Country Living Series

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Attention urban parents!

When Don and I first decided to start a family, we were full of trepidation. It wasn't just the usual "Oh wow, this is a huge step" type of trepidation; it was compounded by the fact that at the time we were a penniless young couple surviving on a startup craft business, and our income (to put it charitably) was wildly uncertain.

These concerns were additionally multiplied by the horrific articles we'd see every so often about the high cost of raising children. "Warning! Danger! Horror! It costs [insert insane and completely unrealistic sum here] to raise a child to age 18!!!!!"


So, panicked and discouraged at these fiscal considerations, we waited five years before we gave any serious thought to having kids. But we wanted children. Then a friend gave us some sage advice: If we waited until we could afford to have kids, we'd never have kids.

Since we were already students of extreme thrift (we didn't have much of a choice, really), we decided to take the plunge. We vowed our baby would never suffer from any supposed lack of income. It was about this time I also realized something: much of the "high cost" of raising children reported in these scary articles didn't correlate in the slightest with how we wanted to raise children.


We learned that, aside from the usual considerations for children (some necessary furniture and a bit more room), most of these "high costs" are unnecessary and extraneous. In fact, the biggest "cost" associated with this figure is housing, in which parents presumably move to a bigger house in a "better" neighborhood with "better" schools to give their little darlings the "better" advantages.


But we took a different tact. We stayed in our tiny house in Oregon (850 square feet) and remodeled a large closet into a small bedroom. We did without all the usual stuff babies supposedly need -- changing table, walkers, even a stroller (we lived rural and a stroller was useless). Anything we did need (crib, high chair) was purchased second-hand (the exception being car seats). We homeschooled, so we didn't have to worry about the quality of the local school system (which, as it turned out, was a huge blessing when we moved to Idaho).

In short, articles like this, published January 9, are -- ahem -- full of baloney: "Raising a child is as expensive as buying a FERRARI! Costs to raise offspring from birth to adulthood spiral to $233,000."

The areas factored into this figure are "housing, food, transportation, health care, education, clothing and other miscellaneous expenses."

The article does admit it costs "a bit less" to raise children in rural areas (they said Idaho is one of the cheapest states) and "a bit more" in urban areas. Since "up to a third of the total cost is housing, accounting for 26 to 33 per cent of the total expense of raising a child," this figure essentially includes rent or mortgage: "USDA comes up with those numbers by calculating the average cost of an additional bedroom -- an approach the department says is probably conservative, because it doesn't account for those families who pay more to live in communities that have better schools or other amenities for children."

But for heaven's sake, they put the cost at $12,680 when the child is between 0 and 2...!!!!! I can tell you one thing for certain, Don and I spent nowhere near that amount when our kids were toddlers!! At the time our budget was so tight, spending that much would have sucked down a vast percentage of our income.

Articles like this are, I believe, unrealistic and misleading. They are also wildly discouraging to young couples or new parents.

So here's what I'd like to do: To all you dear readers with children in urban areas, what do you do to raise your children frugally? What are your fiscal tips for NOT spending exorbitant amounts of money while still raising your children to be decent, respectful, wonderful people? I'm not saying rural parents can't chime in either, but urban parents are the ones needing the most encouragement in the wake of these figures.


So, fire away. Give us your best -- and cheapest -- childraising advice.

36 comments:

  1. For us, the biggest expense has been childcare. We waited until some of our student loans were paid off before having kids so we could afford the cost of daycare.

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  2. Raising a child today in an urban area, sending him/her to child care, then government schools are, in most cases, 3 counts of child abuse to this Deplorable.
    Montana Guy

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  3. Until children go to school (and it really is best to homeschool them anyway) they won't know if they're "poor" so don't worry about it. Clothing and toys and books can be had for a fraction of retail by shopping at yard sales and thrift stores. If you start a child out that way they grow up thinking it is normal and get total sticker shock when introduced to regular shopping. Having a stay at home mom is a great way to save also. No expenses for work clothing and grooming, no child care costs, or transportation, time and energy to cook at home. And it is not a waste of any education for the mother to be home raising children as that is one of the most important and difficult jobs in the world. What better use of your education could there be? We found that by homeschooling our children they were much healthier not coming in contact with sick children whose working parents took them to school for babysitting. We saved on school clothes because we just wore what we had, nothing fancy or faddish. Another money saving strategy for us was not having television, no cost for cable or whatever the going thing is. Also no exposure to advertisements designed to tempt children into wanting things. At one time we lived in a college town close to campus and our children walked to the local attractions. It was a great experience. Earlier we had lived out in the country on five acres and they loved exploring the back woods. Each area has good and bad points to them. Ignore the reports that claim it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise a child. Hogwash! If you weren't raised frugally yourself read Amy Dacyzyn and learn how to do it. She's a good mentor.

