Just as your child's life will be full of exciting surprises, the costs of having children can involve their own surprising elements. Even before your child is born, there may be expenses like pregnancy classes and advanced ultrasounds. As children age, things like daycare, preschool, grade school and extracurricular activities may require more of a financial outlay than you expected.
However, having a child can also be an incentive to get your finances in order to be more prepared for this new life stage. Use these helpful tips to manage the costs of having children.
Take advantage of life changes to build savings
As life ebbs and flows, expenses allocated to various child-related activities go away and you can redirect the money to savings. You can start saving money for a college fund even before a child is born. After you pay off your student loans, for example, you can allocate the money you spent on loans each month to an account earmarked for a child's college education. You can also open a custodial savings account for your child, make deposits into it throughout their life and then transfer it to your child once they turn 18 or 21.
You don’t need the latest or greatest
You don't have to buy everything new. There's a good market in used baby equipment; you can likely find online marketplaces in your community with plenty of listings of strollers, extra cans of formula and toddler-sized party dresses. Make sure you check all items against the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall list. Some items have been found to be dangerous, and no bargain is worth a risk to a baby’s health and safety.
Young children outgrow clothes before they outwear them, so you may be able to rely heavily on hand-me-downs and second-hand purchases.
Although babies and young children don't need much, friends and relatives will be excited about buying them gifts. If you can, direct your family and friends toward practical items - say, clothing the child can wear in a year or two instead of newborn outfits, or money for a savings account rather than another toy. Not every relative will go along, but some will.
Low-cost activities and places
One of the joys of having family is sharing adventures and activities with them. But these experiences can be affordable. Parks and playgrounds are free. So are many museums and historic landmarks. And public performances, including children's concerts, often also carry little to no cost. With a bit of research, you can find something interesting to do every day. Moreover, exploring with your children can instill a spirit of adventure in them and teach that not all great experiences have to be costly.