parenting saving tips

10 Parenting Tips To Help Cut Your Expenses Even With Kids

Maintaining a family with children can be expensive. There are mouths to feed, school outings to pay for, annual outings, festivals, birthdays and the list goes on. With all the financial chaos you are going through, it can be very easy to spiral into debt if you are not careful.

However, with a few precautionary measures and some clever budgeting tactics, you can cut your expenses and give yourself some breathing space, financially.

1. Buy unisex clothing

If you plan to have more than one child, stay away from the stereotypical pink or blue outfits. Instead, purchase T-shirts, shorts, and pants that can be worn by both boys and girls. As kids outgrow their clothes pretty quickly, the clothes would most probably still look as good as new by your second, or even your third child!

2. Be big-ticket smart

Why pay RM1,600 or more on a fancy new stroller, when you can get it at half the price, preloved? Look for good deals online, such as Mudah.my or some Facebook groups, and you might just find decent condition designer stroller, baby crib, and toys at a fraction of the price.

If you must buy brand new, consider buying these big-ticket items at a general-purpose or discount furniture store, not at one that sells gears for kids exclusively. You’ll often save by doing so.

However, remember not to compromise on the quality of such big-ticket items. If you bought a good quality stroller, it would last through the years of wear and tear and you could very well use it for all your kids. If you had bought a low quality one, you may end up buying a brand new one for every child! In the end, it would cost you more money.

3. DIY your kids’ haircut

Each salon visit for your kid’s haircut can set you back by between RM40 to RM60. Even if you opt for the no-frills barber, it cost at least RM20 nowadays.

You can easily save this money by choosing to trim your child’s locks yourself. You only need some basic items such as spray bottle, scissors, and comb. If you invest in a basic hair trimmer for RM25 to RM40, you can use it throughout your kid or several kids toddler years. For step-by-step directions on how to cut your kids’ hair, there are various online resources that you can refer to.

4. Breastfeed

A tin of formula milk cost about from RM60 to over RM80 for a 600g pack. If you opt for specialised formulas like organic sourced milk or goat milk, the price can be double that. Not only is mother’s milk more nutrituous for your baby, it is beneficial for your wallet too.

The amount of formula milk you need will depend on your kid’s consumption – therefore, this is an on-going cost. Breast-feeding a child isn’t exactly free either – you will need to make several one-off cost, such as an electrical breast pump at about RM300, and other paraphernalia such as nursing bras, cream and lotion, and milk storage bottles and bags.  In the long run, you would still save money by breastfeeding your child for as long as you can.

5. Use cloth diapers or buy disposable ones in bulk

You can switch to cotton diapers instead of disposables ones. This not only save you a whole lot of cash, you will also be doing the environment a favour.

The initial cost to invest in reusable diapers can be quite high, going into several hundred ringgit. But these can be washed and re-used all the way to your next child.

If you must use disposable diapers, you can reduce your diaper bills by purchasing mega-size packages at warehouse clearance or sales. Look out for promotion at hypermarkets and buy in bulk when the price is right. Babies go through diapers really fast so there really isn’t much harm in buying in bulk.

6. Make your own baby food

Tired of paying for jars of mashed carrots or mango? A jar of mashed carrot can easily cost over RM15, and nutrition-wise, homemade vegetables and fruit puree beat pre-bottled puree anytime.

Get them fresh at the market or supermarket and puree these fruits or veggies yourself. It’s really not very difficult and they are a lot fresher and healthier without preservatives.

7. Avoid buying upfront

Don’t buy something for your kid until your kid actually needs it. One of the biggest mistakes some parents make was buying everything upfront and end up not using more than half the stuff.

Some parents would spend hundreds and thousands of Ringgit on various breastfeeding paraphernalia only to find out that they are unable to breastfeed or their kids wean off breastmilk after a few months. It’s not too late to buy these things when you need them.

8. Think long term for your kid’s bedroom

First-time parents especially tend to create an entire nursery room for an infant under two. From the crib, the glider, to the toddler toys that will need to go in the space, the expenses can round into thousands of ringgit.

Instead, parents should think ahead and prepare the room as to how a two to seven-year-old will use the room. Perhaps a low bookshelf to fit their bedtime story books, toys storage, a comfortable rug, and a convertible crib that can switch to a toddler bed.

By making these smarter options of what should go into your child’s bedroom, you will not need to change the contents of the room every year or two and waste more money.

9. Find free entertainment

Exchange some of the pricey kids’ classes you enroll your kids to with a visit to the local library or book-club. Libraries and bookstores have regular story hours. Your local library can be a great resource and it is free. In many places, you can also borrow magazines, music, movies and more.

Play dates can also be a great help in inculcating social skills in your child, and they are often free!

10. Don’t keep buying new toys

Young kids are usually a bundle of energy and sometimes you may be tempted to buy a whole set of playground equipment, bicycles, or even jumperoos, just to have five minutes of peace.

These items can often cost you an arm and a leg. Your first option should be to ask your friends or relatives for hand-me-downs. These items are usually durable and can be passed around among friends and family.

If you can’t find any, consider renting them. There are many options online to rent toys especially if you live in the Klang Valley.  However, you may need to fork out some money on deposit for big ticket items like motorised cars or doll houses.

This article was first published in April 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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