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    1. I have chosen to use my education to serve on a small group of highly-specialized neonatal/pediatric transport nurses who go via helicopter or ambulance to bring babies and children needing life-saving care back to the University Medical Center. My Appalachian state has a very under-served population, and it is my privilege to offer them my expertise and care.
      My first husband left me, and child care was essential to me in order to work and continue to feed/house my then infant daughter.
      (Patrice, I definitely would echo those that have already commented that child care is the most expensive part of child-rearing in a family where one or both parents have to work. I, personally, paid about $1000 a month.) I fully support women who choose to stay home and rear their children, as I respect those who want to/financially need to work.

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    2. Carrie, you are one of my heroes! Thank you for the work that you do. Saving lives is valuable and certainly worthwhile. Thank you!

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  4. We started urban and are now rural. We avoided the largest expense by having a parent home to provide childcare. Now that the kid is school aged we home school with 1 day a week in a public school partnership program with other home-schooled kids. The public school even helps provide or purchase curriculum of our choice (within regulations - no religious curriculum will be reimbursed). Such programs are available in many school districts throughout the country (both urban and rural).

    We have always relied on public resources for entertainment and enrichment such as: libraries, pools, parks, and free kids concerts sponsored by the public radio station. These are much more readily available to urban families.

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  5. My sons were Cub Scouts...and then....older son wanted to go on to Boy Scouts, which required ALOT of camping equipment that I did not have, and couldn't imagine how I could afford it. It dawned on me how many boys might miss the opportunity to camp in the High Sierra's for lack of gear. So myself and 2 young sons, embarked on a mission. We hit yard sales and thrift stores looking for gear, not just for us but for an entire troop. Other parents, especially the men, got on board with the project. One guy built a large trailer on wheels to carry enough stuff for a troop of boys. In the end, my son camped almost every weekend of his teenaged life in the High Sierra's, with a troop that produced a record number of Eagle Scouts including my son! Moral of this story: It. Can. Be. Done. !

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  6. Let having children determine the economics; not the other way around. It can be done, and no, it doesn't mean going on food stamps! Kids want YOU; not STUFF!

    If you can home-school, please do. Public schools have become an American tragedy.

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  7. I stay at home with our 3 (soon to be 4!) kids. My husband and I share a car. Most of our meals are simple and homemade. The kids wear clothes that I buy from consignment sales, garage sales or the clearance rack. I homeschool and will often buy used books for them. I will buy new if I can't find what I'm looking for in good, used condition because I know I will eventually use it several times! I don't put my kids in every sport or activity. I guard our afternoons and evenings. If anything consistently makes getting a homemade meal on the table impossible, then we don't do it. I'll relax a bit on that when my children get older, but not until my kids show a sincere and lasting interest in a sport/activity. Hopefully, by then they should be able to find babysitting/lawn mowing/dog walking jobs to help pay for their hobbies. We don't have a TV or any kind of monthly movie subscription. As a result, my kids aren't bombarded with advertisements for more junk. I buy them quality toys for birthdays and Christmas that will last for years, but never a lot. Quantity wise, my kids definitely received far less than their friends this past Christmas, but I have never seen them more excited or thankful for what they did receive. We do spend money traveling. My kids have been on 3 continents and in many countries. But even that we do frugally because we tag along with my husband as his work allows. We are in Europe right now, in fact! I don't think it's at all necessary to spend lots of money to raise children. I'd much rather spend time with my kids than spend money on my kids. It's kind of funny, but the more time I spend with my kids, the less money I need to spend entertaining them or keeping them busy. We are able to come up with all sorts of free, or mostly free, activities.

