Tips on how to save money when raising kids. 

Here’s a fun fact that will make you want to rush out to get the snip.While the cost of rearing a rug rat varies from person to person, the Suncorp Bank Cost of Kids Report found that in 2016 the average cost of raising a child to 17 years of age was over $297,600!

When you factor in inflation, education costs and having to buy every new upgrade of the iPhone, that figure will go up exponentially. If you’re like yours truly and have three hungry mouths to feed, you’ll need a cool million set aside before you kick them out of the proverbial nest and into a shared apartment.

So, before they become too self-aware to have fine-tuned their fashion and material senses, here are some simple tips to help you save before they wise up to your ways.

Save money. Recycle.

Recycle everything

Lack of funds trumps sense of taste every single time. And there is no shame in hand-me-downs. I like to think of it as a rite of passage… we all had to put up with it when we were kids, why should our offspring be treated any differently? It’s the cycle of life.

So, if your kid has an older cousin, best friend, friendly neighbour or if you find a wayward bag of clothes dumped in front of a house on council clean-up day, go for it. It’s nothing that some boiling water and a little high-octane laundry detergent can’t sort out. Besides, they’ll grow out it in two months anyway.

And hey, if the clothes don’t quite match with the gender of your kid, just tell everyone you’re raising a gender neutral “theybie.” They’re all the trend these days. Plus, it will make a great story to share on their 21st birthday party. Everybody wins!

*Note – Recycling clothing comes in particularly handy with babies because they really have no idea what’s going on. Plus, their poop doesn’t discriminate between $5 and $50 outfits, and neither should you.

Sharing is caring – the shared economy

We teach our kids to share, so why aren’t you doing it? Practice what you preach and jump onto the shared economy bandwagon. The ecosystem is vast. Gumtree and eBay are my favourites. If you’re not taking advantage of them, you’re literally missing out on saving thousands.

For instance, say you want to buy a new buggie for baby. A decent one could set you back nearly $1000. Like a car, the moment you push it off the lot, it’s devalued by 30-40%. We bought a used Mountain Buggy 5 years ago for $100 and sold four years later for $70. So, basically we rented it for just over $7 per year. Moral of the story, find a good used item, take good care of it and then resell it. With the $930 you save, you can buy lots and lots of booze. Because brother, you’re gonna need it.

Regifting – another beautiful “re” word

Passing on a crappy gift to another unsuspecting recipient is as old as time itself. Although undocumented, I’m sure cavemen re-gifted clubs and spears to each other that were sub-par. We had old fruitcakes in America that did the rounds in our family circuit for years. So, don’t feel bad.

Now, re-gifting also works with your kids, too. Giving them the same toy that you already gave them is as fun and acceptable as it is hilarious. Remember that sweet little stuffed dog toy with the fluffy floppy ears that you got them for Christmas last year that’s lost in the toy box of no return? Dig it out and surprise them with an Easter gift. Say it’s a dog-bunny hybrid. Your kid’s face will say it all. Especially the mouth part.

Of course, if you’re feeling guilty about taking this road, donating all your unloved toys to a less fortunate family at Christmas is perhaps the most noble idea.  It teaches your kids some beautiful life lessons, and you will all have fun giving as well.

Lie about their age – 3 rhymes with FREE!

A diminutive 5-year-old can pass for budding 3-year-old any day of the week. Just make sure that the attendant doesn’t ask them how old they are, because you don’t want to teach your little ones to lie (besides, they’ll most likely tell the truth and out you, anyway). But if you do get busted, just say they don’t know how to count yet. By the time the attendant figures it out, you’re already on the ride. Sucker!

Save money. Lie about their age.

BYOP – Bring Your Own Popcorn

This tactic works well into adulthood, so why not start them on good habits while they’re young. Markup on popcorn at the theatre (and everything else, for that matter) is roughly 200-500%. So, do yourself a favour, throw some in your microwave and bag it yourself. Or better yet, sneak in some fruit. It’s better for everyone.

These are just a few simple ways to save money and save face at the same time. Just keep telling yourself that your kids are too young to know how cheap you are. That way you’ll feel so much better about being a tight-ass. See, you’re smiling already.