Are you going to have a baby or already have one and are planning another? Here are some ways you can save money with kids!
Everyone says children are expensive. While you can’t avoid spending any money on children, there are many ways you can save a lot of money, but you might need to think a little bit outside the box and perhaps go against the cultural norms (“You must have and do this with your baby!”).
Here are some ideas for saving in the biggest spending categories when you have children (many of which I have used with my two girls, ages 4 and 2).
Newborn and baby items
Swings, strollers, baby carriers, diaper bags, etc.
1. Buy used
You can buy swings, strollers, baby wraps, and large toys used. I’ve bought items from garage sales, Craigslist, OfferUp. You can even check out local consignment shops or thrift shops.
One thing that you should never buy used is a car seat (unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s never been in an accident and isn’t expired). Car seats can be inexpensive when you look for deals (I bought ours during Black Friday sales) and make use of coupons or trade-ins (Target is one store that accepts trade-ins for a discount).
2. Resell when finished
If you resell baby items when you’re finished, then the item is cheap or even free! (If I bought it used for $30 and sell it again for $30, then it was free!)
3. Borrow from a friend
I’ve borrowed several items from friends. This is especially helpful for baby and infant items since babies grow so fast (and some of these items are so expensive!). I borrowed a swing for my 2nd baby and it helped for several months until she (quickly!) outgrew it.
4. Assess whether you really need it
One example is a stroller. If you wear your baby, you might not need a stroller. You can also save money by only getting car seats for one car (and using that car when you take your baby out).
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on toys for your children.
1. Limit the amount
Newborns and infants don’t need a lot of toys. Older children also don’t need lots of toys, despite what advertising will tell you. Actually, the fewer toys they have (especially electronic items) the more creative they will be. A scientific study suggests that the quality of play and the creativity of children increased with fewer toys.
My girls’ dad grew up in India and had very few toys (only 1 or 2 actual toys). He spent large amounts of time outdoors playing, digging, exploring and talks highly and fondly of his childhood days without a sense of deprivation. His family (and neighborhood) didn’t even have a TV until he was about 10 (a fact that shocked my 3-year-old!).
2. Borrow toys from friends or neighbors
Have you ever bought your child something they really wanted only to discover that they play with it initially but discard it to the corner after a few days?
We visit grandma (my mom) about once a month and my daughter loves going there and playing with the toys she has at her house. She sees the toys only once a month and they are so exciting to her.
Often I take toys from our house to leave at my mom’s so my daughter can see these “new” toys. You can save a lot of money this way.
3. Toy swaps or shares
One of my friends and I frequently swap toys to share. Our kids get to use and enjoy each toy but we save money by not having to buy 2 of each (and our daughters learn to share).
4. Join a local FreeCycle or Buy Nothing group
These groups are local resources for giving away (and receiving!) free items. I belong to my local Buy Nothing group and have received (and given away) lots of toys (and clothes and other household items). I love this method of recycling and reusing items (for free!).
1. Visit places that are free.
Many libraries, parks, and museums offer free admission on certain days. You can also often get free passes through your local library or community center.
Personally, we LOVE going to the library. My daughter could have me read books for hours there. You can rent movies, books on tape, and even activity boxes to take home and play and learn more.
Our library also has free “Story Times” for different age groups where the librarian will read books and sing songs and dance with the children. There are often craft or art activities offered and even free classes for older children and teens.
2. Look for free lessons
Before signing up your child for lessons or activities (sports or gymnastics or art classes) see if they offer a free trial lesson first (or allow you to observe a class with your child). This way you can make sure that your child enjoys the activity and you’ll get your money’s worth out of it.
1. Buy used (and resell)
Babies change sizes almost overnight and little children nearly as fast. Since children outgrow items quickly, I always shop for second-hand clothes instead of spending money on brand new outfits that will last a few months. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy old-looking and worn-out clothes. You can find baby and infant clothes in great condition (because they’ve barely been worn) and that have lots of life left.
Some great places to find cheap used clothes:
- local garage sales
- thrift shops
You can often buy a large lot of clothes (for example, 50 items ranging from 0-6 months sizes) for very cheap. After your children outgrow these items, you can resell (individually or as a lot) to save even more money.
I’ve had some items that my daughters have barely worn for 3 or 4 times that are still in excellent condition when they’ve outgrown them. When my 3-year-old outgrows items I save a few for her younger sister and either regift or sell the rest.
One of my Indian friends has older girls and she generously gifts my girls items they’ve outgrown (especially pretty party dresses and ethnic Indian outfits).
In fact, I don’t think I’ve even bought one fancy dress for my girls since we’ve been gifted so many (and they wear them daily!).
If you don’t know anyone to gift you hand me downs – organize a children’s clothing swap through a mom’s or church group: get a bunch of moms together, bring clothes the kids have outgrown and swap! Things get reused and you save money.
Items you need monthly
(Wipes, diapers, lotions, etc.)
1. Use cloth or natural items
You can save quite a bit of money by using cloth diapers and cloth wipes. These items can be reused many times (and for younger siblings as well) to get full use out of them.
I use coconut oil as a natural lotion. (I’ve also saved money on diapers by practicing a method of infant pottying called Elimination Communication. For more info, see here.
2. Buy in bulk
Diapers, wipes, and other items can be bought in bulk to save money. Instead of buying small packages, estimate how much you might need for the next few months and buy a large box.
3. Subscribe and save
If you know that you’ll need an item again every few weeks for a while, you can buy on Amazon and use the “Subscribe and Save” feature which offers a discount for repeated, scheduled orders.
1. Meal plan
This is the biggest way to save money. If you plan out your meals ahead of time then you can strategically shop and save money by buying only food that you’ll eat (and you won’t throw away or waste it).
Related: Meal planning made easy!
2. Buy in bulk
After you try planning your meals for a while, then you’ll know what items you frequently use and can buy these items in bulk.
3. Join a warehouse
If you have a large family and use a large number of items, it might benefit you to join a warehouse (like Costco, for example). There are membership fees so you need to figure out if paying the fees would be worth the savings for your family.
4. Food rescue
This may be harder to find, but in our area, there are some local food rescue programs where they give away expired (or almost expired) food items or food that hasn’t been selling well (maybe unusual or unpopular food items). I’ve gone to these places and found things that we could use (you do have to be careful and picky, but you can still find things.)
1. Cut it yourself
This sounds overwhelming, but with small children, cutting hair is really easy (getting them to sit still for it is another matter!). For boys, you can use a razor set to cut hair and for girls, you can trim bangs and the length with patience and a careful eye. Ask a hairdresser for tips or view some YouTube videos.
2. Go to a local beauty school
My sister attended beauty school when she was younger. She said that the students need lots of models for practice and they cut hair under the guidance and supervision of a trained professional so you don’t have to worry about a horrible haircut (and if it isn’t perfect it grows!). Since they’re students they don’t charge as much for a haircut as a regular salon.
3. Swap a skill
If you know someone who cuts hair, you can offer to do a service for them in exchange. (This works well for saving money on all sorts of things. You can swap skills with a friend who is good at something that you aren’t and save money.)
Children are a joy and a blessing and you don’t need to spend tons of money on them. You can save a lot of money by following some of these tips. I would love to hear of other ways that you’ve saved money.