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How To Save Money While Raising Children

I once read advice that the best way to save money is to avoid taking financial responsibility for anything that eats. I suppose that’s great advice if you’re a robot.

We human beings tend to assume other living things enrich our lives. We collect pets and plants and, hopefully, we eventually collect spouses and children (or maybe just one spouse).

If you’re like me and the idea of saving money by not raising a family sounds abhorrent, then read on and I’ll tell you ways to save cash while raising your children to be responsible adults and contributing members of society.

Some of these suggestions are common sense when you stop to think about them. This makes me wonder why more parents don’t, in the decade and a half they have to consider these questions, have a more well-thought, common sense approach. People lose perspective and every parent makes mistakes, but some mistakes are avoidable.

Everything below falls into that category.

Don’t Let Your Kids Watch TV All Day

How to Save Money While Raising Kids

Raising a Family Is Expensive, But Enriches You in So Many Other Ways.

You might think the television is a good babysitter. You might think the tv helps you sleep in and get a little extra rest. Even if you think the tv set is a poor substitute for your company, you and your spouse might be tempted to think broadcast television is a cheap form of entertainment. It absolutely is expensive–and I’ll tell you why.

Kids watching television are bombarded by commercials. They get endorsements for new toys, new games, and new types of cereal. They’re taught to emulate the kids on Nickelodeon and Disney TV, while they’re taught to love Justin Bieber and Victoria Justice. Most important, they are hit with consumer propaganda about how great it would be to buy this thing and how awesome it would be to have a hamburger with a prize.

One of the most expensive activities you could imagine is to have your children watch tv all the time. They come away with a head full of ideas about new purchases you need to make in order for them to be happy. Television is a trap.

I remember as a child, my older brother had a friend whose parents didn’t believe in televisions. When he visited our house, he would sit in front of that tv and watch anything. He was rapt, completely spellbound by that tv set. But when he went home, he was no longer exposed to television. He went on to become a vascular surgeon, instead of another consumer. But I can tell you as sure as I’m sitting here: he would have become a spellbound consumer, had his parents let him.

Settle in a Good School System

Don’t worry about sending your kid to a private school. Preparatory schools or prep schools are a good pipeline to Ivy League institutions, but they’re also terribly expensive. Also, the value of the Ivy League education has been greatly disputed in the last few years, anyway. The private school to private high education campus is a debt trap waiting to happen, from the money you spend on tuition when they’re still in grade school to the student loan process in its full horror at the postsecondary level.

Instead of the private academy, find a community with a proven superior school system. These exist and they’re every bit as good as most prep schools. When I say “superior”, I mean superior. Don’t settle for average or even good. Do your research and find out what the best in your area is–then relocate there. Those kids who excel in these public institutions will have all the opportunities the prep scholars have–at a fraction of the cost.

Don’t Spend on Extravagances

Don’t spend on designer clothes for younger children. That’s an insane thing to do. Don’t spend $100 or more on a cute dress that’s only going to be worn a few times. Avoid Brooks Brothers and Laura Ashley. Instead, buy durable clothing that might have value as a hand-me-down for the next kid in your little.

If you feel like you want to invest in your child’s upbringing, take the money you save and invest it in government bonds. After a few years of that, you’ll have the money to afford most of their university expenses. Remember, it’s only savings if you don’t spend it on something else you don’t need.

Extravagance comes in many forms. Don’t spend on fancy birthday parties when the child only wants to have fun with his or her friends. I’ll tell you something even crazier and more outrageous you should avoid, too.

Don’t Overspend on Sporting Memories

Avoid paying exorbitant amounts on their sports memories. I know someone in my extended family who has paid for three sons to play in select soccer their whole childhoods, taking them on expensive trips to both coasts during the holidays, along with 4-5 trips to Europe for tournaments. Those sound like great memories, but instead of seeing Switzerland and Italy and England, they saw a bunch of soccer fields. What’s more, this family put all kinds of pressure on these sons to get sports scholarships, because halfway through their childhood, they decided college was going to be too expensive for the parents to afford.


Just save the $6000-$9000 a year you paid for select soccer and the thousands you spent per year traveling to tournaments and other events. That money would have paid for university educations easily, if saved over 15 years time or so. By the way, by the time those boys became teenagers, they felt huge pressure to perform, so they ended up burning out on the sport and never got the scholarships that were hoped for. One got a partial scholarship I think, but another one had worn out his knees playing year-around all those years. The point being; don’t expect your kids to provide for their college through their hobbies. If it happens, it happens; it probably won’t.

Beyond the expenses, the foolhardiness of this approach should be apparent to all. Instead of sending a signal that education and learning was important, all this running around over a ballgame sent the real message that sports was more important than school. Sure, the parents were hoping all this would pay for school, but the kids don’t see that at the time. They see the parent stressing over soccer, not their homework. Kids learn from your example more than your words. I’d chalk it up to money well spent on good childhood memories, but all these boys (now grown) talk about how much they missed out on because they had to go play games every weekend of their young life.

Worse tragedies have happened, but this is just another example of parents making bad decisions, sending awful messages, and setting lousy examples for their kids…all through extravagance.

Learn the Value of “We Can’t Afford It”

Many parents don’t want to disappoint their children, so they spoil them. They don’t want to say “No” and they certainly don’t want to admit they cannot afford to give their kids everything the child desires. That’s a huge mistake and I’ll tell you why.

Telling a child “we can’t afford it” requires them to think responsibly from a financial perspective at an early age. The worst way to disappoint a child is to raise them to believe they’ll always have everything they want the instant they want it. Their crying fits and tantrums might work on your, but they’ll find it’s a bad strategy for about 99% of the rest of the people they meet in life.

Tell your children no. Tell them why you’re saying no. Teach them financial responsibility and restraint. This might light a fire in them that causes them to obsess about acquiring things when they’re an adult. More than likely, they’ll become well-adjusted citizens who understand the real value of money, frugality, and economic self-restraint. Those are good lessons to teach.

Overcoming Hopelessness

When you do so, remember to keep nurturing your children. Work harder. Save more. Do what you must to get your credit rating healthier. Get your household budget in order, and get your finances in order. That’s going to reduce stress in your life. When you are less stressed, you are a better parent for your children. When you overcome your own sense of helplessness, you can better nurture your children in their young life.

However difficult your situation, others have overcome even greater obstacles. Let me give one example: Nick Vujicic.

Nick Vujicic was the first special needs child to be integrated into the mainstream education system of Australia. You’ll see in the video why he had been segregated in the first place. His inspiring lecture goes back to his childhood, to parents who gave him love and nurturing and self-esteem and confidence to face the challenges in life.

Words are powerful.

Nick Vujicic had strong, loving parents who nurtured him through a difficult childhood. Whatever challenges your children face, they’ll be able to overcome those challenges if you teach them the same.

Only when you are strong and resolute will your children absorb that idea. If you are stressed, angry, or sullen, your children will see that in you and absorb that. Tell them “no”. Teach them consequences. But also teach them to surmount their troubles and excel in life. Show them how to succeed by succeeding yourself.

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