How to save money raising your family
Raising a family is expensive and is getting more expensive all the time, with the cost of living rising consistently in many Canadian cities.
“Unfortunately, the reality is for many Canadian families that costs continue to rise, but household income doesn’t quite bridge the gap. Many families end up adding to their debts just to make ends meet,” says Jeff Schwartz, Executive Director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
One study completed in 2015 put the cost of raising a child up to age 18 at over $13,000. This figure is likely even higher now, as child-specific costs and inflation rates have risen in the last couple of years.
With financial challenges seemingly at every turn for families on tight budgets, it’s even more important you find ways to get your household income to go further. Here are some ideas on how you can save money raising a family.
Cut food costs
“To say that trying to feed a growing family healthy food while staying on budget is hard to do is a vast understatement. In order to accomplish these objectives, parents need to be constantly vigilant and committed to smart shopping strategies to keep costs down,” says Schwartz.
For families with babies, buy your diapers and wipes in bulk and subscribe to manufacturers email lists to make sure you’ve always got coupons in the pipeline. Make your own baby food to save money.
As your family grows, make sure that you do meal planning every week, do inventory of what you’ve got before you shop to reduce food waste and take advantage of sales, coupons and price matching- literally every time that you shop.
Some other great ways to cut costs and eat healthier is to cut meat from your meals once or twice a week. If you’ve got the space to make it work, consider growing some of your own produce in season. It will cost far less and still provide your family with the nutrients that you need.
Take advantage of tax credits
Filing your taxes is important for a number of reasons, but for families it is a must. You’ve got to make sure that you’re taking full advantage of any tax credits available to you, which can really help to get your dollars to go further. Here is a link describing what Federal benefits and credits are available to families. There are also a number of tax credits and other benefits available at the Provincial and Municipal levels as well. Investigate in your local area. Take advantage of direct deposits wherever you can to make your budgeting and money management easier.
Parents of children with disabilities usually face even higher costs, but have lots of help as well. It’s worth tapping into all the financial support that you can.
Reduce child care costs
One of the largest costs in raising a child is childcare. The younger your child is, the greater the cost and in some cities child care costs a fortune. Try to reduce it any way that you can.
Is your employer open to shift work, flex-hours or telecommuting? You and your partner could shift schedules to reduce your paid child care hours, while still working. For other babysitting needs, swap care with friends who also have small children. Don’t be afraid to call on family to help as well during this expensive period in your life.
Keep debt down
One thing that may be eating away at your household budget is high debt. With interest rates increasing, it will cost you more and more just to carry that debt. Take steps to spend within your means with a cash-only lifestyle.
Also pay down your debt as quickly as your budget allows. Having that extra cash flow from low (or no) debt will boost your budget.