Having a child is one of the most life-changing events in one’s life, saying this would not be an understatement. It has an impact on the decisions related to home, its decor, travel, career, and most importantly on finances. As parents, we want to give our children the best start in life, and the best is usually in most cases assumed as new things. One could go overboard with buying the cradle, cot bed, stroller, lots of toys, soft toys, different feeding bottles, sippy-cups, play gyms, and much other fancy stuff. Many items are known only when we become parents, even our parents had not heard of them.
Most parents notice a decrease in the savings, as the expenses shoot up drastically and for few others, it is a wakeup call to align their finances. Savings with kids can be challenging but with mindful spending and intentional living, it’s not difficult. Let’s explore some of the ways to increase savings with kids aged 0 to 5 years to stay on the path to financial independence and early retirement (FIRE).
- Modern Cloth diapering – While traditional langots are used as cloth diapers but now most new parents have switched to disposable diapers. These synthetic diapers though convenient are quite heavy on pockets and are not eco-friendly. Now modern cloth diapers (MCD) are wash and wear diapers that have less harmful chemicals, make it easier to potty train, and helps you to save a significant amount of money. There are many types of MCDs such as pre-folds, flats, fitted, covers, pockets, all in one (AIO), all in twos, training pants, bamboo, microfiber, hemp & charcoal inserts amongst others. Indian brands include Bumpadum, Superbottoms, Mummamia, Easy Feel, Bumberry, etc. and international brands include Alva, Thirties, Blueberry, Grovia, Bambino, BumGenuis, etc.
- Breastfeeding and pumping milk – World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth. They recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age and beyond. There are natural ways to increase breast milk supply. Many new moms don’t know this resulting in stopping breastfeeding and switching to powdered milk. These powdered milk are quite expensive and less nutritious compared to breast milk. Breast milk is known as liquid gold and it’s free, moreover, the composition of the breast milk changes as per the child’s age and needs. When the child is sick, the breast produces antibodies to help fight infection. Cosleep with your baby to breastfeed easily. Mothers can pump milk and store it for more than 6 months in the freezer, if they need to return to work or while they are away for a brief period. Popular electric breast pumps include Medela, Spectra, and Lansinoh.
- Babywearing – You need not spend on strollers and buggy, as babywearing carriers are the best way to keep your baby with you and also helps in keeping your hands free. You can wear your baby for daily walks, travel, parks, gardens, and even do yoga and exercise (under expert supervision) while wearing your baby. Many types of carriers are available like ring slings, pouch, soft structured carriers, mehdai, toddler carriers, compact, onbu, grow with me, etc. Always buy ergonomic carriers that suits your needs. Indian brands include Anmol Baby Carriers, Soul Slings, Easyfeel, and international brands Tula, Boba among others.
- Baby-led weaning – You just need a booster seat or high chair, to begin with, infants start eating finger foods and pre-loaded spoons on their own with little encouragement. Even water can be given in steel, silver, or copper utensils. You don’t need to spend on baby food processors, BPA free bottles & containers, sippy cups, fancy cutlery, processed baby foods, etc. Buy organic wherever possible and give only homemade stuff without mashing.
- Avoid packaged baby food – Many advertisements make you feel that your growing child require packaged food right from the time when they are introduced solids. Later, they make you believe that protein and calcium drinks are very essential for their growing years but it’s not true, just look up the proportion of sugar in the ingredients list and you will understand that they do more harm than good. Processed sugars in a high proportion (30-50%) are not healthy for anyone, forget about young kids.
- Buy open-ended and wooden toys – To ensure the child brain development, you should invest in open-ended toys, as these enhance creativity and encourage eye-hand coordination and gross motor skills, which is highly essential for the brain development of the child. In battery-operated toys, plastic and musical toys, there isn’t much for the kids to do. Open-ended toys include Lego toys, magnetic tiles, Jenga blocks and other wooden toys easily available on Amazon, Flipkart, Firstcry, etc. These open-ended toys last long and can be passed on as preloved.
- Buy or use preloved stuff – Earlier families used to keep the clothes and give it the newborns of siblings, not because they couldn’t afford it, but because the used cloth is soft on the baby’s skin. From car seats to books, you can get good stuff at reasonable prices on WhatsApp group, second hand and preloved Facebook groups for all ages. Many times new or sparingly used clothes, toys, etc. are available at attractive prices as their babies have outgrown. You too can sell your unused toys, books, babywearing carriers stuff, and save some money in exchange.
- Low key birthday parties – Birthday parties need not be extravagant. Nowadays new parents spend a bomb on theme-based parties, beaches parties, McDonald’s parties, etc. You could plan for a simple celebration with few friends and relatives at home with polite messages to guests to not get any gifts. Nowadays kids have too many toys, colors, books, etc. and somewhere the value of things is disappearing. You too, might not like to encourage the concept of giving return gifts. The focus on creating memories, and having a great time is more valuable. You can use the money saved for traveling or investing.
- Traveling with kids – Kids are very flexible, hence traveling while they are young helps them to explore the various cultures, cuisines and meet different people. Airlines charge only 10% for infants below 2 years, with no extra seat. Besides, till about 12 years, you don’t need to pay extra charges for separate beds in hotels, as they are provided free of cost. The tickets to the attractions, amusement parks are less expensive or free for kids.
- Doing activities at home – Kids do not always need expensive toys to play. You can search for DIY activities and games for toddlers and preschoolers that can be done at home to keep the kids occupied. You can also get fun engaging and educational worksheets for kids. They are happy to do simple activities at home like transferring items from one container to another, newspaper arts, playing with kitchen utensils, scissor activities, and you too can enjoy activity time.
- Playing games – Taking kids to malls, shopping centers would increase expenses on gaming, amusement activities, and shopping. These give momentary happiness and increase unnecessary consumption. Kids should have less screen time and play indoor games such as ludo, snakes and ladders, junior monopoly to understand money at an early age, etc. and outdoor games like football, basketball, cricket, sand games at beaches, parks, open places, etc. Most of these activities are less expensive and enhance the concentration and gross motor skills of kids.
- Education and Learning – Many parents want to put their kids in the most expensive school just to fit in with peers and society. Do not get in that pressure, do your research and then send to the school whose fees and curriculum suits your future aspirations for your kids and not to show off. Also, there is no rush to put your kid in playschool when the kid is barely 18 months old. Every day and in every way the kid is constantly learning, so don’t think that only that school or its methods are the best. Many parents are now open to the concept of homeschooling their children. Be flexible and open to new ideas.
- Green Parenting – One must plant your own fresh and organic micro-greens and vegetables by making your own compost at home. This helps to save on groceries, our kids eat lesser toxins, get good health, and learn about nature, waste management early on. There is excitement to see the new bud or even a leaf. One must try to become a home gardener and/or home harvester in a small way.
- Adopt frugality and minimalism – If you already have lots of stuff around then frugality and minimalism is an excellent solution for saving money. You would not need that extra cupboard or extra room to store unnecessary items. Fewer things mean less stress. Decluttering helps to save money, creates more space, increases creativity, and imaginative power. Kids learn to make the best use of what’s available. Buy only essential items Do not make an impulse purchase based on any recommendation, research, and then buy keeping in mind the need and longevity of that item.
- Make kids financially savvy – Talk about money, budgeting, saving, investing with kids right when they are young to make them savvy with finances as personal finance is not taught in schools. When they understand the value of money then, they would not make unnecessary demands and save money themselves and invest it for their future.