For many people, having a child is one of the most important accomplishments of their lives. Children provide a special bond, give parents a sense of pride, and allow family names to live on for years.
Most parents would do anything for their kids and want the best for them. Unfortunately, providing the best for children can become challenging from a financial standpoint. Clothes, food, and education all require consideration when thinking about a family budget.
These expenses shouldn’t dissuade you from wanting to give your kids all you can, but they should give you a polite push to get creative with savings. There are plenty of ways you can fully provide for your child, prepare them for adulthood, and not break the bank in the process.
Whether you are planning to have children or they are already part of your life, consider the following suggestions on cutting your expenses. Your wallet and your kids will thank you.
Cut Vehicle Costs
For the first 16 years of a child’s life, you will be their chauffeur. From school to sleepovers to sporting events, your car and driving abilities will be their means of transportation. This can be expensive, but there are ways to help.
Since you will likely be putting plenty of miles on your car, you want something that is going to be fuel efficient to help cut down on the cost of gas. Shop around for a vehicle that provides good gas mileage, both in town and on the highway, or even look into a hybrid model.
While there might be an upfront cost to purchasing a different car, it could save you money in the long run. You will need a vehicle either way, so having one that runs more efficiently can save you money.
New costs occur once your children get their own driver’s license. They will need a car (which you may or may not help pay for), but they will also need insurance. One of the biggest questions becomes, “How much is car insurance for new drivers?”
It is an important question to think about, but the answers vary. The best thing you can do is to make sure you shop around for the best deal. Look for the policy that has all the coverage you need but doesn’t break the bank. Understand that your annual mileage affects your cost and remember that the first option is not always the best.
Save Early for Education
It is easy to put off the idea of college expenses until your kids are in high school, but that is not the best option in the spirit of saving money. Loans are always an option, but they can weigh you or your kids down for years to come.
Your better option is to start saving early for your kid’s future. There are plenty of investment and savings accounts that are specifically geared toward education. A financial professional, or lots of research on your own, can help you select the right one.
Savings can still accumulate, however, even without a specific education account. Making a small to modest contribution from the time your child is born on a weekly or monthly basis can yield a significant amount of money by the time tuition payments come along.
Another easy way to save is to see if your child qualifies for a good student discount on your car insurance policy. If they do, you’ll be able to save quite a bit annually which you can add to an education savings account.
Even if your savings end up smaller than you hope, any amount will help take some pressure off your kids. The money you save can pay for several semesters worth of textbooks or go toward their tuition fee. Either way, it is a way to help relieve the heavy burden college costs can have.
You might be asking, “What if my child decides not to go to college?”
I would respond by saying that you have the flexibility to do whatever you want with your savings if your child doesn’t go to college. You can still give them the money to help start them off in adult life, or you can put it toward another purpose. Having money saved is never a bad thing; it gives you options.
Shop in Bulk
There are certain expenses that are just for one individual. Things like shoes, backpacks, or sports equipment are less frequent purchases and only for one specific child at a time, so you will have a more difficult time saving money in those areas.
On the other hand, when you look at items like food, toiletries, or school and office supplies, you might be able to find room for savings. These are products that are used by multiple family members, whether they be adults or other kids, so it could be beneficial to buy them in a larger quantity.
Many items are more cost efficient when purchased in bulk. That is, the price per item is lower when purchased in larger amounts. Wholesale clubs are well known for their discount prices on bulk purchases, but other stores also frequently offer value packs for a lower price per item.
Your initial purchase price might be higher than normal but you will save money over the long haul. This helps you cut down on household expenses so your money can be spent or saved elsewhere.
Passing items down through different friends or family members can be sensitive. As your kids grow older, they will likely start to develop their own identity and will be less open to the idea of wearing clothes or using items that belonged to another family member.
It is a different story, however, when kids are younger and their individualism is less prominent in regard to hand-me-downs. Provided that they are in good condition, things like clothes, shoes, or toys can be used by more than one of your children until they become older.
Early childhood can be a challenging financial time for parents. They have to newly adjust or re-adjust to spending more on specific food, formula, diapers, and all kinds of other things. Early years are an ideal time for hand-me-downs because they help take away some of the newly found financial pressure parents experience.
Familial Financial Freedom
Children are often the means by which parents measure their success. If a mother and father are able to give their kids a life full of opportunities, as well as prepare them for a bright future, it is considered a victory.
Unexpected expenses come up for everyone, but families may experience this at a more elevated level. By being aware of potential expenses and how to combat them, however, you can provide the type of life you want for your kids without worrying over every penny.
Dan Chojnacki writes and researches for TheTruthAboutInsurance.com. He holds a degree in business administration and economics from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay and is currently a financial professional in Green Bay.