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  8. I (mommy) stay at home. No day care costs. We receive abundant hand me downs (some for dd, all for ds). I shop the clearance section in stores for other clothes and shoes, and when they were little, bought up to 6 sizes ahead so when they needed the next size of clothes, I had nearly everything forthat size. My dd is now in women's sizes, so we shop the local rescue missions and thrift stores for her clothes. My kids ADORE thrift stores! It's a treasure hunt!

    For homeschooling....we knew we would homeschool prior to having our kids, so when the first was a wee babe, I hit book sales at the local libraries, and stocked up on books at the thrift stores. We have a LARGE homeschooling community (something about being 50th in the nation for schools...ahem), so finding HS curricula at the thrift stores is common. I bought different ones for different grades, then filled in with used books bought at curriculum sales on fb. I could get EXACTLY what I wanted thru those sales....saving $1000's! Over 2 summers I bought hs books and children's books used in the literature-based curricula from the thrift stores on their half priced book days and their .99/bag book sale days, and turned around and resold them on the hs curricula fb pages, then used the $ earned to finish buying the curricula I wanted through 12th grade for my kids. I don't mind that my apologia science is first edition and doesn't have the dvd to go along with it....I promise that the science is still the same....only I spent $3-5 per giant textbook, vs $68+ for brand new. (I did splurge and pay $15-20 on a few of the textbooks I bought....not all were $3-5!)

    Food....I learned to pinch pennies. For awhile I couponed. Now I buy spices, breakfast cereals, and beans in bulk. Kids love to eat beans and bean based meals. Shoot, they love to eat most anything, and eat they do!! Whew! But I do best on the food budget when I write down the cost of everything when it is put into the cart (rounded to the half dollar), so I am very aware of where our $ is being spent. I try to shop sales, stock up on loss leaders, and plan our menu on what is in season and on sale.

    We don't liWe don't live in the best school district, so our housing is $20k+ less. For the first several yrs, we lived in a nice sized townhouse with a very small mortgage, and while dh's coworkers spent $2000-$3000/ month mortgages, ours was under $700/month. For years we didn't have a car payment. When we bought a more rural home, we searched below our approved rating, and got a beautiful home for less....though we DID end up living in a 2 bedroom/1 bath house (4 of us) for 4 yrs. We recently built on an addition, so 4 bed/2 bath. (And a pantry. A real-deal pantry! 7'x10'!)

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  9. (Continued)
    My kids don't have the latest and greatest electronics. (NO PHONES!) They don't have computers. They don't have tv.s. WE don't have a tv/cable/dvr, ie $$ every month. (We watch netflix on a laptop.) The kids don't play 40 different sports. (We believe the family together at dinnertime is a must.) We DO pay for some extracurriculars, but they've been daytime ones...currently an art class which includes painting, drawing, sewing, and cooking. In the past, piano lessons, horseback riding lessons, dance, swimming....we tend to spend 2 yrs on something, then move on. My ds is dying to take martial arts lessons! Since now their school is mainly free, cause I sold books to buy their school curricula, money is freed up for special classes.

    I buy school supplies AFTER school begins, once it is clearanced. Then I have them for the next yr. We don't need brand new anything each yr, except for spiral notebooks for each subject....which I buy by the boxfull when they are .07-.09/each, on clearance. We always have scissors and glue and markers and crayons around, somewhere!

    Dh and I don't need the latest and greatest of anything. We buy cheap phones, and are on a month to month payment, which has been the cheapest way for us. Last yr we replaced our 7yr old laptops. Until I JUST got a new car in sept, our cars all had over 100,000 miles, except the 1996 saturn that we tow behind our 1992 rv. Lol, it has like 80,000 miles of driving (alot more of towing!). We bought it and the rv w cash.

