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Kids and Money Part 3

Welcome back to The Frugal Teacher. This week's column is Part 3 in a series that has focused on kids and money. Kids play a big role in your monthly spending, as I’m sure you’re aware. Stop for a moment and think about all of the costs you have in a month related to your children. Groceries? Definitely. Transportation and gas? You bet. Electricity, WiFi, cell phone, and streaming services? For sure. Those were the top costs that came to my mind but the list is really endless. Kids are expensive!

So how do we capture all of the costs associated with our children in a given month? We plan for it. I know many of you are not particularly fond of the word “budget.” As much as you may dislike that word, planning out a monthly budget that includes the true costs of raising kids today will help you stay on track financially so you don’t overspend.

Here are some tips for making your monthly budget kid-friendly:

Set boundaries. It’s easy to get caught up in activities once your child is school aged. You get excited when your child makes a sports team and may not realize all of the costs that come with it. Fees, uniforms, equipment, and travel expenses can really add up. It’s okay to set some boundaries with your children about how much the family can afford. Perhaps limiting the number of extracurricular activities or even setting a dollar amount that can be spent on hobbies, sports, or lessons works for your family. Either way, clear boundaries set ahead of time will allow you to put some limits in place.

Be realistic. Kids can eat a lot and your grocery budget needs to include some times in the year when kids are home more. It’s natural for your grocery budget to be higher in the summer months or perhaps over Spring break or Christmas break. Setting realistic expectations with your budget means no hidden surprises. The same can be true for your electric bill. When more people in the family are home during the day, more electricity is going to be used resulting in a higher power bill. Expect it and plan for it.

Meal plan. With all of our lives being super busy nowadays, it’s easy to hit the drive thru or get takeout instead of cooking. We use the excuse that we don’t have time to cook due to the kids having practice, ball games, etc. The truth of the matter is that we could plan a little bit better and have a crockpot going with a quick meal that’s ready to go by the time the family gets home. It does require some planning, though. Look over your family calendar on the weekends. See which days look the busiest and plan out some quick, easy meals. While you’re at it, go ahead and make a grocery pickup order so that you have everything you need to get through your busy week. You’ll save some money and have a plan in place for each day of the week. Write it down and put it on the fridge as a visual reminder of what you’re eating each night. Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make a plan, get the groceries, and stick to it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this 3 part series on kids and money. Next time will focus on windfalls (think your tax return) and how you can use the extra money to accomplish your financial goals.


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