As inflation continues to wreak havoc on the middle and lower socioeconomic classes, many will feel the sting of rising costs in different areas of their lives. Those with children can attest to this fact, as statistics show that raising a child can cost upward of $310,000.00 from infancy to age 17. Toss in higher education costs, and that works out to be an additional $18,000.00 per year.
Don’t worry. We aren’t going to scare you with numbers and leave you wondering what to do. Here are a few ways you can combat the rising costs of parenthood:
- Reduce, Reuse…
Social media is packed with parents willing to share advice, trade hand-me-downs, and sell gently used toys and kid’s furniture at a fraction of the cost of new supplies. Just remember to practice safe online purchasing habits – don’t give out your number, meet somewhere safe and public for trades, and watch out for signs of a scam. And when your kid grows out of their current batch of goods, consider passing it on to another family who needs the help.
- Child Care Alternatives
Let’s face it, daycare is EXPENSIVE. It’s also hard to access in many communities – the waiting list for a daycare in Washoe County is months long. Babysitting Exchanges with other parents can help lower the burden, as can “Share Care”, where you group up to hire one sitter or nanny for a group of kids. For older children, before and after school programs like the Boys and Girls Club can help keep your kid engaged and safe for a few extra hours every day, and they often have payment assistance programs. And of course, if you have friends and family who are willing to watch the kiddos for a day or two every month, those savings can add up!
- Family Meal Prep
Yes, we all know that cooking at home is healthier and cheaper. It can also take a lot of time, and planning meals every night is a massive mental load for busy parents. Meal prepping once a week, or even monthly, can be a manageable, affordable way to keep food costs down without burning out. Use apps like Yummly to plan meals, organize shopping, and keep track of your pantry. Look for on sale and in-season items for cheaper meals. Get the kids involved in cooking for some primo learning and bonding time, and in hopes that someday they’ll make you a fancy dinner, all on their own!
- Free Family Activities
Making memories with your family does not have to cost a fortune. How many times has your kiddo gotten a new toy, only to play with the box instead? Keep it simple. Take a family bike ride instead of a trip to the movies. Head to the park for a picnic with friends instead of going out for dinner. Neighborhood I-Spy is an endless source of evening entertainment. See who can count the most cats, who can find more red cars, who can strike the best statue pose on a walk. Have experiences instead of collecting things. And take lots of pictures!
- Budget for the Holidays
It’s easy to get swept up in trying to make the perfect holiday for your child. But if you don’t plan ahead for the costs, all those little splurges can add up to a major annual expense. Set a budget, then start setting aside money with Sierra’s Christmas Club Saving Accounts early each year. Put a little away automatically with each paycheck. This way you won’t have to worry about dipping into your bill-paying money or purchase gifts using high-interest credit cards.
- Teach your Kids About Money
There’s no reason not to bring your kids in on the money conversation. Learning about the cost of dinner, saving up for a toy or activity, budgeting allowance money for gifts and treats… There are so many ways to start teaching financial literacy that will serve your child well as they grow. Don’t be afraid to admit when something isn’t in the family budget, and talk about what that means. Open up a Sierra Pacific savings account for your child, and include them in making deposits and watching those savings grow.