Raising a Child Does Not Cost as Much as the USDA Estimates

According to the USDA’s 2010 report, raising a child born in 2010 to the age of 18 will cost on average $226,920.  This cost is the average cost a middle-class family pays for shelter, food, health care, clothing, transportation, child care, education and other expenses.  They further break down the average cost per child per year as $11,800 to $13,880.  Yikes!  If you are on the fence about having kids, this report will certainly sway you in the direction of remaining childless.

However, as a mom to three kids, I can attest (as many other parents including Beating Broke can), that it doesn’t have to be this way.    My husband and I have three kids, which, according to the report, should run us a minimum of $35,400 a year, not including our other expenses.  My husband is just completing his Ph.D. and starting his career.  While we count on him being able to make a large salary in the future, right now between his job and my part-time work from home, we are making a little less than $40,000.  We are most definitely not spending $35,400 a year on our kids.  Here is how we cut corners:

-Shop for clothes at garage sales.  Babies and little kids don’t really care about their clothes; you can find fashionable, barely worn clothing at garage sales for less than $1 per piece or outfit.  Save money this way.  I know it is tempting to buy those adorable, brand new baby clothes, but babies outgrow outfits in weeks.  Let someone else spend their money buying those clothes so you can snatch them up for pennies at a garage sale.  If you don’t go to garage sales, check out Craigslist or eBay.

SAM SAJAN THOMAS -Breastfeed if possible.  Not every woman is able or willing to breastfeed, but if you are, breastfeeding can save nearly $1,000 that would have to be spent on formula for the first year of the child’s life.

-Use cloth diapers.  Cloth diapers do require a large financial investment upfront, but they will last for the two to three years your child is in diapers, and they may even last for use by your next child.  If cloth diapers make you squeamish, make sure to never pay retail for disposable diapers.  By finding deals and using coupons, you should be able to reduce your diaper cost significantly.

-Accept all hand-me-downs.  If you are the lucky recipient of hand-me-downs, please take them.  Honestly, for a newborn, the only thing you need to buy brand new is a crib mattress and a car seat, for safety reasons.  Everything else such as strollers, toys, cribs, clothes, etc. can be given as a hand-me-down or bought second hand.

There are some costs that you can’t save money on such as day care and health care.  In all the other areas, there are ways to cut corners.  Get in the practice of cutting corners when children are small and save the difference.  Forgo the brand new outfits and large ticket items like a crib and instead go secondhand and save the difference.  Bigger expenses loom ahead such as college.  As Beating Broke stated in an earlier post, Stop Adding Up the Cost of Raising Children.  It is possible to raise them for significantly less than the government suggests.

What are your suggestions for saving money when raising children?

photo credit: Sukanto Debnath

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