Sticking to a Budget with Kids
Children are one of life’s greatest gifts, but all great things come at a cost. The price of raising a child now is astronomical. For most of us, sticking to a budget is important, but when kids come into the picture, sticking to a budget is crucial. The problem is, it’s easier creating a budget than sticking to it, especially when kids are involved. Kids… kids have a way of tugging at your heartstrings, especially when their little faces crumple up as you say that less-than-magical word, “No.” It’s the first instance of the quivering lower lip that always gets me. It makes me feel so helpless and guilty.
I remember Sunday mornings deciding between the newspaper and a couple of gingerbread man cookies from the bakery for my two-year old daughter. I wanted the coupons so I could save money at the supermarket, and of course, she wanted the treats. Money was so tight that it really made a difference, but we compromised, and every other week my daughter got her treats. She began to learn what compromising is all about, perhaps a bit too soon in life, but perhaps just at the right time to teach her how valuable the art of compromising can be.
This is what budgeting is all about – compromising and deciding what you can live with and what you cannot. If you take away all of the pleasures in life, your budget is going to begin to feel like a noose around your neck, slowing choking the fun out of living. So, you should start by making a list that you are probably going to check more than twice. Sit down with your significant other and compile a list. Make three columns – and label them needs, wants, and do without. Why not just use two columns? Go through the list and truly be honest with yourself. Can you afford it? Is there enough money in the bank for emergencies? If you set honest limitations on your budget, you will be more likely to stick to it.
If your kids are old enough to understand, get them involved too. Kids are often wiser than we give them credit for. If they feel invested in the budgetary process from the beginning, they will be more likely to accept the compromising that follows. Make sure that at least one of the “wants” makes it into the final budget for everyone in the family. Put a monetary limit on each item of the budget, and when you are shopping, you need to make sure that you don’t go over the limit.
Another option is to give each child an allowance to spend as they want on their own purchases. Teach your children to save up for what they want. They’ll get a math lesson, and you’ll find it easier to stay on a budget with the kids!
If you’re shopping for baby products on a budget, be sure to read about our GaGa Deals offered every weekday. What other helpful tips do you have for staying on budget?