Balancing Babies and Budgets

It’s time to face the financial facts. Stop avoiding and start planning. PSP moms and dads share the realities of figuring out finances.

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From cutting costs, balancing the books to even planning estates and wills – PSP talks you through all the considerations for making sure your family has a healthy financial budget and portfolio. The sooner you are on top and in control, the more secure you and your family will feel.

As one parent advises, “the more attention you give to your problem the more you will find ways to help everyday as long as you're willing to try it differently.”

Useful Websites:

Get Your Shit Together is a website that makes life and death planning simple. It’s crucial you have a living will, insurance, power of attorney and details all organized. This site talks you through how to get these crucial essentials under control.

Useful Reading:

From the New York Times: For Parents-to-Be, a Few Financial and Legal Tips

PSP Recommendations:

Life Insurance Brokers

Financial Advisers/Planners

Wills/Estates

More Reading on PSP:

Setting Up a Savings Account For Your Child

Getting a Will For Your Baby

Helpful Tools:

Downloadable Family Monthly Budget Planner

 

Money Saving Tips from PSP Members:

Are you looking to cut a few financial corners? Here are some tips, advice and words of wisdom from PSP members…

Use Budget Management Tools, like Quicken

Reconsider Childcare:

“We were wait-listed for public pre-K, but I made a nuisance of myself and badgered the parent coordinator until we got a spot. I don't know if that actually made the difference, but my point is that public pre-K is free (and usually awesome), and I would do everything in your power to get in."

Opt for Daycare over a Nanny:

“We love our nanny and I know that it is convenient to have a nanny but I think that it is a huge expense compared to have both kids in daycare/preschool and just have someone to help a bit few hours at night if necessary. My nanny expense alone is around $3,000/month. Daycares are on average $1,500 a month. I would also try the free pre-K option for an older child.”

"It's incredible how much a nanny affects the family budget!"

Would being a Stay At Home Parent for a few years make financial sense?

“If one of you makes a lot more than the other does it make sense for one of you to stay home with the kids for a couple of years? Consider net not gross income and consider the extras you pay a nanny/sitter, etc.”

Public Schools:

“Once your older child is in public school, you can put the younger one in day care to cut down on childcare costs.”

Modify your retirement contributions for a few years:

“Perhaps reduce retirement savings for a couple of years.”

Scrap the car:

“How much is that payment and insurance? Consider a zip car or getting creative with transportation. It may be the easy solution to have a car but cars are often pricey.”
Read more about how PSP moms and dads weigh up owning – and not owning- a car in Brooklyn HERE.

Skip the big family vacations:

“What about vacations? Consider camping vacations or other bargains for a couple of years.”

Find free and fun activities:

“We can't afford this camp or that class, so we have as much fun with our daughter as possible, AND take part in a lot of free/low cost fun (play dates, city parks, zoos, etc.).”

“Going out becomes exploring - the park, a grocery store, a library, and get a list of all the free stuff to do. No more pay to play. Use the freetransferbetween the bus and the subway.”

Think about moving a cheaper area:

“Re-evaluate if your quality of life might be better outside of Park Slope. We had to leave Park Slope for neighboring Sunset Park - couldn't afford it without our sweet rent stabilized apartment. For what you'd save on rent you could use for more frills for your family. I've known friends who literally saved thousands (between childcare costs and rent) by leaving the Slope, and were able to have a quality of life more in tune with what they wanted for their family - and a bigger place! Just food for thought.”

Read more what PSP members have said about moving beyond Park Slope HERE.

Cut the credit cards:

“Do not use a credit card. Ever. Unless you are charging for anemergencyroom visit, the card has to be buried. Stick it in your freezer if you have to in order to get it out of your purse/wallet

Save medical costs and think about an Health Savings Accounts (HSA):

“Do you have an HSA in place? Is your health plan connected to it? If so, load it up and use it. It's pre-tax money and should be the only way you pay for medical bills.”

Cut out non-essentials:

“I was once told that if you can't increase your income decrease your expenses, and if you can't or are not willing to cut anymore corners, you just have to be happy with less.”

