7 ways my kids actually SAVE me money

by J. Money - Published May 2, 2019

family portrait

There’s a lot of talk on how much kids COST you over the years (with some bloggers even going as far as tracking it every month before burning out!), but it’s a little known fact that while they do pull from the wallet, they can also *add* to it too.

Or at least, *prevent* you from pulling from it because AIN’T NOBODY’S GOT TIME TO SPEND THAT MONEY ANYMORE! Haha…

Which is basically the TL;DR of this post, but I’ll continue on just for fun ;)

Here are a bunch of ways my kids actually help me save money every day:

#1. I rarely eat out anymore. I used to grab lunch or dinner out at least 2-3x a week pre-kids. Now I don’t ever eat out because it’s such a hassle AND costs 3x what it used to! Not to mention being the opposite of relaxing ;)

#2. I rarely go out partying anymore! A savings of at least $1,000 a month from alcohol right there, haha… But while this is partially due to me just getting old(er) and not having the time, it’s also to make sure I’m always *available* for my kids at any point day or night too in case of an emergency… Things you don’t ever think about when you’re solo, but once you’re responsible for another human being it sure can get real, fast! And I wouldn’t ever forgive myself if God forbid something happened while I was incapacitated :(

#3. I hardly go shopping anymore. Or I should say, I rarely go out shopping *for myself* anymore, haha… We’re always picking up kids stuff, but no more casually browsing around or finding a new fun outfit to wear or anything… I make my two bi-yearly trips to TJ Maxx just to remember what it’s like to treat myself again, but outside of that the days of window shopping are over…

#4. I don’t travel that much anymore. I’m probably sounding SUPER BORING right now, haha, but I just can’t pry myself away from my family for any extended periods of time and/or put the burden of watching them all on my wife while I skip town ;) I do my once-a-year trip to our blogging conference each year (FinCon) which doubles as my vacation, but outside of that I’m home every night tucking my boys into bed until that fateful day where they no longer want me to and tell me to bugger off, haha… And in which case, I might just start traveling again!! :)

(This excludes all our family trips btw, like taking beach trips or other fun weekend getaways… I still do all that, just not the 7 day boys trips anymore to exotic locales! Which incidentally helps with almost every single item on this list as well, haha…)

#5. I eat 100x healthier now! Long gone are the 10pm dinners or late-night snacking in those earlier days! They’re now replaced with more “adult” eating times, and thoroughly better balanced meals. Saving me both calories, AND future health costs! :)

#6. I sleep 100x better now! (Outside of the baby periods) Once we got our meal times in check, I found myself “settling in” better too, with more reasonable sleeping hours enacted and now showered and in bed by around 9 o’clock every night for some “me” time… Providing me with substantially more mental – and physical! – energy the following day which can only help both the wallet and health long term! And the 5 am wake ups have only added to this, giving me a couple extra hours of *hustle* time before the household awakes. (And I swear – I’m still having the most VIVID dreams ever since waking up early!! It’s so surreal and literally happens almost every night!)

And lastly,

#7. I avoid doing anything that increases the odds of me dying sooner :) Because after all, you can’t very well grow your wealth if you’re gone and dead! Haha… But also because the thought of leaving my kids FATHERLESS is just way too much for me to bear (big shock), so I’m always doing my best to avoid anything that speeds up those chances… Like smoking my once beloved cigars, or finally getting that motorcycle I had previously wanted before having kids.

I know you can’t avoid everything in life – and I swear I actually DO have a lot of fun! Haha… – but so long as I have control over things, I will continue skirting the reaper as best I can so my kids (and wallet) continue to have their pops around helping guide them through life… Vices are fun, but you can have just as much fun without them too!

And really that last line there sums it up pretty well since having kids…

Yeah I’m better at saving and prioritizing now since I don’t “get out there” as much, but a bulk of my changes have come from purely just wanting to be the best damn father I can be for them – which means taking care of myself as much as taking care of my kids.

I don’t always win out and still very much have my weaknesses, but it’s a constant goal I strive for and any financial gains that happen to come from it is only added incentive.

Kids are still hella expensive, not gonna lie!, but at least they can change your life for the better too ;) They don’t totally drain all the joy and money from your life! Haha…

Anyways, let this be a counterpoint to all those “you can’t afford kids” articles out there, and if it’s something you truly want in your life one day I hope you do go for it and you’ll adapt just fine…

Now I have to go log off for a bit before these computer screens end up giving me iCancer!! I swear that’s going to be a thing* down the road and I have a family to raise!!! ;)

j. money signature

*Just kidding, I hope…

**Family portrait above by my 7 y/o… can you tell which one is me?

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Josh May 2, 2019 at 6:01 am

I can’t believe you forgot one of the most common ones! They’re all cute little tax deductions! :p

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2 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 6:19 am

Ahhh yes! Also very much true! Haha…

Guess my brain just doesn’t like thinking about tax stuff much ;)

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3 Leah May 2, 2019 at 6:08 am

Yes, amen to all of the above in our family as well! Especially not eating out/eating healthier.

