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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen No. 7 - How much kids cost

According to MSN.com, raising a child from birth to age 17 can cost on average anywhere between 250,000 to 300,000 dollars! Now, that's a lot of money!

Below, I've outlined 13 tips to maximize your cash when it comes to your kids:

1. Disposable Diapers are one of the biggest expenditures when it comes to babies. Check out Cloth Diapers, instead. You pay for them once, and they are yours. It's not nearly as hard as you'd think, either! (Check out my Bath and Diapering section for more on this).

2. Use diaperswappers.com to buy your new cloth diapers. New and gently used diapers (but CLEAN) for sale for a fraction of what you'd pay for them new!

3. Breastfeeding is an obvious money saver, but I won't harp on its goodness (because you already know...that, and not everyone can or wants to)...BUT if you are going to buy a milk-based formula, try the Parent's Choice brand by Walmart. It ranks just as good (read the label) as Similac and Enfamil. My friends and I have compared labels and this brand is just as good...but only $11 or so for a HUGE can.

4. Make your baby's food. You can use food out of your garden (or the farmer's market) when the season is right and frozen veggies and fruit in the winter. Just pop them in the food processor and puree them (I HIGHLY recommend the Magic Bullet for pureeing small amounts (baby sized portions) of food. Plus, you can store the rest in the freezer!

5. Try not to eat out as much. Have one day a week (or every 2 weeks) as your big cooking day - where you cook several huge meals and store them in the freezer...then, when you want them, you just put them out to thaw and warm them up. (OR you can make casseroles but not bake them yet...depending on your recipe and the ingredients).

6. Don't buy designer clothes for baby OR for yourself right after pregnancy brand new. And, stay away from the mall! Hit up consignment stores and sales. There is no reason you should pay top dollar for outfits that you or your little one will only be wearing for a short time. After giving birth to Lorelei, I bought a whole summer wardrobe for under $100 for myself at a local consigment stores (and I bought brands such as AE, Old Navy, Express, Ann Taylor Loft...and tons of others...). Same with babies...you can find great labels that look like they've almost never even been worn - for only a few bucks! If you really want a certain outfit, think of allowing yourself to buy one NEW outfit for baby or for you per season.

7. Don't spend crazy amounts on portraits either. Search for budding new photographers (they are everywhere!) Oftentimes, they'll give you a free session for a trade (their experience). Also, check at colleges for any photography majors or other artsy majors.

8. Make your own fun. Your kids don't need a bazillion toys. Not really. And, half of the toys we buy end up being more for ourselves (esp when the kids are little). So, save your cash and only buy a few really great educational toys. Educational toys don't have to be top dollar or labeled "educational". For example, a large mixing bowl with spoons will fascinate a baby for a really long time. They can make noises, learn to take things OUT of the bowl, and later, learn to put things inside the bowl.

9. Before you buy something, see if someone else is giving it away. Check out Craigslist and Freecycle.

10. For older children, save on toys that are supposed to inspire their imagination. Instead, grab the pillows, blankets, and chairs and make forts and castles. Ask stores (like Walmart, Target, and Lowes) for their large boxes (think refrigerators and such). Take them home and let the kids go at them with markers, paint, scissors, and tape. What kind of things can they make? (Stages, houses, cars, maze, ???)

11. Not buying junkfood can save TONS of money through the years. So, teach your children healthy eating and teach them to cook. Children who cook are more likely to really think about what they are putting in their mouths...especially if they have to cook it.

12. Need something else fun to do? Check out www.geocaching.com and go outside and try it! It's free and totally fun.

13. Instead of buying family vacation packages, think about doing a road trip instead. Or, (since gas prices are climbing), you can visit a neighboring state and visit some really cool things you've never been to before (research your destination BEFORE you go).

Bonus: Only buy your kids new toys (mostly) on their Birthdays and for Christmas (or Hannukah, or whatever you celebrate). Go to the store and make a registry or wishlist so family and friends will know what to buy. Your kids will think long and hard about what they want and how bad they want it when they have to choose what goes on the list....


Kat said...

What a great idea! I take photos and have had several people ask me to do portraits of them. It is a lot cheaper than spending hundreds of dollars elsewhere! Great tips! Mine is uphttp://katskrackerbox.wordpress.com/2008/04/09/thursday-thirteen-35-j/

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I used cloth diapers -- a service, though. I loved the cloth. Loved how it felt. Loved how my kids as infants never had poop blow-outs like they would when I had to use disposables.

I don't think it's any coincidence that #2 potty trained a month after the service closed down.

Happy TT from another Geocaching family!

forgetfulone said...

Your idea about portraits is an awesome one! I would have never thought of that. Great TT!

Jared said...

Very good tips!

I checked out the geocaching site. What a cool idea! I found so many areas/parks/bike paths close to home that I never knew existed. :D

Now I just gotta save up for a GPS. :D

elexisb said...

Depressingly enough, I heard it's around $300,000 withOUT all the extras (sports, school stuff, etc.) and the estimate for a child who does/gets all that stuff is close to ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

Two kids is enough for me! ;)