Part of being a parent is setting boundaries and rules, and among the most important is the family budget. There are an endless number of expenses to factor in -- everything from vacations to gifts to emergencies, not to mention college and weddings. The cost of raising a child just to age 18 totals more than $245,000, according to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Here are 50 tips to help tighten the budget and keep money worries to a minimum.
Chances are, between you and your friends who are also parents, there's more than enough stuff to get by. When you finish with one size of clothing, pass it on, and turn to friends for what's needed at the next stage.
There are emotional, physical, financial, and nutritional perks to breastfeeding, even if only for a few days or weeks.
Sure, that tricycle with the big pink bow and Minnie Mouse horn is adorable, but if she isn't going to use it anytime soon, it may get lost in the mix or turn out to be something she doesn't want by the time she is old enough to use it.
Mash up the same food the rest of the family is already eating (taking into account developmentally appropriate foods). Pre-made baby food costs much more than it takes to make the same food at home.
If there is a chance of having another child down the road, save everything the first child grows out of. Buy gender-neutral toys and clothing and reuse big items.
Debt will only continue to pile up with unbudgeted purchases, so avoid them at all costs. If the kids don't need something right away, put it on the back burner until you can afford it.
Doctor visits and treatments get expensive. Prioritize preventive care to help keep health costs low.<
If local schools aren't up to par, parents may feel compelled to pay for extra, challenging programs or even for an expensive private school (both of which also could require more time-draining transportation).
Consider enrolling each child in only one activity each season or session. Extracurriculars, with the exception of some school activities, add up quickly. Set a budget and explain what it takes to stay within it.
Most districts offer this service for free, so save gas money and put it toward something else.
The fewer the dishes, the less detergent and water the household will go through.
Playing ball or other active games in the house is likely to break or damage furniture and other expensive items. Send the kids outside or redirect their energy into something else.