Having children brings so much enjoyment and fulfillment to our lives. Unfortunately, kids can also leave our bank accounts dwindling… As children get older, new expenses come into play: sports fees, after school care, technology, school supplies, summer camps, and clothes for their rapidly growing bodies. But there are ways to save some coin here and there:
- Buy resale: Local retail shops, such as My Little Children and Peppypotamus, buy and sell children’s clothes, shoes, and toys in good condition. Itty Bitty Boutique also offers biannual sales in the spring and fall that offer resale clothes, shoes, toys, and baby gear. You can also find great clothes at thrift stores and garage sales if you are willing to put in the time to search through their many offerings.
- Organize swaps: Whether it’s sports equipment or everyday clothing, organizing clothing swaps at your child’s school, church, or elsewhere in the community is a great way for everyone to save a buck or two.
- Skip the baby shoes: We get it—baby shoes are adorable. But they are also unnecessary until your baby starts walking, and even then they only need soft leather footwear. Besides, babies tend to learn to walk faster without shoes on! Barefoot is better for developing the muscles in the feet for walking.
- Grow your own produce: Lane County’s weather allows for an extended growing season. Even if you don’t have room in your backyard for a garden, community garden plots are fairly affordable, and you can grow a variety of summer and winter veggies, such as lettuce, carrots, potatoes, beets, strawberries, and more! And gardening is a great activity to do with children! Your County or State extension service is a great resource for information and advice.
- Breastfeed: If you have a baby on the way, consider breastfeeding for at least the first year of life. No formula, bottles, soap, bottle cleaners to buy. Plus, it’s the most nutritious food for your newborn—win, win! Many insurance plans offer a free breast pump, so it’s worth looking into your plan a couple months before baby’s due and place your order. While breastfeeding is not for everyone, and some people struggle, it’s worth it to talk with your OB, pediatrician, and hospital lactation specialist to find out more and get support.
- Make your own baby food: It can be fun and rewarding to make your own baby food. Most recipes involve steaming produce until it is soft and then pureeing it. Your homemade baby food can be frozen and thawed for later use. You can use ice cube trays to freeze puréed foods, and keep the cubes in the freezer. Thaw your protein, vegetable, and fruit cubes in the refrigerator as needed.
For decades, the advertising industry has been finding ways to convince kids they need the latest and greatest toys. And with today’s media landscape, it’s even harder to avoid marketing for talking action figures or “princess unicorn dream dolls.”
- Simple is best: Children are at their most creative when they have simple toys on hand: blocks, dress up, art supplies, books, balls, fort material.
- Rotate out your toys: You may have noticed that the more toys you have, the less they actually get played with. It’s true, that too many options are overwhelming to children. Some parents rotate out their toys by putting a selection away for a month. This gives more mileage to the toys you already have and makes them feel new again when they come back out!
- Make your own: From salt dough to paints, fort ideas, easy costumes, there are a lot of resources for DIY play ideas to help save you some money.
- Visit your library: Eugene and Springfield have wonderful libraries with plentiful board books, picture books, young readers, and more. They also offer free story times and special events for varying age groups.
Of course, at the end of the day, raising children is still a big financial commitment and the best course of action is to make sure you are financially prepared to raise a child before moving forward with the decision. But, life happens and if you find yourself in need of financial assistance, there are resources available at https://resources.parentingnow.org/resources/financial-assistance/.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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