I’ve read the stories about how much it will cost to raise a child. The latest information I found was from 2013 and that number was $245,000. Of course, having a family is priceless so the cost of raising kids shouldn’t even enter the equation, right? But what if you and your spouse have grand dreams of retiring early? You both want to leave the 9-to-5 behind as soon as possible. How will that dream be affected by having children and raising a family?
For my wife and me, so far it has not impacted us greatly. Granted we only have one child and she is just 7 months old. But we have been smart with our finances while still providing for her needs. Last year, we were able to save over $30,000. This is with my wife not working for 4 months while on maternity leave.
How have we been able to buy things for our daughter and still save money in the hopes that we retire early one day? Below are the things we have done to save money. This list will be changing as our daughter ages and when we add another one into the mix, but some of the tricks we use should continue to work for years to come.
Tricks We Do To Save Money Raising Our Child
This is probably the biggest expense for most first time parents. You get sucked into the cute outfits and buy, buy, buy. We don’t. At first we did. But she grew so fast, 90% of the clothes we bought she outgrew before she could wear. So we learned quickly that it’s just not worth it.
When we do buy clothes, we buy what is on sale or clearance. We also tend to put her in some clothes that are a little too big for her and just roll up the sleeves. You can easily get 3 onesies on clearance for under $10 at most places.
For special occasions, like holidays, we look for a cute dress on clearance. If that doesn’t work, we go to a Mommy Market and find clothes there.
When it comes to food, we have gone the old-fashioned route and breastfeed. My wife also pumps and we freeze anything extra. In fact, our freezer has more milk than any other kind of food!
We just started to try out solids and our plan is to make the food ourselves. We head to the local grocery store that has the lowest prices on produce and buy what is on sale. So far, we have been feeding peas, bananas, sweet potatoes and carrots.
After we buy the food, we steam it, mash it and freeze it. It’s a little more work, but a lot cheaper in the long run. For example, a bag of baby carrots is $0.99 and that gets us 3-4 meals for her.
We were considering cloth diapers before we had our daughter. But the thought of washing them just turned us off so we use disposables. How do we save money on diapers?
First, we comparison shopped. We figured out who had the lowest price for Pampers in our area. It is a grocery store. So we buy them there and always use a coupon. Most times the package of diapers has a coupon inside. We also find coupons in the ads that come in the mail. We combine this with our American Express Blue Cash Card and get 6% cash back at grocery stores.
In some cases, we turn to Target as well. Every so often, we get a magazine from Target in the mail with a $5 or $10 off coupon. We combine this with coupons we get in the mail for Pampers, along with our Target Red Card and get another 5% off.
Just like with clothes, we limit this area of spending too. We have a bunch of toys that she plays with and don’t buy new until she starts to show disinterest in some of them. Then it is off to yard sales, consignment shops or Mommy Markets to find toys in good shape for a low price.
How We Save The Most Money
But there is one thing we do that has helped us really save money. When we had our registry, people bought us a good amount of stuff. We had doubles of some things and singles of other things that we just weren’t going to use.
So we went through everything and really thought about the gifts. Anything we weren’t 100% committed to, we returned. We got store credit and have used this credit strategically over the first couple of months.
For example, we bought a good amount of clothes without spending any of our money. We still stick to the clearance racks, just to stretch the money farther.
We also opened a credit card at Babies R Us where our registry was. It allowed us to get our daughter’s crib and dresser for 50% off. How did we do this? We used the discount we got from completing our registry, plus the discount for opening up the credit card, plus the discount for using the card on a certain day of the week.
Lastly, we take advantage of coupons. There is a Buy Buy Baby near us, which I didn’t know about. I also didn’t know you could use the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons there since they are owned by the same company. That is where we bought her car seat and were able to save 20%.
The costs for raising a child are significant. But if you are smart about things, you can save money so that you can still reach your goals, no matter what they may be. For us, the goal is still early retirement. But not for the same reasons as before.
Now we want to retire early so that we can be around for our daughter and any future children. We don’t want to be stuck behind a computer screen until 9pm and miss out on our child’s life. After all, they are only young once.
Jon blogs at Money Smart Guides, a personal finance site that helps readers pay off debt and start investing for their future.
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