It costs approximately a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child in the US for a middle-class family — not including college — so if there were ways that you could save money, wouldn't you want to?
From the best time to buy a new car to a solution to keeping your brown sugar from hardening, we've got you covered! There's even a trick for what to do with your milk that's about to expire.
Make Saving Money A Competition
Did you know if you fill a two liter bottle with dimes, it totals more than $500? Challenge your kids to see if you can fill that bottle up as a family, then you can choose what to spend it on. It teaches them how to save, and also about the feeling of spending money that you worked hard to earn.
Don't Cry Over Spoiled Milk
If your milk is about to expire and you don't feel like loading up on calcium, freeze it! If you freeze it in an ice cube tray it can be ready to toss into your coffee the next week. You can even add a little flavoring if you want to get real fancy.
Keep It Sweet
If you store brown sugar in a container with a couple of marshmallows or a piece of bread on top, it'll keep the sugar from hardening so you won't have to buy it as frequently.
Don't Waste Your Money To Get Money
Avoid using third-party ATMs. A $2 or $3 fee may not seem like that much to use an ATM that's not related to your bank, but if you're doing that a couple of times a week that's $8 or $10 that you could be spending elsewhere.
Buy Some Gender Neutral Baby Clothes
Also, when it comes to baby clothes, if you're planning on having a second or third child, try buying non-gender specific clothing for your first child! Obviously, if you have a little girl you want to dress her up in cute pink tutus, but also buy some onesies or outfits in other colors like yellow, green, blue, etc. that you could reuse in the future years if you have more children.
Your Kids Won't Notice If It's Brand New Or Not
Much like clothing, you can reuse a lot of products if you're planning on having multiple children. We promise your son won't notice if he uses the same blanket as your daughter did before him, or the same toys. Save the money to spend elsewhere and reuse anything you can.
Dryer Balls Are Better
Instead of buying single-use dryer sheets, use balls of wool. They reduce static, keep your clothes just as soft as a dryer sheet, and they're easier on your wallet (and the environment!)
Spend Money, Make Money
If you're someone who does a lot of shopping online (which is basically everyone because it's the 21st century), use a cash back website like Ebates, especially for your Christmas shopping. You get money back on products that you were going to buy anyways, so you have no reason not to.
Thrift Stores Are Your Friend
Thrift stores can be a great place to buy basic clothing items like tshirts or jeans, but they're also a place to find appliances. If your coffee maker breaks, before you rush to Target to buy a new one, check out a few thrift stores to see if you can find a gently-used one for a third of the price.
Don't Run On Dunkin
For Pete's sake, buy a coffee maker if you haven't already. Buy yourself a travel mug and bring your coffee to work from home. It's okay to buy a coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin for an afternoon pick me up, but don't rely on it every morning.
Ask Your Friends For Hand-Me-Downs
Ask your friends for their kid's hand-me-downs. If they've had kids and they aren't planning to have any more, they'll definitely be willing to give you their kids' old clothes. It's a win-win situation. You get free clothes and they get more storage space in the basement.
What, You Think You're Better Than Me?
You're never too good for coupons. No matter how much money you have, if you could save money with a coupon why wouldn't you? You don't have to go full-on Extreme Couponing mode, but check the newspaper, check online, and check on top of other products you're buying.
Free Is Still Fun
Your kids don't care how much money you spend to entertain them for an afternoon — in fact, they have no idea. Take them to every free activity your city has to offer, whether that's an event run through the library or a city-wide event at the park. They'll be none the wiser, and thoroughly entertained.
Buy Presents In January
You don't need to wait until it's someone's birthday or it's Christmas time to buy your presents. Toys go on sale every January. Take that opportunity to make a stockpile to use as presents for all the birthday parties that your son will inevitably forget to tell you about until two days before.
Collect Those Points
If a store that you frequent has a rewards program that's free, sign up for it. Whether it's CVS, Target, Starbucks, Kohl's, you're there and you're giving them your money, so make sure to get a little something back for it.
Pump The Brakes
Avoid buying gas at a rest stop right off the highway. If you know you've got a long drive ahead of you, fill up close to your house. Prices at gas stations close to the highway or just off the highway are more expensive because they know customers will pay for it out of convenience and necessity.
Plan Around Sales
If you're someone who plans out your meals for the weeks, plan your meals based on the products that are on sale that week, rather than just buying the groceries for the meals you want.
Ready Made Isn't Easier On Your Wallet
Stop buying all those 'on the go' products like baby food pouches or pre-shredded carrots and cheese. They make your life slightly easier, sure, but buying a bag of shredded carrots costs a couple of dollars more than just buying a bag of carrots and shredding them yourself. If you have the time, save the money.
The 30-Day Rule
When possible, wait 30 days before you make any big financial decisions. If your refrigerator breaks down you don't have the luxury of being able to wait a month, but for things like buying new clothing or a new TV that are 'non-essentials', wait 30 days and think about it.
