How to Raise Your Kid For Half the Cost

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Did you know that the average cost for raising a child is now at $233,610? And this number only reflects raising them. It doesn’t include medical bills incurred from the birth, and it certainly doesn’t include college expenses! In fact, this number only reflects the money spent between infancy and 17. So how can you raise your kid for half the cost?

This post has been written by our fabulous staff writer, Kimberly Studdard.

How to Raise Your Kid For Half the Cost

To raise your kid for half the cost, you’ve got to start planning today. It’s not just going to happen by accident. Check out the list below and add savings ideas wherever you can! By implementing these ideas all throughout their lives, you’ll find that raising kids is far less expensive than everyone claims it is!

how to raise your child for half the costBirth to Age 5

So, if we don’t factor in the costs of birth, just raising a child to the age of 5 will supposedly cost around $14,000 a year, or $70,000. So, this time is perfect to implement this ‘raise your kid for half the cost’ theory!

Diapers

Want to know the easiest way to save on diapers? Use cloth! Cloth diapers are more of an investment upfront ($80-$200 cost up front), but could save you thousands just in the first year alone. Even if you factor in washing clothes (assuming you have a washer and dryer), you’re only spending an extra few dollars a year for cloth diapers.

Possible Savings: At least $2,000 in 3 years.

Food

Now, I fed my daughter with formula after 8 weeks of pumping, so I don’t have an opinion on the breast fed vs. bottle fed argument. However, breastfeeding IS cheaper. If you use formula, look for formula coupons, ask for containers of formula from your baby’s doctor, or even ask for it during your baby shower.

Once your child can eat solid food, I suggest making their food from scratch. My route? Throw a bunch of in season fruits and veggies into a blender and blend. From there, I added it to an ice cube tray and froze until it was time to eat. When your child can actually sit at the dinner table, feed them what you eat! The best way to raise a non-picky eater is to introduce them to all types of food. Plus, that saves you money since you don’t have to buy separate meals.

Possible Savings: Around $1,800 in the first year. $500/year after that

Gear

No matter what anyone tells you, your baby needs minimal gear. A crib (or bassinet) and a car seat are really the only two items that your baby needs for at least a year. However, I do recommend at least a swing or bouncer, and a baby carrier that you can strap to your chest for trips to the store or outings.

You can save even more by buying used or asking for these items at your baby shower. Great places to look for used gear is Facebook groups, kids consignment shops, and places like Goodwill or Salvation army. Just remember to check and make sure that the car seat you buy hasn’t been in an accident, and that the crib follows crib guidelines.

Possible Savings: $4,000 in the first year.

Clothing

Clothes are so expensive when your kid grows every few weeks! To save on costs, ask for clothes at your baby shower, thrift shop, and keep things simple. Your child doesn’t need a million outfits. In fact, kids can benefit from a capsule wardrobe too!

Possible Savings: $1,000 in five years.

Toys

I believe kids need toys. When a toy is educational or at least stimulates the brain (think Legos or blocks) a child can use their imagination and build cognitive skills. However, I don’t believe in toys costing a small fortune. Toys for my daughter have been gifts from family or found at the thrift store/clearance racks.

Possible Savings: $200/year.

Daycare Expenses

My husband and I never paid for daycare. Instead, we worked separate shifts. Me during the day, and him at night. However, if you have to pay for daycare, look into in home daycares, or a nanny that will come to your home. You can also get tax credits for this, so remember to mention it when you file taxes!

Possible Savings: $7,000/year

Get Help If Needed

Even with cutting costs in these areas, some families may still need help, and that’s okay. To save on costs, ask for help by applying for medicaid, WIC, and any other local programs you may have in your area. If you qualify, you can save money and be able to provide your child proper nutrition, health care, and even childcare.

Age 6 to Age 13

Along with taking the advice from previous years, the ages of 6-13 bring a few new challenges. But there are still so many ways to save money and raise your kid for half the cost.

School

Sending your kids to school can get expensive. Between lunches, and school activities, plus sports, many parents can spend upwards of $2,500 during the school year. That’s almost $30,000 just from 1st grade to 12th grade. To cut costs, give your child the opportunity to join one school activity every year vs. multiple ones, make their lunch vs. letting them buy them, and buy school supplies during sales or from places like the Dollar Tree.

Possible Savings: $1,000/year

Related: 21 Things I Always Get From the Dollar Tree

Food

Once your child starts getting older, it can be a little harder to save money on groceries. They are eating more, eating more often, and may even need extra snacks throughout the day due to sports or activities. So how do you save? Buy in bulk, buy items on sale, and buy food that keeps kids full (like bananas and eggs).

