by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 15, 2021
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Are you spending a fortune on your children? It may be time to rethink some of your habits.
Raising children is by no means an inexpensive prospect. Between food, healthcare, clothing, activities, and childcare, the costs can really add up.
Now some child-related expenses may be unavoidable. Say you have a child with allergies who needs to follow a special diet. Your grocery bills for that child alone could amount to hundreds of dollars on a monthly basis, and there's not much to do about it -- your kid needs to eat.
But some parents do tend to fall into the trap of overspending on their children. And those who do so to an extreme risk landing in debt because of it.
In fact, in a recent CouponFollow survey, 12% of parents say that on average, they spend $1,000 or more a month, per child, in their household. For a family with multiple kids, that can add up to quite a lot of money.
If you've been busting your family's budget on child-related expenses -- or worse yet, if you've been racking up debt on your credit cards to pay for them -- then it's time to buckle down and start spending less. Here are a few things you may be able to cut back on.
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It's one thing to spend money on nicer clothes for an older child who's unlikely to change sizes every few months. But if you have infants or toddlers, there's really no reason to spend more than a few dollars on any given piece of clothing.
Chances are, anything you buy a very young child will either get stained, destroyed, or outgrown before you've gotten your money's worth. You're better off shopping the discount racks or asking friends and family members if they can spare any hand-me-downs.
It's not a bad thing for kids to explore different hobbies and learn different skills. But some after-school activities can be a lot pricier than others, and there's nothing wrong with erring on the side of those that cost less.
If your town offers a recreational soccer program with a volunteer coach that costs $100 for the entire season, that's probably a better bet than enrolling your child in a private soccer clinic that charges $100 per week. Do your best to shop around before signing up for things like music lessons, gymnastics, or martial arts. You may find that some schools in your area have much lower rates than others, and doing some research could be your ticket to spending less.
You don't want your kids sitting around the house every weekend bored out of their minds. But that doesn't mean you need to spring for a season pass to three local amusement parks or spend every other Sunday at a zoo or museum. Instead, explore free ways to keep your children occupied. You can explore different hiking trails, have picnics by the lake, or even stay busy at home with board game tournaments and cooking competitions.
Some child-related expenses can't be helped. If you need daycare so you can work, for example, you might spend well over $1,000 per month on that alone. But it does pay to rethink your spending if you feel you've been going overboard, or if you're finding that you're unable to pay all of your bills by the time they come due. And by cutting back, you might also teach them the important lesson of learning to be happy with a little less.
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