Some childcare costs are unavoidable. If you send your kids to daycare or a sitter, you don’t really have a choice but to bite the bullet and write out that big check every month. But there are a few key areas where you can get buy on spending less — way less.
Where You Can Save
1. Furniture. When putting together my oldest daughter’s nursery, the grandparents all pitched in to buy the crib and the dresser, so we went with a really nice set. If I had to do it over, I would have put about half the money in a college savings account. The dresser drawers have come off the tracks time and again, and the dresser has fared no better than the cheaper Ikea pieces we have. And the nice crib? Well, let’s just say teething makes it look like a beaver got hold of her crib rails. If you’re looking to splurge on a crib, go see if you can find something with a similar look for half the price. They only use it a couple of years anyway!
2. Toys. We’ve spent so little money on toys — yet our house overfloweth. Between birthdays and Christmas and older neighbor kids donating their old stuff, it seems like my house is where toys come to multiply. We splurge on birthdays and holidays, but check garage sales for toys before hitting the store. Often used toys have YEARS of life still left in them, so why pay full price when you can get something barely used for $5? My town has an online garage sale site, too, that is great for scoring things for cheap or free (like a Spiderman umbrella that saves the day on rainy days!).
3. Clothes. I feel like I spent close to nothing on clothes for a few years. Between gifts for the babies and hand-me-downs from an older niece and nephew and a neighbor who always had extras to pass over, I’ve saved easily a thousand dollars or more on clothes. Kids are so hard on clothes and they outgrow them so fast that it’s never worth it to me to spend a lot on clothes. Seasonal items like snow pants and snow boots are always great to get used — or on clearance for the next year. I pass along my savings, too; every couple of months I’m texting Jenn to see what sizes Gwen is wearing and I put together a box of our old stuff to ship to her. Plus, it’s fun seeing Gwen wear clothes that I’ve loved. Don’t be afraid of the garage sale either — I’ve scored amazing deals on clothes when I’ve happened upon garage sales. There are also sites like Schoola that sell quality used clothing (including maternity wear!) while raising money for communities.
Where do you save money on kids’ expenses? I’ve also found that getting season passes to the zoo more than pays for itself over a year’s time. —Erin