    We love to travel, and we try to take an rv trip every 4-6 weeks during the fall, winter, and spring. Because the kids homeschool, we can travel whenever...w bring school along! And we don't have to pay motel prices, nor do we need to eat out on our trips, as we pack food for all our meals. So a weekend away will cost $55 (2 nights) at the rv park, and we would already have to pay for gas, and that's it. A weekend away at a hotel would be $240+ for the hotel room, plus 2 dinners + 2 lunches for 4 people....around $200-300+. Plus activities.....when one is traveling, staying in a hotel is NOT a fun time!! But when one travels in an rv, the park can have many free things to see and do! There's usually hiking, the kids play at the playground or they ride bikes or they wander or find a great dirt patch to play in, we sit outside and read and talk, we visit w others, we sometimes wander outside the park....but not normally. So we don't have to spend a ton of $ to do fun things. Vs when we travel and stay in a hotel....

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  10. we will have our 6 the in the spring. i kinda feel like with tax refunds we are getting paid to have kids lol. we homeschool- lots of free library books, use hand- me downs ( only 1 girl and she gets them from her cousins), cook mostly from scratch, and say no alot- to them, ourselves, and others. no one has perished yet!

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  11. We already had our land and house and vehicles, we just made sure we were using MY income to purchase those things and only living off of my husbands income, so that when we had kids I could stay home,,,I had read all that scary financial info 20 years ago and was AFRAID , but really once the shock of no longer receiving a paycheck wore off , I was amazed at how little babies and kids cost . 1 New purchase car seat...we received useful clothing and things at baby shower , I nursed for a year so very little formula , no daycare , no stroller ( worthless on a dirt road anyway) we did buy a new mattress for our hand me down baby crib. Grandmas did keep on buying little outfits and toys at first ,because who can stop the Grandma.s! We were in our 30's. I just told my daughter I was glad they remember the down turn in the economy 08-09 , they got told they could buy Goodwill clothes for school or choose to wear short and tight clothing because there was NO $ for new school clothes..one choose Goodwill and spent maybe $20 and the other went on with her too small clothes , when Christmas came my 10 year old daughter took a saw and went out back and cut down a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree for us , only a very few gifts , we lived right next door to a wealthy family but my kids never noticed any difference , but they weren't raised in the first place to keep track of things like that .I see some young families struggling , but..they seem to have bought into the idea they need new brand name everything , and no hand me downs for kids ! Just saying kids don't need a lot .

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  12. We have 4 children and live in a suburb of Houston. Thankfully we live in a great housing market. We bought a house that we could pay off in a reasonable time. Our 3 boys share a room...ghast! :) I stay at home and homeschool the children. 5 of the 6 of us are involved in martial arts. We found a wonderful Christian martial arts school where we pay for two people and everyone else is free!! We are all comfortable shopping at thrift stores and wearing hand-me downs. We buy our vehicles with cash and they are atleast 10 years old when we buy them. We belong to several food co-ops to help keep the cost of quality food down. Thankfully our health insurance rates don't get any higher when having more than 1 child on the policy. Our vacations consist of going to my parents' land a few hours away where we get to stay for free. Our free time consists of riding bikes, playing outdoor games with the neighborhood kids on the greenway that cuts through our neighborhood, having park dates with our homeschoool co-op, and being at church for AWANA, youth group and other activities. Our homeschool co-op allows us to go in with other families and get group rates for field trips to museums and theatrical performances.
    I LOVE our "large" family and would not trade it for any amount of stuff!

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  13. We lived urban until 4 years ago and our littles were 1,2 and 4 when we moved. We did it on a very tiny income and with no issues :) My husband travels 3 months of the year so (since we were a one car family) I was home with just my little ones and a stroller and baby carrier for transportation. We'd walk to the library 2-3 times a week, we walked to the school playground, we walked around the neighborhood and I invited people to come to dinner for some adult company once in a while. Bonus is they'd sometimes bring us some fresh fruit which was a treat since grocery stores weren't walkable and I'd often go a month between grocery trips. I used my freezers and canning to stock lots of foods when they were cheap or free (people in the city seem to be bothered by the fruit trees they have and would love it when I'd come and pick and clean up for them!) Living in the city meant there was an active freecycle and craigslist that we could use for free or really cheap clothes and all baby needs, other than car seats. Rummage sales are close together and easy to get to when you live in an urban area. I could easily hit 10-20 in an 1-3 hours on a Saturday morning We had access to lots of free events in the city as well. It is like anything, when you look for ways to do it, you'll find them!

