Guest post from Sarah of The Jelly Jars
My husband and I have three kids, and every time I hear reports about how much it costs to raise just one child these days, I wince a little (the latest data says close to a quarter of a million dollars per child). But then I remind myself that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are some lessons that I’ve learned as we try to raise our kids without spending too much money on them:
1. How to get creative with activities.
We don’t have our kids in more than one activity at a time (such as soccer, swimming, gymnastics, etc.), encouraging them to fully engage in where they are, and refusing to believe the lie that we have to push them too hard from an early age in order for them to succeed later on.
Instead, we watch Youtube videos of gymnastics or ballet, for example, and either follow along with a tutorial or turn it into a fun family activity as we pretend our living room is the summer Olympic games.
2. How to find enjoyment through experiences rather than things.
In the spaces of our lives that aren’t taken up by school, work, or activities, we tend to do things together. We will go for a family hike, take a “nature walk” down the street, make muffins, or play a board game together.
We own plenty of toys, but we also try to teach our kids that the most joy in life comes from relationships rather than objects, and model that through how we spend our time together.
3. How to find great second-hand deals.
If you look at your local library, they probably have a section where they sell their old books for a fraction of what it costs to buy a new book. I’ve bought books at our library for a quarter each, greatly expanding our home book collection.
We tend to buy board games at the local thrift store for two or three dollars rather than the fifteen or twenty they cost brand new.
I also find gently used clothes that are still on trend at thrift stores, a huge benefit when kids grow so quickly and need new clothes so frequently!
4. How to make lots and lots of lunches!
I make lunches every day, not just school days. If it’s a Saturday and I know that we’ll be out running errands over lunchtime, I think ahead and pack a quick lunch.
Stopping to eat out add up quickly and I would much rather take ten minutes to put things together at home than get stuck with a big bill because we all got hungry before we got home.
5. How to teach our children about money.
From a young age, kids can begin to understand basic money concepts. By watching the ways we save, spend, and give, they are learning how to do the same.
Our kids have 3 jars labeled “Spend, Save, Give.” When we give out allowance, the kids split it equally among the three jars. The “spend” money can be used however they choose, the “save” money is money they are saving for a specific item, and the “give” is to encourage generosity.
An additional benefit in many of our methods is that they tend to be more relationally geared, creating a special bond in our family as we do life together.
Raising a family can be quite expensive, but these are tactics that work for us as we try to be wise in how we spend money in the process.
Sarah is a mountain-loving, dark chocolate-eating, Frank Sinatra-listening, owie-kissing, truth-telling, freelance writer/blogger who seeks out a passionate life with her husband and two kiddos. She writes at The Jelly Jars.
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