How to Raise a Child on a Budget
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I read a report recently that stated that the current cost to raise a child is assessed at $245,000. Cat talked in this post about how to know if you’re financially ready for children earlier this week, and it’s vitally important to have a plan in place and know your financial situation before taking on the raising of a child.
However, I’m a firm believer in simplicity when it comes to raising children. In many ways, we have bred a real sense of entitlement in today’s children. They “need” a smartphone, a car, name brand clothes and all of the things that “everyone else” has.
We homeschool our children, but I grew up in a traditional school system, and am well aware of pressures that today’s kids face. As a “poor” kid, I had my share of criticism and of being ostracized due to wearing non-name brand clothes and not having all of the “stuff” that other kids have.
It was, in part, those experiences that led my husband and I to get into the serious debt problem that we are working out of today. It’s difficult to be among such a large group of peers and stand out for not having what everyone else has. And I think that’s a large part of why people are spending so much money on their kids today.
However, there are ways to raise a child on a budget that is significantly less than $250,000. Here are some tips.
Raise a Child the Frugal Way
Let’s start with clothing. Name brand clothing might be a “must” in your neighborhood, however, Ebay, Craigslist, your local garage sales and the clearance racks often have great-looking name brand clothing at a fraction of the price of new clothes.
Buy used, teach your kids to take good care of their clothes, and then sell them again to earn some of that money back once they’ve grown out of them. Obviously, some things, such as shoes, usually need to be bought new, but wait for the sales and never pay full price.
Sports and other extracurricular activities are fun and can do well in contributing to the growth and development of your child. However, it’s really not necessary to pack up every evening and weekend with different sports and activities. I read a story one time about a family of four that, largely for financial reasons, decided to limit their two kids to two sports or activities per year. Not only did they save thousands of dollars, but their family grew closer, more relaxed, and simply enjoyed life more on a not-so-busy schedule.
Instead of jam-packing your child’s every waking hour with a task or commitment, choose to do things as a family or with friends. Plan picnics, short hikes or bike rides. Visit a park. Visit a family member or friend. Have friends over for dinner. Teach your kids the value in having fellowship and friendship with others or of sitting home and enjoying the quiet instead of always having to do, be, and go.
Things have changed: I get that. We live in a world where technology is a huge part of children’s lives. To raise a child today means providing technology for school and just about every thing else. However, your kids do not have to have every gadget known to mankind. Give your child what they need in terms of electronic gadgets, but beware of letting time in front of a screen consume their lives. Limit the amount of unnecessary time in front of the screen and teach your child the value of fresh air, sunshine and face-to-face human interaction.
When I see kids today, sitting in a group and not speaking one word to each other as they bury their faces into their smartphones, I long even more for the days when nearly every one of my great-grandmother’s 12 kids and dozens of grandchildren/great-grandchildren would pop over to her house for an unexpected visit. I think we can learn something valuable about healthy ways to raise a child from generations past.
The fun we experienced during those visits could never, ever be matched by any activity or gadget.
By remembering what’s truly important in life – people – and training our kids up to live a life that reflects that, we can not only give them an extra dose of confidence and peace, but we can save tens of thousands of dollars in the process as well.
What are your tips for raising children on a budget? Do you feel financially ready to raise a child? What’s something society today says you have to provide children that might not be necessary?