Saving Money When Being a Parent – A Step By Step Guide

Saving Money When Being a Parent - A Step By Step Guide
Written by Oana Schneider

Whether you have one, two, three or more kids, there’s no doubt that raising them from infancy onward will cost you a lot of money. The costs are all worth it, of course, but there’s really no reason for you to spend a fortune on raising children. There are many areas of their growing up years where you can save money, which is what we will learn more about in the following sections. Read why saving money when being a parent is not a hard thing to do!

First, let’s take a quick look at a few statistics on how much parents actually spend to raise their kids. According to the US Department of Agriculture:

  • The cost of raising a child increased by 22% since the 1960s.
  • For middle income parents, the cost of raising kids is anywhere between $11,650 and $13,530 per year.
  • For slightly higher earning income families, the cost of raising kids is from $19,300 to more than $23,000 annually.

If you have a child who’s born in 2009, the cost of raising them would be even bigger because of higher tax brackets. The figures provided by the USDA do not include the cost of sending a kid to college, buying them expensive gadgets and paying for the children’s extracurricular activities.

From Infancy to Toddler

If you’re a single or a set of parents with a reasonable amount of income per year, you would most probably have the means to raise your child. But as mentioned earlier, there is no need for you to spend any more than you have to on child rearing costs. If there is a specific area of raising a child that you can save a lot of money on, why not go for it? This is especially true if the method of saving money when being a parent will not cause any undue harm to the health and overall well-being of your kid.

To give you an idea about how you can save money when raising children, let’s start with one of the first two stages in their lives: infancy to toddler. How can you save money when your kids are of this age? Take a look at the following list:

Shop around for the best hospital rates

Saving Money When Being a Parent - A Step By Step Guide

Once it is confirmed that you are pregnant, that’s the best time to think about how you will finance the baby’s arrival. During the pregnancy stage, vitamins may be prescribed for the mom and these will be your first baby-related expenses. As the date of the baby’s arrival nears, take advantage of the time to plan for the baby’s birth. Shop around for the best hospital rates. Are you having normal delivery or Cesarean section? If there’s extra charge for private rooms, pass it up for a two-person room which could halve the expense. With nurses coming in every hour, you would not have complete privacy, anyway. Saving money when being a parent or pregnant is no easy task!

Also say no to add-ons, don’t turn on the TV and ask permission to take home the toiletries stored beneath your baby’s rolling bassinet. This would include swaddling cloths, diapers, alcohol swabs, a thermometer, disposable nipples for feeding bottles, etc. These are usually part of the hospital’s baby care package and you can save around $50 when buying them from a drugstore.

Breastfeed and use a breast pump if possible

Feeding your baby with formula might be an option for working moms. But the expense of this will likely add up, so it really is better all the way round to opt for breastfeeding. Aside from the money that you will save, you and the baby will also have that time to bond. This is not to mention the fact that breastfeeding has a multitude of health benefits for the baby.

If you plan to return to work once the baby is old enough, use a breast pump which you can use to store breast milk for the baby later on. Also, wait for about two weeks before buying quite expensive nursing bras and t-shirts. Only purchase them once you have determined that you can commit to breastfeeding, so you won’t have nursing clothes that you won’t be able to use after just a few weeks.

Don’t buy too many baby clothes

One of the biggest mistakes made overly excited, first-time parents is purchasing too many baby clothes – or buying them way in advance. Remember that your baby will not stay little for too long a time. Newborns are known to have growth spurts, so that very cute Disney Frozen t-shirt that you bought may not fit anymore after a couple of weeks. Buy just enough clothes for a couple of weeks’ use and for the basics, it’s better to go for white ones. Bleach is cheaper than spot-treating stains so you will save a lot of money in the long run.

Saving Money When Being a Parent - A Step By Step Guide

Other ways to save money when raising kids

Decorate the nursery room with multi-functional furniture pieces. Be aware of other baby stuff which are practically useless for the baby, such as crib pillows which might block their breathing. When it comes to child care – especially for moms who would like to go back to work soon – you can trade for babysitting services. Saving money when being a parent is easy if you just use your imagination and make your own furniture.

Work with a neighbor, a friend or a sister-in-law who also has kids and create a schedule so that you can trade child sitting services. Once the baby’s old enough, make food from natural ingredients instead of buying bottled variants. There are plenty of other aspects of raising a baby from infancy to toddler stage that you can save on, it’s simply a matter of being resourceful.