“Think of everything and anything you can cut. No more eating out or ordering in. I canceled our NY Times subscription. We don't have cable TV. I placed a moratorium on buying new clothing -- wear what you have. Take books out of the library instead of buying them. Make coffee instead of spending $2 a day (or more) on it.”

“Do you have cable? If so you definitely don’t need it.”

“Do you have rules like being your lunch to work and only eat out once a week?”

“People would not believe how little we make because we make it work.We eat out about once per week in a restaurant and order in "cheap" one other day (chinese food, italian, pizza, etc). We do not go on vacations (we will take long weekends away), we go to local theaters to see plays and we buy package cards to movie theaters to see movies. We try not to deny our children anything. We shop at discount clothing stores and buy things on sale (we do not shop in this neighborhood, stores are too pricey for us). My husband even goes skiing once a year with our kids. Our kids have almost everything (within reason), that other kids around here do but, not all.”

“We do not have a budget for clothes every month, we buy clothes when we need them, but not every month (that seems extreme to me). If I feel I need a "treat", I will buy myself something inexpensive (a lipstick, nail polish, etc).”

Quit Eating Out

“You're spending way more than you think on eating out. Start cooking at home way more often. Stop going out to eat and invite friends over instead.”

“Stop buying beverages and snacks out. Pack a water bottle for everyone, pack snacks for everyone every time. The more you do that, the easier it becomes.”

Aspire to be a cooking extraordinaire:

“Cook huge meals on Sundays and eat the left overs. Shop locally and don't pay for deliveries. Stop giving gifts out.”

Find out food waste:

“Consider how much food waste you have going on. What helps cut down on wasted food is simply shopping more times during the week. So you are only buying what you are cooking for dinner and making for lunch for the next several days.”

Grocery Shop Smartly:

- Consider a Costco membership.

- Shop with a list and not impulse buy things not on the list

- Think about couponing: “know it's a pain cutting out all those coupons but the savings are worth it.”

- Try shopping exclusively at the Park Slope Food Coop

- Figure out which supermarkets have the best deals for different products and visit them all

- Menu plan:“Bean soup Mondays, Mexican something Tuesdays, chicken Wednesdays, pasta Thursdays, Leftover Fridays, and random weekend meals. It's a start.”

- Cook simply: “Cooking simple meals (especially for the kids) that is well-balanced but not fancy keeps costs down, as well as focusing on stuff that is in-season and on sale.”

Become a bargain hunter:

“You can bargain hunt at book stores and books are great, valuable gifts for anyone at any age. No more gifts other than books is actually very easy. Stop shopping for clothes. You'd be surprised at what you can get via theclassifiedslist on PSP in terms of great kid clothes. Then just deal with what you-- the parents, who are not growing -- already have in your actual closet as of right now. Parents shouldn't buy a single new thing for a least a yearbecausethere is a s**tload of clothes in your closet.”

“Buy the cereals on the bottom shelf of the grocery store. Join the Food Coop, which has way morereasonableprices. Also try Trader Joes and use Target's website to see what is on sale that week.”

Try a different way of thinking:

“My husband and I have this conversation often that if we left the area, our salaries would allow us a very different life. But we know that our income wouldn't be the same as it is in NYC. Plus as a native, my therapy bills would be huge if I had to leave the city! So staying makes sense for us.

We have two kids in daycare/preschool and I can't wait for the day when our older starts public school. There will still be costs but nothing like what we spend now. And while my salary barely covers all the tuition, I love my job and if I took off 5 years I wouldn't likely start again at the kind of position I have now. So while I hate paying it, I see our daycare costs as a short term investment in our children, who love and have thrived in school, and in my career, which has personal and long term financial value to our family.”

Be happy with less:

“It is not in my family's financial cards at the moment to take a trip to Disney World, or for our daughter to take a tumbling class. But we're doing alright and we're happy with what we've got, because we know where we were and how much worse it could be. We have just learned to be happy with less.”