Hey everyone! This week’s post was written by my friend and colleague Francesca in the UK. She is the owner and creator of the blog From Pennies to Pounds. She and I started blogging around the same time and write about very similar issues including how to make money, save money, and earn your financial freedom. Since I do not have children, she kindly agreed to write this post about how you can save money on your children. I hope you find it enjoyable and full of useful tips that I may not have otherwise been able to provide!
Children are quite expensive to raise, and can even cause their parents to get into debt or put themselves under a lot of pressure and stress around Christmas time, birthdays, school holidays – when the cost goes up due to presents and trips. There are various ways that you can save money when it comes to your children, which I am happy to share with you in this post. I have a 5 year old daughter so I know what it is like to have a child ask for every single toy they see in a shop or on an advert! You can spend a huge amount of money on your children, but it is not necessary. If their basic needs are met, then you are doing a great job already.
It can be easy to buy your children little gifts all of the time, because it’s so hard to say no to their cute little faces! But what they really want from you and will treasure always, is your time. Instead of a new shiny toy which they will forget all about the next day, they would love nothing more than for you to get down on the floor with them and play a game. I now spend about 50% of my life playing with Barbie’s, and that’s fine with me – because my daughter is always over the moon when I play with her.
All over the world, we spend an unbelievable amount of money on toys – not just at Christmas and for birthdays, but all year round as well. As I mentioned before, children would rather have your time than brand new toys constantly. I’m not saying that you should never buy your children toys – but rather to be aware that they may not need as many as you think, or that you can get some for much cheaper if you shop around. Go to car boot sales/yard sales, charity shops, flea markets, Facebook selling pages, Gumtree, Craigslist, eBay etc. There are some amazing bargains to be found there, and not every toy is second hand, so you may find a brand new one in the box for a fraction of the original cost. Your children are unlikely to care that it’s been used or if it’s not in the packaging. The majority of my daughters birthday presents this year were second hand and she loved them.
If you want to get your child a more expensive toy because you know they will love it and play with it all of the time, ask the grandparents if they would be able to get it for them, or split the cost with you. They will love being able to help and to get their grandchild a present that they will actually enjoy.
Make it your mission to only buy toys that are not full price. If you can’t find anything decent second hand, keep an eye out for toy sales, especially around bank holidays and Christmas time. The best time to shop for Christmas is straight after Christmas! Follow your favourite stores on social media to see when their sales are. Always look for vouchers – there are various voucher code sites, and lots of stores will give you a discount if you sign up for their newsletter.
As your children grow older, go through their old toys and sell any baby ones to get some money in that you could use for some new toys for them.
When you have a baby, don’t buy them loads of items in the smaller sizes, because the chances are that your friends and family will buy you more clothes than your baby is able to wear as they grow so quickly. Even as they grow older, second hand items will be your friend. As previously mentioned, lots of people have too many clothes bought for their child when they are born, so they put them up on eBay or other selling sites when they are brand new or barely worn.
Check yard sales, charity shops, eBay etc for second hand clothes. Even if you are a fan of particular brands, just search for the brands and you will find some second hand for a great price.
In frugal circles, cloth diapers are widely recommended, as they are better for the environment as well as on your wallet. However, if you don’t want to constantly wash dirty diapers then look for a cheap alternative. There are cheap ranges of diapers which are still excellent quality. Ask friends and family if they have any left over diapers from when their children were small – a lot of the time you can have some left over from when you start potty training or if you switched brands.
A day out with the kids can quickly add up to a lot of money if you don’t plan it properly. Look in your area for cheap activities, especially during the school holidays when more things are put on for them.
Some ideas for free or budget friendly days out with the kids are:
- It’s the worlds largest treasure hunt – you use an app on your phone to find caches that are hidden all over the place. Children love doing this!
- Beach day. Take a trip down to the beach and your kids will have a ton of fun for free if you take your buckets and spades, a ball and other sporting equipment. Take a packed lunch with you and you won’t feel the need to buy anything whilst you’re there.
- Museum trip. Look in your local area for museums that have free entry and the kids can have a fun day exploring and learning lots of new information.
- Park trip. Is there anything that kids love more than hanging out in the park all day? It’s a place of such fun and adventure for them – and great exercise too.
When it comes to having children, one expense that you can’t get around is feeding them! But there are some ways that you can keep the costs as low as possible whilst still providing them with high quality, nutritional food.
- When they are babies, breastfeeding will save you an unbelievable amount of money. It’s not for everyone, but if you can do it then I would recommend it. I breastfed my daughter until she was 6 months old and I was horrified at how much the milk started to cost us when I stopped – they drink a lot of milk!
- Make your own baby food. It’s incredibly tempting to reach for the jars of ready-made baby food on the shelf, but it will become very expensive over the long run. There’s nothing wrong with picking some up for convenience but making your own baby food is one of the best ways to save money on food at that age – all you need is a blender.
- Give them the same as you. When you are preparing meals, give your children the same as you and this will prevent you from having to make a bunch of different meals which will prove costly – and doing this will stop you from having a ‘fussy eater’! Make sure you serve their portion before you add things like salt, and you’re good to go.
- If you go out, look for restaurants which have children eating for free. Lots of restaurants offer deals where the kids eat for free when you purchase an adult meal – especially in the holidays.
If you are desperate to get away on vacation (who can blame you?!) then try and go before you have to start paying for your child. Airlines and resorts vary on the age of this, but it’s generally before they are 2 years old because they will need their own seat on the aeroplane after that.
One of the most expensive things that you will come across when you have children…is childcare. I could not believe it when I saw how much the childcare was in my area (I do live in one of the most expensive cities though), and it’s easy to see why mothers do not return to work when their maternity leave is over. There are however, some ways in that you can save money on childcare.
- Ask the grandparents if they are able to have your little one. This is the best option of all because most grandparents will do this for free – saving you hundreds a month. My friends have their parents look after their children, but unfortunately we do not have this luxury as both sets of our parents still work full time hours.
- Check all available childcare in your area and find out the costs of it all. Find out if there are any hidden extras such as having to pay for their lunch.
- You will need to decide if you want to return to work or not. This is a really big decision and should not be made lightly. If you can work around your children being at home, then you will save a lot of money on childcare. That’s what I did – I had my daughter at home with me every day, and then I worked every evening from home. It was exhausting, but I saved myself about $1250 a month from doing this.
I hope you enjoyed this post from Francesca. Please be sure to show her blog some love! She’s really great at what she does and I think she can really help you as well! Also be sure to keep an eye out as I will be sharing a post on her blog in a few weeks!
Please feel free to share on social media and comment below on ways you find you are able to save money with your children!