Guest Post: This article was written by Ella Davidson of Coupons.org. www.Coupons.org strives to provide consumers with the best savings options and information. Their work has appeared on notable financial news channel, CNBC.
There may be no challenge more difficult or more frequently experienced than raising a child on a tight budget. As insurmountable as the task may sometimes seem, families have been finding a way to give their children the good life without breaking the bank since the dawn of recorded history. There are as many ways to raise a child as there are children, but at the end of the day, the secret to raising a child comfortably without going into debt is cutting costs without cutting essentials and finding good substitutes for the products and necessities that cost parents a lot of money.
One perfect example of this philosophy is baby food. So called “Premium” baby foods, like those made by Gerber or Carnation Baby, may come premade, but compared to the price of the actual ingredients, store bought baby food costs a fortune. Using a simple blender and household foods like bananas, apples, peaches and carrots, parents looking to save a buck while providing their children food with fewer preservatives and chemicals can go the homemade route. Parents not satisfied with a regular blender can also invest in inexpensive equipment like a hand-turned food mill.
Similarly, parents willing to trade a little elbow grease for a lot of money can use cloth diapers instead of Pampers or Huggies. Sure, there’s money spent on washing and drying and effort put into dealing with diapers, but the sheer number of diapers thrown away by parents who buy their diapers in a store really adds up, and quickly. Babies aren’t going to remember whether they wore brand name diapers when they’re grown up, and will likely appreciate having a little extra money lying around for when they’re older.
Another easy way to save a bundle without sacrificing quality when raising kids on a budget is by buying clothing second hand whenever possible. Some people associate a negative stigma with second hand clothing, but in reality, children grow so quickly and put their clothes through such incredible wear and tear that getting clothes at thrift stores, yard sales, and even from relatives or friends as hand me downs just makes good sense. Since so many small children either grow out of clothes, are given non-returnable clothes that they don’t like or don’t fit them, or are just plain picky, thrift stores and yard sales alike are filled with practically (and sometimes literally) untouched and unworn brand name clothing for kids. A cursory glance at the shelves of many thrift stores would be enough to find some clothing with original tags still intact!
Perhaps the most important way that parents can provide their children with a good life without breaking the bank is by finding creative and sensitive ways to instill a sense of value and money in their children at an early age. Anything from a chart of chores and rewards to a simple regular allowance can help kids understand that everything has a value, and that things like clothes, food and toys don’t come for free. Taking steps to establish a sense of value and cost in children serves dual purposes: for one thing, children raised in a household where money is tight come to understand and subsequently not mind the fact that they can’t have literally everything they ever want when they want it. Furthermore, children who understand costs are more likely to grow up to be frugal, intelligent consumers as adults.
While raising kids is never exactly easy, doing so with a tight budget can be especially hard. By taking steps to be creative and frugal, parents can raise children who are happy, healthy, and responsible. Not a bad start.