As a parent to three little ones, I can tell you one thing – they can be expensive! Not really earth-shattering, I know, but there is always something they seem to need. As a parent, I want the best for my children. What parent worth their salt doesn’t want that?
However, when I hear that it costs nearly $250,000 to raise a child, I get a lump in my throat. That doesn’t even include the cost to attend college! That amount is simply to get them to the age of 18. If you’re considering starting a family or holding off because of statistics such as this, I have one thing to say…
Children Need Very Little
That’s right. Children, especially early in life, need very little. That’s my biggest frustration with the USDA statistic. It assumes you’re going to be buying new everything for that bundle of joy and buying things that are simply not necessary. The result? Needless expenses that can be put elsewhere in your budget.
I know it flies in the face of our consumer culture, but consider the things little ones truly need:
- A safe and reliable car seat: This is a non-negotiable. Your child needs to be safe while you’re driving. It also goes without saying it must be installed properly as well. For a few hundred dollars, you have your choice of reliable car seats that will serve you for several years.
- A safe place to sleep: Like the car seat above, this is a non-negotiable but doesn’t cost a small fortune like you’d expect.
- Clothing: Kids grow like crazy though clothing is one of the best places to save money on the cost of raising a child. Let family and friends buy clothes as gifts and as your child gets older, look for ways to save on clothing.
- First-aid items: You will want to have a relatively small supply of first-aid or personal care items for your new little one, but all are pretty inexpensive.
Outside of this handful of items, there is very little you’ll need for a baby. Other things like diapers and bathing supplies are also needed, but add relatively little to the overall cost of raising your child.
Yes, costs will go up as your child gets older but there are many ways to save money on that. This is especially the case as one of the leading cost factors is food – it’s in the top three cost factors in fact. A healthy, well-balanced, diet is important to a child – but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. As with many other things in life, there are many ways to save on this and other factors that influence the cost of raising a child – you just have to make a commitment to mitigate those costs.
Built in Opportunity to Teach About Money Management
There are many other factors that must go into having children, including being on the same page as your partner as to when or if to start a family. That being said, I believe one of the often-overlooked factors in having children is money management.
On a personal level, this can help you with prioritization of needs not to mention the opportunity to bring your children in on money decisions as they grow up. As a parent, I take seriously the responsibility to teach my kids about money and spending decisions related to their needs, as well as the needs of our family, makes that a natural conversation. So, as we seek to save money on raising children, it helps them begin to develop a healthy spending mindset that they can carry with them in to adulthood.
Children are no doubt expensive. There is no denying that. However, they don’t have to be as expensive as reports would indicate – in fact; they can be significantly cheaper.