Everyone knows that babies and kids are expensive. The statistics telling you how much it costs to raise a baby are shocking, as well as somewhat misleading. You can do a search for how much it costs to raise a baby and the results vary quite a bit. It's important to realize just what these statistics take into consideration and what you can do to save. There are many ways to save money while raising a healthy and happy child.
Cost of living is not always taken into consideration with these studies. If you live in a lower COL area (as I do) it won't cost that much more to buy or rent a larger house. Multiple children also do not need their own rooms either, although it may save you some sanity.
Breastfeeding is one of the biggest ways to save money with a new baby.Breastfeeding is free and it is the healthiest food that your baby can eat. A breast pump and a couple of good nursing bras are very helpful although not absolute necessities. You can buy an inexpensive manual pump for less than the cost of 3 cans of formula. If you can't or choose not to breastfeed, there are programs like WIC for lower income households that will help with formula. Even if you don't qualify for WIC (and their income restrictions are reasonable) you can save money on formula with coupons. Some WIC programs also give away breast pumps, breast pads and other supplies to help with breastfeeding.
Once your baby is old enough to eat regular food, making your own baby food is a money saver. You can even make organic food for cheaper than regular baby food in jars. This is also better for the baby because the food is fresher. You can use a hand blender or food processor which you may already have.
Buying less for the baby is a great way to save. The baby registries may say that you NEED a swing, jumper, walker, bassinet, bouncer, travel swing, etc. but honestly all that babies needs are love, food, and diapers. That isn't to say that you shouldn't buy any of these things for your baby, because you should, but you don't necessarily need all of it.
When buying baby gear, buying used is another great way to save. For example, I got this swing for $10 and it is in perfect shape. I also got a cute travel system (infant carseat/stroller) for about 1/3 of retail, a bouncer for $20, a bassinet for free, a walker for $3 and a jumperoo for $20. Most of the time you can get baby items in like-new condition because they just aren't used that much. There are so many of these floating around out there that prices (check Craigslist) are really cheap. For certain items (like cribs and carseats) it's important to check recalls and/or make sure they aren't expired.
Baby clothes are expensive and sometimes don't even get worn once! Garage sales and consignment stores can be great places to buy clothes for babies and older kids. Hand-me-downs from friends can be very helpful, and eBay or Craigslist have tons of listings for kids clothes.
Many of these baby-cost calculators also assume that you will be paying for 100% of your child's college expenses. This is way some of the calculators have shockingly high estimates. It's always good to keep in mind that many scholarships are available and easy to get, most families also qualify for some kind of financial aid.
Most restaurants and other family places (like zoos and movie theaters) have special occasions when children can get in for free with a paying adult. Taking advantage of these specials can save quite a bit. Also most amusement parks, zoos and other places offer free admission to children 3 and under.
Raising kids is expensive, but there are definitely ways to save. What is your number one money saving tip for your family?