Could these 3 little ones really be sucking up all our money? Uhhh...yeah!
On top of the usual costs such as clothes, food, healthcare, diapers/wipes and the such, preschool's really the first big budget item we've come across to date and so it's only just begun.
According to this USDA calculator, our kids will cost us a total of $46k/year until they're 18. (I tried a couple of cost calculators and this was actually the lowest result. You can also adjust the numbers to include any exact costs you already are aware of.)
As for college, according to CNNMoney.com's calculator, it'll cost anywhere from $65-90k/year for each of my kids. There will be 3 years during which I will have 2 kids in college at the same time and 1 year, all 3. Um...yeah, no comment.
So while Gunn is working on bigger vision for our family's finances, I'm making some efforts to trim our current expenses further. I don't think our spending is frivolous so it's going to be hard to do this but I'm determined to make changes that will have real noticable results in our bank account.
In no particular order, here's what I got:
1. HAND ME DOWN CLOTHING
I'll still get a couple of special items but only if they're on sale. Fortunately, Iann's birthday is only a week after Maxx's so I can recylce all the boys clothes and get double use. I got a ton of stuff from a friend for Maxx & Ellie. It felt like Christmas. Thanks S!
> I spend at least $150 about 4x/year for both M & E so I could probably save at least $500 here.
I nursed Maxx for 3 months, then supplemented for the next 3 months, then went fully to formula at 6 months. Ellie was almost completely a formula fed baby because there was just too much pain and difficulty. They say it's hard to go back to breastfeeding after not doing it for the last child. Well it's true but I am proud to say that I did it! And I'm so glad cause it's so much better for him too.
> They say you spend an average of $40 on formula/wk on babies. So in the remaining 9 months, I should be saving about $1500 by nursing Iann.
3. EAT WHAT WE HAVE
I need to cook and eat what we have in the fridge, freezer, pantry and garage (more storage) before stocking up on new stuff. And no more ordering in to satisy a quick craving. Sometimes I need to remind myself I'm not pregnant anymore!
> I'm going to ballpark the cost of all the food I have in my house at about $250.
4. CUT DOWN EXPENSIVE FOOD SHOPPING
This includes the best cuts of prime rib from COSTCO, angus kalbi from Hmart (Korean supermarket), meat/cheeses, various seafood, etc. My household tends to buy the absolute best quality for everything as well as expensive types of foods on a regular basis. Must save it for the special occassions. Good thing we don't have big drinkers in the house.
> This will easily save us at least $500/year.
5. EAT OUT ONLY WHEN I HAVE A COUPON
Between restaurant.com and all the groupon-like sites, I have a few stocked up and there're always great deals so I'm hoping to never have to pay in full for a restaurant experience again...unless I'm not the organizer.
> If I estimate one date night/month, plus some of our special occassions, we should be able to save at least $350/year.
6. PACK LUNCH
To be realistic, for Gunn, I'll aim to do 3 out 5 days/week. Sandwiches, pasta, leftovers...should be doable. Also, no more buying expensive lunches at parks, zoos, etc.
> Gunn spends $8 on average per day. If I'm conservative and estimate $3/packed lunch, then I'm saving $5/day which is $15/wk multiplied by 50 weeks (accounting for 2 weeks of vacation). Tack on another $100 for weekend family trips and you get $850.
7. DRINK WATER AND MAKE COFFEE AT HOME
Don't buy juice or soda when water's the healthier and cheaper option. And anticipate (iced) coffee cravings and make it at home to take with me on the road.
> If I cut out 1 juice/soda and 1 iced coffee/wk, I'd save over $200/year.
8. CONTINUE CUTTING KIDS HAIR AT HOME
I've been cutting the kids hair at home and was going to only do it for a little bit since the kids are so young but I think I'll continue. All the practice has gotten me pretty decent anyways.
> $25/cut x 2 boys x 12 months = $600, $25 x 4 times for Ellie = $100....nets at $700/year
9. BUY ONLY WHAT WE NEED
Until finances are in a better place, no more "wants" allowed. This includes toys for the kids as well as home goods and accessories for myself and electronics and games for Gunn.
Only exception will be gifts which we will cap at $50/occassion.
10. SHOP AROUND FOR BETTER RATES
Many people I know have saved hundreds by doing this for car insurance.
11. SAVE ON GAS
Check out this article on 75 gas saving tips. Not sure how to quantify this but it's eco-friendly as well.
12. SELL STUFF
Ebay, Craigslist or Amazon baby and maternity items, as well as general household items. My things are in top notch condition so I should be able to get something decent. My dad is trying to clean out his place so I'll be doing this for him too. Maybe I'll get some commission. ha!
> With all the baby gear I have, I should be able to get at least $500 in a year's time.
13. NO BIG VACATIONS
But only until our finances are better. How we will determine when that will be? Not sure. But we haven't been on a vacation since we had Maxx and don't plan on considering any until Iann is at least 2. Before we got married we spent thousands every year on multiple trips. I definitely appreciate the luxury of going on vacations now.
14. EBATES.COM AND MYPOINTS.COM
If I'm going to buy something online anyway, might as well collect points for free money & gift cards later on.
> I should be able to earn at least $100 in cash and gift cards in a year's time. It's likely only this low since I'm trying to not do any shopping anytime soon.
15. COLLEGE FUND GIFTS
When someone asks what gifts to get the kids, the answer will always be "college fund please".
16. GIVE GENEROUSLY BUT WISELY
I have the tendency to want to treat people often so sometimes I can be naive about it. I love to give and share but I need to do it "smarter". My friends and family think that some people take advantage of me in this way and that's not doing anyone any good.
17. REVIEW MY SPENDING
Make our "loose budget" more detailed & review Amex bill and bank account balances on a regular basis. Reviewing the numbers on a regular basis keeps you in check because it's so easy to stray from a budget.
Trust God with our overall finances.
Sometimes it's hard to think that all the little things will make a difference but I truly believe they will. The quantifiable savings above total to over $5k. Think about someone handing you a check for $5k one day and maybe that'll motivate you.
If you have any suggestions for any additional ways to save, please share!