When it comes to formula, it can also be difficult to feel certain about the ingredients many brands use. Consider organic infant formulas with clean, simple ingredients, so you always know exactly what you're giving your baby (and for a reasonable price, too).
Strike a work-life balance
With today's technology, many parents work from home or are taking up remote side hustles to make ends meet. (And, of course, due to the current pandemic, most of us are working from home right now, even if that's not normally the case.) Whatever your circumstances, the ability to be productive and earn an income while actively parenting at home has become a necessary skill in today's world.
There are plenty of hacks to give you a boost in this department: stick to a daily routine, accomplish as much as possible while kids are asleep, and set up independent activities to keep them busy during work hours. And when it's time to clock out, have the discipline to put the work away and really be present with your kids. If they have the assurance that you'll make time for them, maybe they won't be as starved for your attention the next time you're on a Zoom meeting.
Make meaningful family memories
Meaningful being the keyword—because, remember, to make a meaningful memory, you don't have to spend much money. In fact, you don't have to spend any money, if you put in a little intention and creativity. Have a family brainstorm and figure out what sounds fun to everyone. You can take it outdoors to a splash pad, a picnic, or a mountain trail. Or you can have some fun at home doing a puzzle, having a cook-off, or building a fort.
It's amazing the things you can make at home with common household ingredients or items. For instance, did you know hydrogen peroxide makes a terrific cleaner? Add some essential oils, and you'll have your place sparkling and smelling fresh without having to buy expensive name-brand products. There are plenty of ideas to ease parenting with do-it-yourself hacks, too.
Related Article: Learn How To Make Your Own DIY Travel Activity Kits For Your Kids!
Budget and save
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, keep a regular budget to track all your incomings and outgoings. Set financial goals—like paying off your credit card or saving for a vacation—and then make plans to get there. And always set aside a percentage of your earnings to save for retirement and an emergency fund. You'll be so thankful you have it to fall back on when tough times hit.