Every year, the USDA updates the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 18. The latest figure is in line with recent years that you are likely to spend close to a quarter million dollars raising a child.
Breaking down the latest average and the figure is actually $14,000 per year. However, you can use the calculator provided by the USDA to get an idea of how your situation might impact what you are likely to spend. In my case, the calculator says that the number is a little more than $23,000 a year.
Luckily, I don’t spend $23,000 a year on my 14-year old son. How do I do it?
Can You Get Away with Spending Less?
In most cases, it’s probably possible to get away with spending less on your children than the government estimates.
Some of the ways you can spend less focus on food and clothing costs. You can also save money on housing, depending on your situation and where you live.
I know that I save money on my son’s clothing by shopping sales. My son also gets some hand-me-downs from his dad. If you have more than one child, you can cut costs by saving clothing in good shape and passing it down to your other children.
Food is another area where it’s possible to save money on what you spend on your children. You don’t want to starve your kids, but there are plenty of money-saving tricks that don’t involve depriving your children of nutrition.
Coupons, discounts, and other tricks, like buying in bulk and preparing meals ahead of time can save you money in the long run. There’s no reason to spend a ton of money on food when there are resources available to you. There are plenty of ways to save even if you shop at higher end grocery stores like Whole Foods.
Look for ways to save a little extra money, and you won’t need to spend as much as expected.
Planning for the Costs of Having Children
Spending less than the national average on children might only feel good for a short while though, since the reality is that having kids still costs quite a bit of money. Another kid always increases overall costs. After all, you are adding another human being to the equation.
So plan ahead in order to deal with the expenses more easily. Make sure to set money aside for different activities and needs before the funds are needed. I set aside money each month in a 529 plan for my son to help with college costs down the road. I also know that we will spend money on his fencing and on his band involvement.
Look ahead to the activities and costs you will pay for your children at different times in their lives. You know you will need to buy diapers and take care of other items when a child is born. Older children will also need food, clothes, and likely some money set aside of their friend’s birthdays and other outings. Childcare, extracurricular activities, and the cost of potentially moving into a larger place should all be considered.
Start a fund now so you will be prepared when the need arises. The earlier you start saving, the easier you can deal with all the expenses.
Editor's Note: Did you know about the service called $5 meal plans? For $5 a month, they send you recipes of delicious, healthy, yet cheap food that costs just $5 a meal.
Several of my friends signed up and they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves them so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier at the same time.