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  14. Our middle child's bedroom was our closet for the first three years of his life. After we remodeled, our little three-year-old son excitedly went to church one Sunday and shouted to the preacher, "I've come out of the closet!" We still remind him of that to this day.

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  15. I had my 3rd in January 2014. We started educating her right away, like we did with our other kids. The nice thing about not sending our kids to government indoctrination "schools" is that we can start education whenever we want. We start with thrift-store-bought books that teach the simplest lessons - names of numbers, letters, and, of course, Bible stories. We graduate to more complex stuff when the kids are ready. I've found they're all ready at different times.

    We do live in a suburban neighborhood, but before we had our first child, my husband and I carefully chose where we would live based on activities in the area and the great homeschooling community that was there. We knew beforehand that we'd want to have good neighbors with the same general values as us. If not our next-door neighbors, then at least we wanted to have people in the general area who believed in homeschooling, traditional values and sharing resources. We knew we'd save a lot of money, and that our kids would do much better, if we considered those things before we bought our house.

    We are greatly involved with our homeschooling neighbors. We share our clothes, textbooks, and everything else that we need. All is handed down through our generous system of neighbors, or else bought on thrift shops or Amazon.

    I buy food in bulk when I can. All my food is wholesome, organic and natural. I make homemade meals from scratch - no Hamburger Helper for us. Even our pasta is from scratch, when we even have such a delicacy.

    We don't waste money on expensive modern phones or subscriptions. We don't have a TV and our internet and phone service is basic. I and my husband have phones as we need them for our work. My kids don't and won't until they can afford them with their own money. My kids can also do without TV, or, as I call it, the Indoctrination Box. They play and entertain themselves without the need for a box to stare at. They read books from thrift shops or play card games from the dollar store.

    Our three kids have shared the same stroller, and if we have a fourth, we'll break out the same soldier again for his or her use. We have the same principle for everything - use it until it breaks, in which case, repair it and use it again. My kids have handed down the stroller, clothes, games, bikes and almost everything else. Why buy new? They can share.

    When our first was very young and we were newly moved into our house (less than a year), we'd had her sleeping in a crib in our room (built from wood that my husband chopped - we're resourceful and very DIY when we can be). We soon graduated her at the age of six months to a room of her own. When our next two came along, many parents would've "upsized" because they might believe they didn't have enough room. Well, we didn't want to waste money. Our three kids - yes, the youngest is a toddler - share one room. It doesn't hurt them. Maybe it isn't as fantastic a life as a coddled child might experience, but they're fine. They're close to each other and to us.

    We don't believe in spending hundreds on things or experiences we don't need. We don't buy the newest gadgets or fads. No Hatchimals in our house!! Christmases are pretty Spartan around here, but our kids know to be grateful for what they have - food, a roof over their head, and debt-free, frugal parents who would be able to afford expensive sports gear or sudden healthcare needs if the need came up, because we've penny-pinched and saved.

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  16. Child care is the biggest expense if both parents have to work. It is a sacrifice, but it can be done. I worked swings and graves. My wife worked days. On my work days, I got the kids up, fed, dressed, and when old enough to school. I cleaned the house in the mornings. We shared cooking. When she came home for lunch, we ate together. She took care of the kids when I went to work. No one said it was going to be easy, but we raised our kids ourselves. Babysitters were our friends' daughters who earned some money on the nights we were able to have a rare date. You sacrifice for the kids as a matter of course. Sometime the sacrifice is time together. But I am happy at the way my kids turned out. One daughter owns her own business. The next daughter earned two degrees in 5 years. The next daughter got her degree and ran an arts association in a major metro area. My son followed what was a family calling [My dad and my wife's dad were both chefs and restaurant owners, I have been a chef till I figured out that wearing a badge paid better and fighting Darwin on the streets was actually easier with shorter hours.] and became a chef until he heard the call of brewing and is now the Master Brewer at one of the better artisan breweries in the West. All have their heads on straight and can cope with life. You don't have to give kids things bought with money. You give them yourselves.

