A lot of moms and dads will agree that one of the most expensive things parents can do is not only have a baby but raise them in this very costly world. From diapers to health insurance and all of the gadgets and gizmos that parents are pressured to buy, a tiny fortune ends up being spent before the child is even born.
And here’s the thing: the older children get, the more they end up taking out of pocket. And no, it doesn’t stop until they at least turn 18 years old (we won’t even count the expensive college years, because those loans are on them!)
But for the time being, a dollar can still be saved here or there without having to put too much effort into it.
Here are 20 tried-and-tested ways that can save money during a child’s toddler years. Yes, a truckload of money can be saved if all of the cute “blue” or “pink” clothes are forgone, toys from the older siblings are stashed away, or better yet, invest in as much playground time as possible.
Take a look at our list below and let us know what you think by leaving us a line with your thoughts in our comments section below.
20 Buy Things Off-Season
If you are looking to go skiing with your family during the winter months, consider buying all of your gear during the summer. And if you are planning on doing a beach vacation during spring break or after the school year, think about buying your bathing suits in the winter.
In other words, buy everything you need off-season when it’s less in demand. There’s more of a chance that you’ll be able to snag the best deals when no one else is buying the things you need. Plus, you will be months ahead of schedule on your vacation shopping list!
19 Limit Television Time (And Pressure From Commercials)
Sure, too much television time is never good or healthy for you, regardless of what age you are. But as we know, kids can spend endless time in front of a screen or television without moving one muscle. That’s just how captivated they are whenever they play a game or watch one of their favorite programs.
Parents should limit their child’s television time for another reason: commercial.
Each time they see something they want, they’ll pressure you to buy it (just see our “I WANT” demands from above). Don’t give in, and better yet, turn off the television set altogether.
18 Teach Your Child Good Habits (Like Turning Off The Lights)
The family that saves money together is definitely the family that stays together. As much as you try to save money by pinching pennies or cutting costs here and there, you can’t do it all on your own.
A good way to get your family involved is by teaching your kids good money-saving habits while they are still young.
Some of the things they can do to help include turning off the lights or the fan whenever they leave a room or cutting down on their bath time. Every little bit helps, especially when it comes to the water and electricity bills.
17 Save On Trainer Underwear Or Pull-Ups
Here’s a little secret that a lot of parents of toddlers don’t know: trainer underwear and pull-ups are a huge waste of money. There’s a strong possibility that once your child is potty-trained, they might go straight from wearing diapers to regular underwear instead of the in-between pull-up stage.
Plus, wearing “big boy” or “big girl” underwear is a huge rite of passage for many toddlers.
They can’t wait to run around in underwear that has their favorite cartoon characters on it. A lot of parents find that once they buy trainer underwear, they really don’t need it. It’s overpriced and not really useful.
16 Save On Plates, Cups, And Utensils
A lot of parents have the impression that they need to buy kid-friendly plates, cups, and utensils for their toddler. That doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, you can forgo buying all of the plastic lunch and dinner accessories by having your child use your utensils instead. After all, it’s not like restaurants serve special utensils for their little customers at dining establishments, right? You don’t have to buy or serve everything that is kid-friendly at home, either, no matter how cheap it may be at your local IKEA. Have your kid eat their bowl of soup like big boys and girls do.
15 Skip The Costly Birthday Parties
Here’s another huge expense that does seem like a big waste of money: big birthday parties for your toddler.
We will save you all the time, the effort, and the money that you will put in by throwing an epic soiree for your kid by telling you this from the bottom of our hearts: your child won’t remember a thing. They won’t care for the decorations, the guest list, or the big bouncy houses.
Yes, they want to smash their faces in the cake, but that’s about it. Save the birthday parties for the elementary school years, when your child will actually remember them.
14 Dish Out Small Portions Of Food
A lot of parents don’t realize this, but moms and dads end up wasting a ton of money by overfeeding their children. Now, don’t get us wrong. Feeding your child is one of your job requirements as a parent and something that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
But when it comes to serving your child breakfast, lunch, and dinner, try dishing out small portions of food, especially if you have a picky eater.
Chances are that your child will only eat about a quarter of what is on their plate. The last thing that you want to do is throw away any leftover food they refuse to eat.
13 Limit Costly Activities
As cute as it is to put your son in his first soccer club or to sign up your daughter for ballet and gymnastics classes (because the tutu is too adorable, you guys), just think of all the money you can save if you did all of these activities later on in their lives.
Let’s face it: toddlers just want to sing and dance in their underwear and roll around in the backyard.
As fun as it is to share all of these cute photos of your 2-year-old pretending to be Serena Williams on the tennis court, these activities can put a huge dent in your wallet, too.
12 And Spend More Time At The Playground
Forget the tap, ballet, jazz or peewee t-ball teams and do what parents have been doing for generations: take your kid to the local playground. You don’t have to sign up to go, you don’t have to buy new shoes, equipment or costumes and you certainly don’t have to worry about sign up fees or monthly withdrawals from your checking account.
If that weren’t enough, there’s also a good chance that your kid will meet some great friends and that you might run into a few mom friends at the park playground, too.
It’s a win-win situation for all.