Possible Savings: $300+/year

Birthdays & Holidays

When they’re babies, it’s a lot easier to shop and surprise kids with gifts. But as they get older, they ask for more and parents tend to spend more on birthdays and holidays. It doesn’t have to be that way!

For the holidays you can follow the 4 gift rule, or a variation of it. For birthdays, make it casual but still fun. Decorate your backyard, have a cake and some fun foods like hot dogs and mac and cheese (bonus: these items are cheap) and call it a day! Your kids won’t remember how much you spent, but they will remember the memories of celebrating.

Possible Savings: $500+/year

Age 14 to Age 18

That’s right, I’m taking this to age 18. Most children stay home until the age of 18, so why a study would only go to age 17 is beyond me. You could probably raise your kid for half the cost or even more during these ages. Again, you are still implementing savings techniques from previous years, but let’s take it a few steps further.

Activities

Prom! School games! Outings with friends! Boy do teenagers do a lot of costly activities! The best way to save money on this? Have your kid get a part-time job, or offer them an allowance and once that money is gone, it’s gone. Instead of spending $50+ a week in activities, your child can only do what “their” money will pay for. They’ll learn the value of a dollar, and you can keep more money in your pocket.

Possible Savings: $1,000/year

Car Costs

Since when did it become mandatory for a 16 year old to have a car? Sure, I had a car at that age, but I paid for it myself (along with the costs of upkeep). If you can’t afford a car for your child, that’s okay. That’s what the school buses are for. If they want to go somewhere, they can ask for a ride from you, or from friends who have their own vehicles.

If you do want to buy your child a car, there is nothing wrong with a used and reliable car. Set ground rules, have a contract in place, and then hand the keys over. Also, DON’T get into debt to get your child a car. Again, it’s not a necessity, no matter how much your teenager says it is.

Possible Savings: $4,500 in the first year (assuming buying a used car). $1,000+/year after that.

College

Many parents and their children start preparing for college as soon as the child turns 16 or 17. To keep your child (or yourself) from spending a ton of money down the road on school, preparing early is best.

Have your child apply for scholarships. Make sure they keep their grades up, and also participate in extracurricular activities. Save a few dollars every week to help with the costs of supplies for the dorms, textbooks, and food. This could all make the world of a difference for you, and your child.

Possible Savings: $30,000+/year.

Total Savings

Alright, so THAT was a TON of savings! Approximately how much could you save by implementing the above ideas? Let’s tally it up!

  • Cloth Diapers = $2,000
  • Breastfeeding + Homemade Foods = $2,800
  • Minimal Baby Gear = $4,000
  • Clothing = $1,000
  • Toys = $1,000
  • Daycare = $35,000
  • School Activities = $13,000
  • Bulk Food = $3,900
  • Birthdays and Holidays = $6,000
  • High School Activities = $5,000
  • Car = $8,500
  • College (1st year) = $30,000
  • Total Savings: $112,200!

BOOM!! That’s $112,200 saved out of a “supposed” $233,000 average cost of raising a kid.

Yes, it can be expensive to raise a child. But you can raise your kids for half the cost just by making a few tweaks in your lifestyle and mindset. No matter what your friends tell you, kids don’t have to cost you a small fortune.

It’s time to raise your kid for half the cost. Are you on board with the ideas above??

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4 comments to How to Raise Your Kid For Half the Cost

  • These are some phenominal tips to help save on the cost of raising kids. One I would add is yard sales, yard sales, and more yard sales. They really can help save a king’s fortune on raising kids over the years!

    • Good point. And for us, FAMILY! Liz and I are both the youngest in our families, so we say, “Bring on the hand-me-downs!” I think we’ve MAYBE spent $1,000 on Addilyn so far. The $230k estimates to raise a child are ridiculous. In fact, sometimes I think they’re just made up to give broke people something to blame for being broke other than themselves…

  • WTD

    Don’t agree with the cost estimates above. When my 2 kids were growing up I was aware of these types of several hundred thousand dollar estimates of kids costs. These are absolutely worst case scenarios. I estimate that between my 2 kids we spent maybe $150,000 extra tops and that was living quite well including private religous schools for 12 years each. To be more specific,, we virtually eliminated child care by watching the kids ourselves, high school activities and a car? forget it , they paid for by working. Most of the costs like shelter, car utilities are sunk costs that would be incurred by a couple anyway. With a little extra foresight and by cutting out private schools , I would have probably cut out another $#75,000. The main childhood expense is college. If the kid pays for it it is a moot point.

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