A recent government study estimates that raising a child from now until age 18 will cost parents approximately $235,000.
Not including college.
That’s about $13,055 per year.
About $1088 per month.
Without adding in annual inflation…. So……
The important take-away item here is NOT TO PANIC.
Inhale. Exhale. Deep breaths.
This price tag includes housing, food, transportation, child care, and education.
And that’s for one. ONE.
Don’t forget to save for your own retirement.
Are you laughing now?
Here in the Smith House, Mrs. Smith runs a tight ship with the ol’ monthly budget.
Here’s a snapshot of we’ve found helps ease that $235K heartburn for us:
Do your homework. Finding the best deals on the necessary items, like diapers, isn’t hard with the plethora of mommy blogs out there. We use AmazonMom.com’s Subscribe & Save for our diapers, which runs approximately $34/month. And is delivered free to my doorstep on the 15th of every month. One less thing to worry about. (And which means if you’re counting… even with that great deal, we’ve spent about $500 on diapers since H made his debut. I can’t even think about what $500 would be in a 529 account with compound interest in 18 years.) With wipes, usually Publix, CVS, or Babies ‘R Us runs a special every 12 weeks, and if you pair that with couponing… BAM. Stock up and Save.
Speaking of 529 accounts… It’s never too early to start saving for college. We use the CollegeCount 529 account for a monthly ration for H’s future education. It’s on automatic transfer, with bonuses scheduled for Christmas and Birthday. Just what every child puts on their Wish List, right? Bonus: you get tax credit in the state of Alabama for your contributions.
Using your present funds wisely, like having a Dependent Care Account, eases your annual tax burden. My employer offers a DCA Account, in which we take full advantage, for H’s school. DCA Accounts rock my world, because basically, it lessens our income tax burden by $5000, which is currently the maximum you can contribute on a pre-tax basis. (Note: I’m not sure how this will change with all the new healthcare reform, since I’m reading that Flexible Spending Accounts contributions will decrease to a $2500 max. starting 2013.)
Join. There are a ton of freebie organizations for your money-saving prowess. Publix Baby Club is a great one – free to join, plus they send you coupons and baby sale notifications all the time. Cash in on Pampers and Huggies freebie points that come with every package of diapers you buy.
Get over the hype on having expensive clothing for your little one for daily wear and tear. Because you know what? Every day at school there is either some kind of art project, outside play, messy food, or Code Brown (you know what I’m talking about) incident. And that $75 you dropped on that new smocked outfit doesn’t have the same sparkle with stains, now does it? I have loved shopping our area’s Consignment Stores and Seasonal Sales, scouring out the best bargains for my little man. And I don’t mind one bit if he comes home with paint, mud, and dried mac-n-cheese on that $3 t-shirt. We reserve the cute outfits for special occasions, and I have a rule that I don’t spend over $25 on those outfits. Except on very, VERY, special occasions. My favorite spots around Birmingham are Korduroy Krocodile, Short n’ Sweet Shop, Little Lavender, and our Fall & Spring Area Consignment Sales. And I’ve been lucky to scoop up great deals by taking advantage of seasonal clearance bargains at Old Navy and Gap. Like, even buying ahead of time for 18 – 2 years of age, since I know what season he’ll be in around that age.
Recycle. I’m on a toy rotation with H. That’s right – I sock away a handful of his toys in his closet, and then rotate them out with a new group every couple of weeks. Keeps things interesting, and he gets a “fresh” batch of toys.
Listen to other mommies. This might be the most important one, because no one knows the number crunching like other moms. They know the where the best deals are and what you actually need. For example, word on the mommy street is that Target-brand size 4 diapers are an easy substitute for Pampers and Huggies, saving you a little over $10 a month. Anyone else hear this little tidbit? Should I take the bait?