    Subotai Bahadur

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  17. I made all my girls clothes. They were close in age and wore the same size so I bought one pattern and made multiple dresses, pants, shorts, etc from one pattern It didn't take much fabric when they were small. When they got older they didn't do every activity available. They could do one sport and one music activity per yer. They went to public school (a choice I regret to this day) but when they needed tutoring, I was the tutor. They never ate a lot :D
    Brenda

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  18. These crazy dollar amounts caused my husband and I to wait longer than we needed to start our family. They certainly scared us! We finally made the plunge and it was comical how much less than those scary dollar amounts we'd read about we really ended up spending.

    1) We skipped a lot of the unneeded baby equipment
    2) I nursed for the first year and made homemade baby food
    3) I hit the garage sales and thrift stores for clothing
    4) We look for free community activities to take advantage of - concerts in the park, art shows, free day at the zoo, etc.

    We must have managed ok since we now have seven well dressed, well fed, well socialized, well educated kids, all on a one income salary.

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    1. I like your comment about unneeded baby equipment. Although it's more clothing than equipment, we used old fashioned cloth diapers instead of disposables. That saves tons of money. Since my wife quit work to stay home with the baby she had time to learn how to sew. We would go to wherever fabric was on sale and buy a bunch of different designs and colors for her to make baby clothes.

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  19. I think the biggest expense from age 0-2 is the actual birth itself. Where I used to live in Florida, 'no emergency issues' cost of a hospital birth was around 12,000.00. If there were ANY need for extra 'management' price shot up exponentially. In Fl there was close to a 30% c-secion rate and getting higher all the time.
    As opposed to some of the local midwives that performed homebirth services, range was 1,800 (Medicare reimbursement) to 3,500 (normal rates as of a few years ago). Midwives had to exclude those pregnancies that were higher risk, so it may be stacked a little against the hospitals stats? But wow, big price difference.

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  20. My husband and I for many years grew a garden and when our children became school age my husband put additional potatoes in the garden so when they were harvested he sold many bushels to his coworkers at the factory he worked at. That "tater money" funded school shoes books, clothing and any fees that the beginning of school cost us. This went on for many years. Our grown daughters still talk about how their daddy spent his tater money on them so they could have what was needed. Not things for himself.
    Kids do pay attention.

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  21. Gosh , reading thru these , I wonder how great it would be to see THESE responses to reports on how much it costs to raise kids! Headlines " Half of Americans raise kids on $200,000 a year and Half raise them on $2.00 " ha ha ha ha !Karen

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  22. I had my oldest at 19. My husband and I got married 3 months before she was born. He quit school to get a second job. At one point he was working 3 jobs. I went back to my high school job(the owner was great) and he let me make my own schedule. I worked part time when my Mom could watch my daughter. We had a tiny 2 bedroom apartment. The only time we ate out was when we went to someone else's house. I would pack a cooler everyday for my husband because he usually went from one job to the next. We had one car. We lived in a nice suburb. I lived a mile from my parents and a half mile from my job. We either walked or I rode a bike with her when she was old enough to sit on her own. I have a big family so we got tons of gifts when she was born. Took anything anyone offered used, crib, bassinet, stroller. The only new things I remember were my parents gave us a car seat and my aunts bought a high chair.
    When she was 2 my husband's VP approached me and told me she was pregnant. She didn't want to put the baby in day care. Would I be interested in watching him at her house with my daughter. I watched him from 2 weeks until he started kindergarten. I then had my son and a friend was pregnant and asked would I watch her baby at my house. Watched her until she started kindergarten. Had my youngest during that time. When she went to kindergarten I went and got a part time job. I work 11-16 hours while they are at school. I have never paid a penny on day care.
    My sister on the other hand lives out of state and is a single mom. She used to pay a fortune for daycare but she had no other choice.
    My library has saved me a fortune. Free classes for the kids, movies, books, games. We didn't have cable until we got our house. We lived 2 blocks from a park at our apartment. A mile from a state park. We were always outside doing things(remember tiny apartment). When I started watching the little boy they had a nice park near the house. I did get a used car then because they lived about 15 minutes by car so I needed it.
    the most expensive thing so far is collage. my son was just accepted to a near by state school and he will be living at home.
    Family and friends would ask about gifts(still do). My one sister likes to do experiences over stuff. She had taken them to plays, water parks, museums, and gotten them passes to an aquarium and amusement park. My parents gave gymnastic lessons too both of my daughters and karate to my son(kids choices). It would be their birthday and Christmas gift. Much better then a ton of toys they didn't need.
    Where we live there are so many free things around that if you want to find something you can.

