Money-Saving Tips for Parents

Parenting is expensive. In 2017, Department of Agriculture estimated that a married couple with two kids will spend $233,610 on a child born in 2015 until the child is 17.

College is extra. Raising a child costs approximately $12,350 to $14,000 per year. The three biggest expenses:

  • Housing – 29 percent
  • Food – 18 percent
  • Childcare and education – 16 percent

How do you cut costs but still give your children the life they deserve? Reducing costs does not necessarily mean going without. With careful long-term planning and daily effort, you can save a substantial amount of that $233,610. The good news is the results of this study are for the average family. Can you save money on raising children? Yes, by being above average. Review the sections below to find powerful money-saving strategies and tips to lower the costs of parenting.

Looking At the Big Picture

The cost of raising child varies by the child’s age, where you live, who lives near you, and even by how many children you have. Consider the following:

Costs go up, as children age – Transportation, food, healthcare and clothing are much higher for older children. For example, it costs $2,790 per year to feed a child 15 to 17 years of age that is 22 percent more than a seven-year-old.

Siblings reduce cost per child – The Department of Agriculture report found that families with three or more children spent on average 24 percent less per child. This may be attributed to sharing a room, sharing toys and clothes and purchasing in bulk.

Rural areas rule – It is less expensive to raise children in the country than in the city. In the Northeastern United States, it is as much as 27 percent cheaper to raise a child in rural areas vs. urban areas.

Staying near extended family – Extended family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles can help reduce childcare, transportation even food expenses. If you live within arm’s reach of your extended family, you also have a resource for borrowing items instead of buying, and depending on their skills you may have free or reduced-cost access to plumbers, mechanics, financial advisors, dentists and more.

Saving Money on Childcare and Education

Childcare and education for a child under the age of 17 can eat up 16 percent of your annual budget. You may think a private school will always be a more expensive option, but consider the cost of homes and property taxes in districts with higher-quality schools. For single child households, a house in a lesser district and private school tuition may amount to savings. Homeschooling is a second option that may allow you to save on home-ownership costs.

Childcare costs can run so high that it may not make sense for both parents to work. Fortunately, this is one expense that decreases and disappears as children age. Finding ways to reduce childcare costs when your kids are young can have a massive impact on your family’s budget. Consider these options:

Be a full-time parent – Look at your incomes. If one parent’s job is capable of supporting the family, it may make financial sense for the other to stay home and save the daycare costs. You may need to cut overall spending for your family, but there are many benefits to having a parent at home.

Work from home – Many jobs can be handled from home, even with kids around. In some cases, employers will allow you to work from home a couple days a week. While this will not eliminate your daycare costs, it can significantly reduce them. Working from home saves on transportation costs, clothing and other work-related expenses, as well.

Use a free babysitter – As stated above, living near your extended family provides you with a wealth of resources like free daycare. Grandparents, nieces and nephews may be willing to help for free or at a much lower rate than your other childcare options.

Eating For Less

A single child can cost more than $200 per month to feed. Finding ways to save on your food bill is key to saving money. The most effective way to save on food is to eat at home. Buy groceries and cook for your children. Have everyone carry lunch to school or work. Dining out is a huge, unnecessary expense. Preparing your own meals tends to be healthier, which can also save on health care costs.


Cooking takes time, and busy parents struggle to find the time to plan and prepare meals. Here are a few tips to make cooking at home easier:

Weekly meal plan – Create a menu for the week ahead. Include two or three options for breakfast and lunch, and plan five dinners for the next seven days. Leave two days open for leftovers and timing issues. A meal plan will also help you create a shopping list and save you from buying unnecessary food at the grocery store.

Meal prep – With your meal plan, see what items you can cook and prepare ahead of time. Some ideas for meal prep that can save you time cooking:

  • Cleaning and chopping vegetables
  • Cooking rice or pasta
  • Browning ground beef
  • Grilling chicken or other meats
  • Making casseroles to be heated later

Double the recipe – If you have room in your freezer, consider preparing twice the amount and freezing a meal for later in the month.

Saving Tips

Most parents look for a way to cut spending. Here are more ways to save on parenting:

  • Borrow – If you only need it for a short time, borrow it from someone (whatever IT is).
  • Buy Used – You may feel reluctant to put a new baby in old clothes, but babies (and children) grow very fast. Used children’s clothes in excellent condition are easy to find, and a fraction of the cost of new clothes.
  • Use free resources – Use your public parks and the public library (which carries DVDs, by the way)
  • Do it yourself – Make your own birthday cakes. Cut your own grass. Decorate your own home.
  • Resist over-buying toys – Babies (and children) want a lot of what they see on television. But every parent has realized that kids play more with simple things than expensive, complicated toys.
  • Borrow or trade toys – See if your child is willing to trade something they have for something they want. It is a good lesson on the value of things.
  • Eliminate the non-essentials – You may think you need to buy a brand, new pair of designer shoes for your 12-year-old, but you probably do not.
  • Shop sales – If you know you are going to need a new refrigerator soon, hold off until you find an excellent sale.
  • Ask for discounts – According to Consumer Reports National Research Center, only 10 percent of shoppers negotiate for better pricing, yet 89 percent of shoppers who do will get a better price. Ask if there is an additional discount or coupon available or point out a flaw like a loose button and ask for a percentage off.

It is a fact that parenting is an expensive endeavor, well worth the effort and expense, but costly nonetheless. Incorporating some money-saving habits can significantly reduce your overall household spending.


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