Tags: Featured Article, Featured Article, In This Issue, Parenting
There's no way around it: kids are expensive. In fact, a recent study on the cost of raising a child by economist Mark Lino of the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the cost of raising a child born in 2012 at roughly $241,080 -- not including college.
But there are many ways to keep costs down: buying in bulk, shopping second-hand, and simply timing your purchases right. And with the holidays fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start saving money.
Buying in bulk
When you're purchasing baby items regularly – think formula, diapers, wipes and other supplies – buying in bulk not only saves you money, but also time.
Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club are probably the first places that come to mind – and with good reason. For a small annual fee, members have access to thousands of items at wholesale prices. In fact, Costco-brand diapers have been named one of the best deals, for both exceptional quality and price.
If you want to avoid the whole shopping-with-kids experience altogether, consider signing up for an online shopping service. For example, Amazon Mom is a free program for parents and caretakers of small children. Members can take advantage of free, two-day shipping, 20% off diapers and wipes and special promotions on kids' items. For those items purchased monthly, members can sign up for automatic delivery via the retailer's "subscribe and save" program.
At the rate kids grow, you can invest a small fortune keeping them clothed. Between shoes, clothing and outerwear, it's a challenge to keep your little one in the right size. Then there's the stuff: changing tables, cribs, beds, high chairs, etc. And, of course, toys and books to match your child's growing interests and needs. Add it all up, and that's a lot of money spent on items that will only be used for a short period of time.
The solution? Buy used! Craigslist is a great resource for parents, offering everything from cribs to jogging strollers to clothing. If there is something particular you're looking for – say a train table for your Thomas-loving tot – consider keeping tabs on Craigslist, as your patience will generally pay off.
There are also loads of second-hand stores around the Indianapolis area specializing in kids' items. Selling clothing, baby items, and toys galore, Once Upon A Child is a great place to score secondhand kids' products. Meanwhile, Growing Spurts sells gently used clothing, nursery items and even cloth diapers. With both an online store and retail location in Indianapolis, this secondhand store allows parents to shop at their convenience.
Lastly, be sure to keep your eyes open for large consignment events. Indy's annual Whale of a Sale event is the largest in the area, and boasts upscale kids items and apparel. Not only can you score big savings at this event – you can also sign up to be a seller, and make some extra cash for your family.
Email signups, joining store's promotional programs
With the holidays coming up, budgets can fall by the wayside – but they don't have to. In fact, you can still visit your favorite retail, toy and bookstores without breaking the bank.
For starters, signing up to receive store emails is an easy way to get coupons delivered to your inbox. Often, retailers will market special sales and discounts to email members. For example, Old Navy and the Gap constantly run promotions via email, making it easy for parents to coordinate their purchases with sales.
Local brick-and-mortar stores frequently utilize technology to offer special savings to customers. Beloved Indianapolis bookstore Kids Ink is on Twitter (@KidsInk), and uses this platform to notify customers of special sales and events. In fact, most stores now utilize social media to connect with customers, so be sure to seek your favorite places out on the web.
So yes, kids are expensive, but there are lots of ways to cut costs. And with all the money you save, perhaps you can set aside some cash for a date night (and, of course, your kids' college funds!)