Cloth diapers are the true MVPs. It may seem gross to you but they're really not any grosser than regular diapers, and they're way less expensive. It's a little bit of extra laundry each week, but even with the water bottle, it's still better than disposable diapers.
It's All About Timing
Wait until the end of the month to make large purchases like buying a new car or a TV or a washing machine. Salespeople have monthly quotas to hit and they're more likely to give you a good deal at the end of the month in order to close the sale.
Avoid March Break Vacations
If you have children that are still too young to be in school, plan a vacation during the off-season. Go to Disney World in January instead of on March Break, or go on that cruise in September while everyone else goes back to school. You'll get a much better deal.
Meal Prep For Days
It seems like a big undertaking, but meal prepping will do wonders in your life. If you block out a couple of hours every Sunday to make dinners, snacks for the kids, or lunches for the week, it'll stop you from ordering pizza on Thursday because you're too tired to think of what to make for dinner.
Another way to limit your grocery store spending is to not even go to the grocery store. Make a list of what you need, go online to order it all then pick it up when it's ready. You won't even have to think about those Oreos that are in aisle 6.
Be Selective About Your TV
If you have cable television plus Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, that's going to add up real quick. See if you can eliminate even one of those a year. That could save you $150 with minimal effort.
Pick The Right Credit Card And Bank Account
Choosing a bank account or credit card that actually benefits you can make a big difference. Is a cash back credit card better for you personally than a travel points card? Do you need to be paying for your checking account or can you downgrade to one with a less expensive monthly fee?
Pack Lunches The Night Before
When you're cleaning up after dinner, make lunches for the next day at the same time. This way it won't matter if you're running late the next day because the lunches are made already! It'll stop you from giving the kids lunch money, or from having to go out yourself because you ran out of time.
Minimize Transportation Costs
Carpool to work, whether it's with a coworker or your spouse, or take public transportation. Just because you have a car doesn't mean you have to drive it, or if you and your spouse drive separately to work, see if there's a way that you could go together. Maybe that means you leave half an hour earlier to drop your wife off at work first, or maybe you stay a little later so she can pick you up. You can make it work!
Whenever you can, you should buy in bulk. If there's a sale on toothpaste, deodorant, cans of soup, or really anything you know won't go bad, save the money and stock up.
Always Ask To Waive The Fees
When you sign up for any service like cable TV or a new phone plan, ask if they'll waive the fees. A lot of the time, sales reps have the ability to waive them, but they can't be the ones to offer that deal to you, so shoot your shot and ask. See what happens!
Ask For Formula And You Might Receive
If your child is still on formula, ask your pediatrician for samples the next time you're at the doctor's office. The worst they'll say is they don't have any, but there's a good chance they'll have some lying around to give out to patients.
Don't Go Overboard Decorating Your Child's First Bedroom
Your baby is not going to care about whether or not their room looks like a Pinterest photo when they're 14 months old. Stick to the necessities, paint the room a fun color, but don't go overboard on decorating your kid's bedroom. Wait until they're a little older and can tell you what they like.
Invest In Furniture That Has More Than One Purpose
Save space as well as money by buying furniture that serves more than one purpose. Invest in a dresser that is also a changing table, optimizing the space you have and the furniture you're spending your money on.
Track Your Spending
Once a week or even once a month, sit down and go through your receipts and bank statements. Hiding from your money habits isn't going to help you understand where your money is going. Once you know how you're spending your money each month, you can know how to make adjustments.
Set Up The Bank To Save Money For You Automatically
Most major banks have savings options that you can set up where every time you use your debit or credit card, your account automatically moves a designated amount into a savings account. If you're not good at prioritizing that yourself, this could be a good solution.
Sign Up For Coupons On Every Child-Related Site You Come Across
Your inbox might be flooded with newsletters and promotions so you could consider signing up with a junk email, but the more you sign up for, the more chances you have at getting sent some great deals or coupons that will help you save in the long run.
Stock Up On Diapers Before Your Baby Is Even Born
If you're in a store and see that there's a sale happening on diapers, you should always take the opportunity to stock up—even if you're only a few months pregnant. There's never going to be a time when you regret having "too many" diapers, plus its' not like they expire.
Make Your Own Baby Food
It's not complicated to make a fruit or vegetable puree for your baby. Skip the baby food aisle, buy produce as your normally would, then grab yourself a blender. Puree your sweet potatoes or peas or apples, then store them in Tupperware until the next time your baby is hungry.
Check If Your Insurance Will Cover Products For You
Before you go out to buy every product under the sun at Target, double check your insurance policy. Some products like breast pumps could be covered by your insurance company, partially or fully covered, so you can spend that money elsewhere.
Facebook Parenting Groups Are A Great Place To Get Free Stuff
Beyond asking your friends and family for hand-me-down clothes or products, you can also turn to Facebook. There are tons of groups where parents are giving away old products for a discounted price or even for free because they don't need it anymore and they know some other parent does.