Tips for Raising Kids on a Budget
February 6, 2023
by mikkie mills, guest contributor
Economic security is something that everybody strives for but it seems as though it's becoming harder to establish and maintain. The average cost for a family of four to live is about $7,000 per month, which translates to over $80,000 per year. While these costs have certainly trended up over the past several decades, wage increases have not always kept up in order to cover today's expenses.
Most people are one emergency away from realizing a large amount of debt. When you're raising a family, making ends meet can be difficult with the cost of living realities. Rather than being gobsmacked by the nature of 21st-century financial disparity, which tends to leave the middle class in the proverbial lurch, you can focus your energies instead on raising your children on a tight budget. Actually, there are tons of ways to save when you're actively considering your options.
Buy What's Necessary, Not What's Expected
It can be so hard for kids to recognize the difference between what they need versus what they want. That's where you come in. There are basic needs that need to be met before making unnecessary expenditures and this translates into simple choices, like buying the store-brand cereal or potato chips as opposed to plunking down extra money for the name brands.
As a parent, you can tighten your own belt, too, spending less on yourself and modeling for your kids what constitutes a need versus a want. It's a good bet that these issues will still exist when they become parents, down the road.
Slash Your Grocery Bill
An American Express credit card can help you to get what you need when emergencies arise, or even for special occasions, but it should be used with respect. There's nothing easier than slipping into unmanageable credit card debt. A good rule of thumb is to avoid employing a credit card for the likes of food because weeks after that food is gone, you'll still be paying interest on it.
A better way to manage is to spend minimally at the grocery store. This means, as mentioned above, choosing store-brand items over name-brand items. It also means eschewing the services that are currently being offered, where people shop for you and even deliver your groceries to you. These services aren't free, so it's worth taking the trip and shopping on your own.
Teach Your Kids Conservation
When it comes to food, you can help your children to practice portion control. If you're serving meals that aren't being completely eaten, you're leaving your money on the table. You need to find the happy medium between spartan eating and minimizing waste.
Conservation can happen elsewhere, too. You can save on the cost of electricity by turning lights off when you leave a room and employing natural light when there's enough; before turning on those lights in the first place. You can save on your water bill by turning the faucet off when you're brushing your teeth or washing the dishes and taking short showers. Using energy-saving light bulbs will save money in the long run, just like hanging your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.
Raising a family wouldn't be easy even if you had a million dollars. You can raise your kids on a budget and use it to help them understand the nature of limited resources, like money. By investigating ways to save money, whether it's on food, entertainment, school supplies or anything else, you're naturally helping them to learn these values. It's the best way to deal with inflation. Indeed, when the price of living is the only thing that goes up, you need to turn to your wits.
Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks, and DIY. When she's not writing, she's chasing the little ones or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.
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