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  23. I forgot to say I nursed all 3 of my kids too. Formula is a fortune!

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  24. Rather than repeat what everyone else has commented on Which we also did. The benefits include that our family all sat down to an evening meal prepared from scratch and discussed out day. Also Our daughter learned our thrifty ways. She wanted to go to college and we were broke. Rather than go with college loans, She made it a full time job to find scholarships and worked jobs to get thru college loan free and had money in the bank when she graduated.

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  25. Cloth diapers! Saved us a ton of money, even living in an apartment we had a portable washer that hooked up to the sink. I line dryer on racks. Libraries and parks.

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  26. Speaking of college....my older son grew up frugal and then was eager to go to college. HE arranged for the ARMY to pay for his degree. I had no idea that was possible, and couldn't tell you today how to do it! A case of the student surpassing the master! Didn't cost me a dime, and he had no need for loans.

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  27. I have 4 kids ranging in age from 7-13. They were born in an urban area but we got them out of there as fast as we could! I certainly notice ways that I see other families spending money that we don't: skip the snack/soda aisle, including buying all those gimmicky "first foods" and "squeezable applesauce" when your baby is getting teeth. (Aside from the expense -- all that packaging! What a waste.) Thrift store clothes and hand-me-downs. The poster above that mentioned school supplies - we NEVER buy school supplies except at back-to-school time! Wait until "off season" to shop for any "new" items. (My oldest was on year #6 with her backpack and had physically outgrown it. She got a brand-new, $60 Lands End model for $15 in November. I suspect it will last her all 4 years of high school!). Same thing with winter coats - often this year's model will be on clearance in March or April. Use the library for books - my kids are avid readers and while we own many classics, we only own a fraction of what they read. We also buy used books either on Ebay or thrift stores/used book stores. Have fun at parks. Research free days at museums. If there's something like a zoo or science center that you can visit often, a membership might make a lot of sense. Homeschool. Breastfeed. Learn to cut your kids' hair. Pack lunches. We also trade board games with other families periodically so we can try new ones for a while but not have to own them!

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  28. We were only truly "urban" when the kids were under 2. There were many challenges in that situation, but I'd say there were 3 big helps toward a balanced, frugal life with little ones: 1) A strong public library system with many free "Mommy & Me" type activities; 2) Well-used and well-maintained public parks and playgrounds; 3) Walkable neighborhoods, where most needs and excursions could be done on foot or with a short ride on the train or bus. I was a bit horrified when we moved "home" at how many hours a week most kids spend strapped into carseats.
    All in all, though, I'd never want to go back for more than a visit. I love finally having my own garden!

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  29. I am a city mom. My family has a rural home. We are sandwiched between aging parents with significant health needs and our children. For now we have chosen to raise our children in an urban environment. We are well aware of the costs of raising children. My husband and I talk a lot about everything. We establish needs from wants and we prioritize where our money goes on a continuous basis. We live by a budget which is also under regular review and discussion. We opted to buy a good enough house in a good enough neighborhood which has access to tons of green space, nature trails, lakes, pools, parks, etc. When we can’t get out to our rural place, it is a good alternative for our family. Beyond our home we use the usual suspects to save money – cook at home, take our lunch to school/work, buy clothes on sale or at outlet stores, hand clothes from one child to the next, limit outings to low cost or no cost, buy used where possible (books, baby gear, kid toys, furniture, etc.). When we make “big” purchases, we enact a seven day waiting period. During that time we discuss why we want or need to make the purchase. Typically gifts for our children are limited to birthdays and Christmas. We also fiercely guard our family time. We do not engage in sports or extras. It is one part cost and two parts refusing to give away more time with our children. We put our children in daycare and thus our time off/family time is precious. We remind ourselves regularly we only get our children full time for a short period of time. We want to be a driving influence in their formative years and quite honestly we enjoy our children. We also use our family time to spend lots of time outdoors either at home or on the rural property. We demonstrate hard work, a love of learning and a passion for nature. We have one dino nut and one animal nut so we have a natural science museum membership and a zoo membership. We believe it fosters the interests of our children and also sends our money to institutions we support. In short my husband and I are in constant discussion about everything and try to spend our money wisely and where we believe it needs to go.