11 …. Or Play Dates With Friends
If the weather isn’t right for a playdate at the park (or anywhere that is outdoors, like a splash pad), then consider inviting a few of your mom friends and their kiddos to your house for an afternoon of play. You can even make it potluck style and have everyone bring a snack or lunch option for your group. You’d be surprised by how much fun your child will have surrounded by their playmates at home. Plus, he or she will have all of their slightly used or gender-neutral toys at their disposal. Before you know it, your babe will be the coolest kid in the neighborhood...
10 Sell Their Clothes On eBay
With the above being said, if you are looking for a way to cash in on your children’s slightly worn or used clothing items, think about selling the clothes they’ve outgrown on eBay. Raising children is perhaps one of the most expensive things you will do during your lifetime and let’s face it, no one wants to pay retail prices for a pair of baby booties. If you have baby clothing that is in good condition, think about listing your items on the eBay marketplace.
You’d be surprised to see just how much money you can make while buying and selling online.
9 Always Carry A Water Bottle And Snacks
A fast and easy way to save money on an everyday basis is to always carry a water bottle and snacks for your toddler, especially if you are out and about. You’d be surprised how much a pretzel and popcorn during your Target run or a cake pop at Starbucks can add up to at the end of the week.
Skip it all together. Instead, make sure that things like bottle waters, goldfish, crackers or other snacks are a staple in your handbag or baby bag, just like your car keys, your wallet and your phone are. Trust us, kids are hungry and thirsty all the time.
8 Don’t Say No To Hand-Me-Down Clothes
As a parent, it’s without a doubt that you want the best for your children. But keep in mind that they are also growing at a very rapid pace, and especially during the first few years of their lives.
There really is no need to spend a lot of money on designer clothes as there’s a very strong chance that they will outgrow most of the items after only wearing them a handful of times.
With that being said, don’t say no to hand-me-down clothes, especially if you are on a tight budget. It’s a great way to save money all year round.
7 ….. Or Hand-Me-Down Toys
Slightly or gently used clothing isn’t the only thing that you can save money on during the toddler years. You should also consider using hand-me-down toys, especially if it’s available to you.
Children love to keep themselves pre-occupied with toys and quite honestly, they really don’t care where it comes from.
As a matter of fact, some kids will play with the boxes and wrapping paper before they will even touch the actual toys. Kids are not picky; All they want to be is entertained. There’s really no need to spend a fortune on their entertainment, especially if the magic only lasts for a short time.
6 Buy Neutral Toys
Also, if you are looking to save money on multiple children, consider buying neutral toys for your family. This way you don’t have to worry about buying a set of just boy toys or girl toys, especially if you plan on handing them down to future siblings or cousins (although there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that, mind you).
Educational and neutral toys though are a better option as they provide endless fun for kids of all ages and can also be passed down to the next generation, too. Puzzles, anything arts and crafts related or electronic toys are a few good options.
5 Research Daycare Options
Another great way to save on everyday toddler expenses is to do your homework on daycare options. If you live in a big city or in the suburbs, there’s a good chance that you might have a multitude of babysitting or daycare options to choose from.
When picking a daycare facility that is right for you and your child, make sure you look into several different factors that include safety, accommodations and of course, affordability. You don’t want to break the bank by handing over half of your wage to your child’s daycare or preschool, as it is in most cases.
4 Save Money On Apps
These days, the best thing you can do is shop from home and in the comfort of your pajamas. There’s no need to brave the department store crowds or hassle for a good parking spot when all of the best deals are online. What’s more, there are plenty of money saving apps that are available at your fingertips.
You can also teach your kids how to save money with digitized piggybanks like Save!, FamZoo, Savings Spree, Allowance and Chores Bot, Bankaroo, Kids Money and so many others.
This way everyone can learn how to be money smart before the first day of Kindergarten rolls around.
3 Buy Slightly Used Items
As many parents know, there are plenty of big-ticket items that moms and dads have to buy even before the baby arrives. From cribs to strollers and even nursery furniture, you’ll end up spending a little fortune before your precious child enters this world. Luckily, you don’t have to pay full price for a bassinet or a crib that your child will only use for a few short months or years. Instead, consider buying slightly used items from eBay, Amazon or Craiglist. You’ll end up saving hundreds of dollars in the long run. Plus, it’s not like your baby will even notice!
2 Cut Down On Restaurant Visits
This might be hard for stay-at-home parents (especially if you are used to spending most of your time at home or indoors while raising your kids), but try and cut down on fast food and restaurant visits. It’s another bill that ends up creeping at you unexpectedly.
Sure, it’s a lot of fun hanging out with your mom friends and having an impromptu play date at your local Chick-Fil-A, but you can save the money by moving it over to your household instead. Plus, making lunch and dinner and ultimately eating the majority of your meals at home is always so much healthier.
1 Don’t Give Into Demands
Do you have an “I Want,” “I Want,” “I WANT,” child at home? I’m sure we’ve all had one at one point, right? As a parent, you need to be strong. You need to show strength. And you definitely need to set your foot down and don’t give in to your toddler’s demands, no matter how much they yell or how loud their toddler tantrum gets in the middle of a Target or Wal-Mart store.
Sure, your kid might want that LOL Surprise Doll NOW, but chances are, 24 hours later, they will totally forget about it.
That’s just how fickle these little creatures can get!
References: babble.com, scarymommy.com, huffingtonpost.com, cafemom.com, fatherly.com, parents.com