Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Statistics show that the cost of raising a child through the age of 17 is $233,610, and that doesn’t include college education. Of course the gift of having a child and starting a family outweighs these costs, but it’s always nice to be as financially prepared as possible. Creating a solid financial foundation before this next phase of life is imperative. 

Take a look at the tips below for ideas on how to lower your monthly expenses before starting a family!

Rearrange your monthly spending habits

The first step in attempting to lower your monthly expenses before starting a family is to look at your current spending habits. Pull out your credit card statements, bank statements, receipts—anything that helps you grasp how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. From there, identify areas where you can cut back. Are all of those coffee runs adding up? Are you paying for subscriptions that you’re not using? They might seem like insignificant spendings, but take note of how much money you save after you take fewer coffee trips and cancel forgotten subscriptions.

Pay off credit cards

The average household credit card debt is over $5,000. Being stuck in the never-ending cycle of paying the minimum balance due is stressful. The upfront cost of paying off a credit card can feel very overwhelming and potentially not feasible. You don’t have to pay it off all at once, but making it a priority to pay off your credit card debt will bring huge savings down the road. Debt tends to have a ripple effect throughout your entire financial life, so it’s best to take care of it sooner rather than later, especially before starting a family and adding those new expenses. 

Refinance your mortgage

Many people are hesitant to refinance their mortgage because doing so means paying for closing costs, which seems counterintuitive when the intent of refinancing is to ultimately save money. However, interest rates in 2021 are near historic lows, so a mortgage refinance could be a good option to consider when trying to lower your monthly expenses. Taking advantage of low interest rates can help lower your monthly payment, which will also benefit you in the long run. Don’t be afraid to use refinancing your home as a financial tool!

Utilize free entertainment

It’s tempting to meet your friends out for fun. Dinner and drinks, or a trip to the movies on the weekend can add up fast. That’s not to say you can’t be social if you’re trying to lower your monthly expenses. It just means you have to find new ways of entertainment! August is Family Fun Month—a month that encourages families to spend time together through a variety of activities, most of which are free! Instead of meeting with friends or family for dinner, consider going for a hike together. Invite them over to watch a movie at your place instead of a theater. 

Look for coupons

This might seem like an obvious approach to cutting back on monthly costs, but it’s often put on the back burner and forgotten about especially when a majority of shopping nowadays is done online. Fortunately, you can download a coupon extension that will live in your browser and automatically apply coupons to your shopping cart. Next time you’re ordering essentials online, make sure to apply those coupons! Take the extra time to look for coupons and discount codes when you’re shopping. Over time you’ll start to see how beneficial it is. 

Plan your meals

Grocery shopping costs can get out of control quickly. Just walk into the store while you’re hungry and you’ll find this to be true. Better yet, have you ever gone shopping for groceries without a list and only realized it got out of hand when the cashier tells you the total? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. All that to say, becoming more conscious about grocery costs is a great way to cut down on monthly expenses. Some tips for combatting a high grocery bill:

  • Never go shopping hungry
  • Check your pantry and refrigerator before you go
  • Make a list of meals for the week
  • Take advantage of a meal delivery service
  • Give yourself a weekly grocery budget and try to stick to it

It might feel like you have to make a lot of lifestyle changes to lower your monthly expenses. However, it all boils down to your mindset and perspective. With a positive attitude and some simple adjustments, you can feel confident in your financial habits and in your future. Let’s be honest. There is no better feeling than saving money, especially when it comes to preparing to start a family!