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  30. I am a city mom. My family has a rural home. We are sandwiched between aging parents with significant health needs and our children. For now we have chosen to raise our children in an urban environment. We are well aware of the costs of raising children. My husband and I talk a lot about everything. We establish needs from wants and we prioritize where our money goes on a continuous basis. We live by a budget which is also under regular review and discussion. We opted to buy a good enough house in a good enough neighborhood which has access to tons of green space, nature trails, lakes, pools, parks, etc. When we can’t get out to our rural place, it is a good alternative for our family. Beyond our home we use the usual suspects to save money – cook at home, take our lunch to school/work, buy clothes on sale or at outlet stores, hand clothes from one child to the next, limit outings to low cost or no cost, buy used where possible (books, baby gear, kid toys, furniture, etc.). When we make “big” purchases, we enact a seven day waiting period. During that time we discuss why we want or need to make the purchase. Typically gifts for our children are limited to birthdays and Christmas. We also fiercely guard our family time. We do not engage in sports or extras. It is one part cost and two parts refusing to give away more time with our children. We put our children in daycare and thus our time off/family time is precious. We remind ourselves regularly we only get our children full time for a short period of time. We want to be a driving influence in their formative years and quite honestly we enjoy our children. We also use our family time to spend lots of time outdoors either at home or on the rural property. We demonstrate hard work, a love of learning and a passion for nature. We have one dino nut and one animal nut so we have a natural science museum membership and a zoo membership. We believe it fosters the interests of our children and also sends our money to institutions we support. In short my husband and I are in constant discussion about everything and try to spend our money wisely and where we believe it needs to go.

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  31. We live in ny. State not city. North of Albany. It is expensive to raise children. We have 5. I can tell you hands down our biggest expense is food for our kids. The newest being on formula because no matter what we did (surgery included) we couldn't get a proper latch and she kept loosing weight. Since we cannot grow our own food ourselves we must buy it. That here is expensive. We do raise pigs at our in-laws. But overall we must purchase the majority. We purchase organic because of pesticides and non gmo because we firmly believe that putting that into our kids is irresponsible. Mind you when money got tight we bought what we could afford but regularly we try to buy with our conscious. Meat local and veggies also when in season. It's hard. We spend $600-$900/month on groceries. I hate it. But currently we have no choice. We educate at home. Though I don't see it as saving us much money. We are looking into moving into a town to save money on fuel and vehicles. Small town mind you but we could walk to every amenity we regular. Even get a couple acres in Totten and still have chickens and raised beds. We buy second hand clothing or receive hand me downs. Cars are used. Our kids don't "do much" like many other families we know. Examples are dance gymnastics music lessons etc. Currently one daughter participates in a Christian scouting program. We are slightly active in our local homeschool group. We have cloth diapers but currently not in a place mentally to add another obligation. We save a lot by no electronic devices. No tv. No internet except via cell phone for us adults. We try to keep it simple really.

    Learning in N.Y.

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  32. Also of course stay at home mom here. Dad works full time. We save money by bartering birth with our home birth midwife. Fresh pork anyone? Babysitting is by family only. Either a parent grandparent or aunt uncle. It's infrequent but saves us a lot. We live poor by most standards. Cheap housing. Trailer park currently. But home is paid for. We buy bulk if possible. Hard when 7 people live in 1000sqft to store stuff. Craigslist saves us a lot. Our dog even came from there. Haha. But really feeding them good quality food is the most expensive part I believe for us.

    Learning in N.Y.

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  33. I love these articles about how much kids cost. As a home schooling mother, who just had her third baby, i laugh at the figures quoted.

    My husband and i live in a 1000 sq ft farm house with one bathroom and people are shocked when i say i want a 4th child. Then i mention i dont have a dishwasher, computer or cable tv and you would think i said i lived on the moon. Ha!

    No it doesnt cost over $200k but it does cost blood, sweat and tears. I see these times as the best years of my life!

    Life in rural TX

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