From School Age to Preteens

Clothes, school-related expenses and food are the major expenses that you will have to spend on when raising kids from school age to preteens. If you have more than one child, you may want to preserve some clothes to be used by the younger sibling for later. When you go online or flip through magazines, there should be plenty of coupons that will give you discounts when buying children’s clothes. Resist the temptation to give in to your child’s request of buying designer clothes, especially if you really do not have the budget for it.

When it comes to grocery shopping, there are online and magazine coupons that you can use as well. To save money on food, make a menu list and include as many healthy, cheap yet fresh ingredients as possible. Head over to the local farmer’s market where you can buy fresh produce at really cheap prices. Better yet, grow your own food. If you don’t have the extra space, simply use the window sill or some small potted plants to grow your own herbs, spices and small vegetables or fruits. Get the older kids to help out if you do have a garden. Not only can they eat healthier food, but they will also learn a lot from gardening and growing plants.

What about toys? Saving money when being a parent on toys couldn’t be easier. There are many websites which sell second hand toys which other kids have barely used. Take advantage of these if you really want your child to have a collection of toys to play with. The same thing holds true for books, game boards and similar items.

When dining out, look for restaurants which offer kids-eat-for-free promos. To save money on entertainment, hold a movie marathon at home instead of paying the ticket prices at movie theatres. Although there may be times when you can afford to splurge, remember that the funds that you will save can be used for other expenses in the future.

For school-related expenses, you obviously will be saving a lot of money when sending the kids to public instead of private schools. However, it is still a personal decision between you and your spouse about which educational establishment you should send your kids to. While in school, make sure to instill in your child the value of saving money when being a parent which is a skill that they can use in the future.

Saving Money When Being a Parent - A Step By Step Guide

From Teenage Years to College

What about the high-school and college-related expenses? For this, it pays to save for your kid’s college tuition as early as possible. Once your kid is old enough, have him or her perform chores inside the house that you will otherwise be paying other people to do. This will teach your kid the value of hard work, while adding to the college fund as well. Although there are study now, pay later programs and student loans that can be applied for, having that financial buffer in the form of real college money will go a long way towards establishing the education of your son or daughter.

Just because raising a kid is expensive does not mean that you should deprive yourself of the pleasure and experience of raising one, a couple, three or even more. With proper budgeting and cutting back on some aspects of your budget, you can save a lot of money while raising children, without sacrificing their comfort and education in the process. As you can see, saving money when being a parent is not a hard thing to achieve if you have determination and you put your creativity to work!

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.


  • In addition to finding used clothes/toys for your kids, when your child has outgrown clothes or is done with toys, consider selling them yourself on ebay or Craigslist, or have a garage sale to get some of that money back to use toward the new/used things they need now. If you have multiple children, save the items you can use for the younger siblings, but other than that, sell it for cash!

    • If you sell used clothing for younger babies and toddlers, then you can make a decent amount of money if they’re in good condition. Clothes for the young ones are quite expensive, even at discount stores, after all. You won’t make a fortune, but the money can help you pay for other expenses revolving around your children.

  • I thought it was interesting what you said about shopping around for hospital rates, I didn’t know you could do that. I thought all hospitals were the same rate as negotiated by your insurance, so I didn’t know different hospitals could have different charges. I also didn’t know you could request a different type of room. We do pay a lot for our healthcare and I always feel I’m just stuck paying what ever I was charged. It never comes to my mind to ask beforehand what the charge will be, so that’s some great advice for me!

  • I don’t have kids myself but I remember growing up and things being simple. Our tree wasn’t flooded with presents and Easter I think we got about 4 gifts and chocolate. Birthdays was the same no huge amount of presents. I loved this though it kept me from being a spoiled kid. We worked hard and had a garden so lots of savings on produce.

    • I wouldn’t say that getting lots of gifts during the holidays makes everyone spoiled. However, I’m glad to hear that your family took the simple approach to events like this, and that’s how my family handled things, too. You don’t need tons of gifts for any holiday, and what matters is family, or at the very least being around other people that care about you.

  • Parents more so than other individuals and couples need to focus upon saving money. No matter how much you love your children, there’s no denying that they’re quite expensive to raise over the course of 18 years or longer. There are dozens of ways parents can save money, and coupons or other tips mentioned here are always smart solutions.

  • As they say, breastfeeding is best for babies up to two years. It’s not only best for your child, it’s best for mommy as well. Breastfeeding greatly strengthens the bond between mother and child even if the mother harvests the milk firsthand rather than feeding the baby directly through the teat. The mother loses weight faster if she is breastfeeding and it also helps her relieve the pressure when she’s carrying a lot of milk.

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