The costs of raising a family can be considerable. In its 2014 "Expenditures on Children by Families" report, the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that parents in middle-income households with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend $245,000 raising a child up to age 18. While estimates regarding the cost of raising children are widely varied depending on the source of the approximations, it's fair to assume that raising children can be costly as well.
Thanks to the costs of food, housing, childcare and education, many parents find themselves looking for ways to trim their everyday expenses and create more room in their budgets. Fortunately, such cost-cutting can be done without forcing parents to alter their lifestyles dramatically.
1. Consume less energy.
Reducing energy consumption does not mean parents and their children will spend their nights in darkened homes illuminated only by candlelight. Technology has made it easier than ever before to cut energy costs around the house. If you don't already have one, install a programmable thermostat at home so you are not paying to heat or cool your home while no one is there. Though their price tag might be higher than traditional light bulbs, energy-efficient light bulbs also can cut costs, as they consume considerably less energy without reducing light output and last far longer than traditional bulbs. Parents can also reduce the temperature on their water heaters. Manufacturers may set water heater temperatures as high as 140 F, and it requires considerable standby heat to keep waters at that temperature. Lowering your water heater temperature to 120 F won't make showers any less enjoyable, but you might notice considerable energy savings over the course of the year.
2. Conduct an entertainment audit.
Home entertainment options have expanded considerably in the 21st century. Many families still pay for cable or satellite packages, but they're now also paying for streaming subscriptions to services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Audit your entertainment consumption, determining whether your household relies more on cable/satellite service or streaming subscriptions. Consider reducing your cable/satellite package to the basic plan, if not cutting the cord entirely. If your family is less reliant on streaming subscriptions, cancel those subscriptions to save money. If you rely on both equally, consider cutting one for a month to see if you can live without it. With so many entertainment options available, chances are you won't even notice the missing service.
3. Become a smarter food shopper.
Frequent trips to the grocery store waste gas, add unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle and increase the chances you will make impulse purchases. Try to get all of your grocery shopping done in one weekly trip, using a list so you are less likely to make impulse purchases. Make the most of sales by buying sale items with longer shelf lives, such as cereals, in bulk.
Saving more money is a goal for many families. While saving more often means making sacrifices, those sacrifices do not always necessitate drastic lifestyle changes.