GUEST COLUMN: The cost of kids

Tips on how to save money when you are raising your kids.

Wow, kids are expensive to grow! According to moneysense.ca, it costs approximately $243,660 to raise a child until they graduate from high school.

That’s not even including the cost of university.

I have a couple of my own kids so I know how financially draining they can be. Just remember the cost does go down somewhat when they start school and you no longer have day care costs, diapers, baby gear and such to pay for. Of course, that is probably offset by larger appetites, more expensive clothes and activities.

I have some clients that have young children and they are feeling the squeeze in their monthly budget. Here are some tips on how to save money with your kids.

When they are very young, try to get a lot of the big items from friends and family – items like strollers, gates, and high chairs. You need to make sure they are still safe, of course. You can check online for a recall on the product. The crib and car seat are best bought new – by the time the previous owner got out of them, they are too old.

Buying second hand for clothes and sports equipment will save you a lot of money in the long run. Check out second hand stores like the Salvation Army, garage sales and community events (there is a kids garage sale at the Vernon Recreation Centre which is a great place to buy and sell). Kids grow out of pants, skates and everything else so quickly you can find some good prices on gently used items.

One way to save money and stress is to not enroll your child in every extra-curricular activity you can think of. Not only is it expensive to put your child in music, swimming, dance, baseball, hockey and soccer, you will be far too rushed every night to get your kids to their events. You really do start to feel like a taxi driver for your children.

Pick one thing at a time for the kids to do. That’s plenty and they will be happier too. My older son took guitar lessons for several years, and then switched to cross fit. My younger daughter goes to gymnastics once a week. That’s it.

To save money on diapers, wipes and things you need for a younger child, scan the flyers in the newspaper weekly to see what is on sale. When you see a bargain, stock up and it can be a real savings.

However, sometimes that can bite you. I bought three boxes of pull-ups at an incredible price, and then of course my daughter stopped using them at night about a month later. Someone will be getting a great deal on these at my next garage sale.

Speaking of garage sales, they are a great way to make some extra money to use towards your kids and reduce clutter in your house.

Day care is one of the biggest expenses that you can’t get around if both parents are working. Shop around and find someone you are happy with and close to where you live.

Remember, this big expense is only until they are five and head off to school, so if you balance your budget with this cost, that money will come available for other things when they go to school.

There is no way around it, kids are expensive. But you can minimize costs by finding deals and limiting extra-curricular activities. You can put that extra money into an RESP and start saving for their university education.

Kathi Bridge is a money coach and educator with Money Coaches Canada. This article is provided for information purposes only.