Recent studies show it costs as much as $241,080 to raise a child for the first 18 years. That doesn’t even include college! From diapers to childcare to music lessons and everything in between, it can be hard to make ends meet.
While creating or modifying a budget for you and your family can seem daunting, free personal finance tools like Mint.com offer budgeting and goal features to help busy parents track, save and spend wisely. Holly Perez, Mint.com spokeswoman and mom of two active boys, shares how you can stretch your dollar and save money.
Don’t ditch date night: A night out without the kids can be costly. To lower babysitting expenses, consider going out with other parents with kids of similar age as yours. You can split the baby sitting costs for the evening.
Fun for free: Entertainment does not have to be expensive. Parks, beaches and libraries are just a few of the free activities you can enjoy with your children. There are also a variety of cost-effective, local government run recreational programs. Finally, ask merchants if they offer discounts for members of your local mom’s clubs, church or school groups. It never hurts to ask and smaller, community-based merchants may have more flexibility to comply.
Buy store brand: Store brand items such as diaper and baby wipes can save you a bundle when you are caring for a bundle of joy. Unlike name-brand companies that pass the marketing and advertising costs onto the consumer, store brand can often yield comparable quality at lower prices. If you do have to shop name brand, look for coupons in your Sunday paper or online.
Plan for the unexpected: Many families don’t have an emergency fund set aside. Allocating money every month to an emergency fund provides peace of mind and protection against sudden unemployment, a medical emergency or car repairs.
Money management is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself and set financial goals along the way. A little bit of discipline can go a long way for you, your family and your wallet.
This was a guest post on behalf of Mint.com. The opinions are their own and may or may not reflect the views of Penny Pinchin’ Mom.