Two other ways our family saves thousands (in spavings) is through the tax deductions/dependent care FSA contributions, and also through contributions to their 529 college savings plan (tax deductible in our state of CT). Of course, we wouldn’t save either if we weren’t shelling out in the first place… but… every little bit counts.

Also, amen to pushing past fear of the costs (and they are high… emotionally, financially, physically) and having kids when you’re ready for them. There are many moments when I sit back and watch my little buggers (5 and 3) and reflect on how nothing in life can replace what they have brought into it. It is something no amount of money can buy….

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4 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 6:26 am

Agreed :) One of those things that you always hear people talking about but can’t fully appreciate until you’re there living it.

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5 Cathy May 2, 2019 at 7:14 am

I don’t have kids and all of the above are true of me compared to my younger self too. I love eating out but don’t do it above once a month now because I’m trying to save for early retirement. I certainly don’t party and I hardly drink. I don’t travel much either, though I hesitate to say it because this seems to be a big thing in the FIRE community, but it’s one of the ways I save money. I enjoy travelling, but I don’t enjoy it more than hanging out at home in peace and quiet. Happy to do more travel later, when I’ve retired, and can book tickets etc when they are cheaper and take my own time because I won’t have a job to rush back to. I’m probably taking a small risk putting it off but that’s fine. :)

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6 Jon May 2, 2019 at 8:15 am

I was thinking the same thing. That post is totally me vs 5 years ago. I don’t have kids either. So the tips can be totally unrelated to kids.

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7 Kate May 2, 2019 at 8:18 am

Cathy! I came here to say the say thing! I don’t have kids (except for a cute little hairy four legger one!) and “growing up” has pretty much has me ticking all of the above too. Long weekend coming up in England… Am I going out for a meal then clubbing with a group of mates? Am I flying off to do a Euro “city break”? Am I hosting a party for my 30 closest friends? No! I’ve got weeds that need pulling, a vegetarian soup recipe to try, a book to finish reading, and a few naps planned! This is 40, eh?!

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8 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Love it all, haha…

Kids or no kids it’s great how we transform over the years :) It doesn’t always feel like it, but smart people are always adapting to new goals/priorities/mind sets as they learn and experience things daily. That’s how you grow!

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9 Chris Mamula May 2, 2019 at 8:12 am

So true! (Though equally true that could have titled this “Why Kids Make Us Lame”)
#1 & #5 go together. Restaurants suck with kids!
#2 & #6 go together, I go to bed by 9 pm. Hard to spend at the bar.
#4 I’d even add day trips to that. Used to go to a fair number of sporting events. After daughter, even turned down free tix & sure not spending $100+ for tix + beer + parking b/c rather be home with her ( & who can stay up that late!)
#7 — Definitely made me re-assess value of climbing and mountaineering adventures.

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10 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Haha – it does probably make us lame to others ;)

I’ve stopped getting invites to a lot of things once certain friends (without kids) caught on…

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11 Money Beagle May 2, 2019 at 8:20 am

Interesting thoughts. We definitely go out a little less. As far as travel, we have had a camper and we go out for quite a few nights per year, well over 20. That definitely adds up in cost, but it’s all worth it. We have so many family memories from those trips, it’s incredible.

But yeah, the tax deductions are big. This year, we got a decent refund but it was basically all because of the increase in the child credits with the new tax law.

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12 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:21 pm

We talk about doing the camper stuff sometimes, and then we have another baby and I’m like NOPE! But as soon as we stop all that and the kids are a bit older I’d love to finally give it a try :)

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13 Slacker Jo May 2, 2019 at 9:22 am

Glad to hear you are taking care of YOUR health. So many parents sacrifice their health for their kids and it catches up with them in the end, usually when the kids need them the most.

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14 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:23 pm

True :( I don’t even know how *single* parents do it either!! It’s hard enough with two, no less one! They get all the credit in the world and have to be drained daily.

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15 Joe May 2, 2019 at 9:54 am

Our son is a bit older now and he can behave at a restaurant, sometimes. Occasionally, he still throws a tantrum and ruins a night out. That’s why we don’t go out that much anymore. Why pay so much to have a crappy experience? Better to eat at home.

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16 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:23 pm

That too yes, haha… Though for us that usually happens in Target when we don’t let them buy every last toy they gaze upon :)

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17 Physician on FIRE May 2, 2019 at 10:11 am

And you won’t even have to leave town for FinCon this year.

Don’t worry; they do grow older and more capable, eventually. Once they’re all three out of diapers, done with naps, and capable of feeding themselves without half of the meal ending up on their face / shirt / the floor, they travel pretty well.

Cheers!
-PoF

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18 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:24 pm

I’ll be ready for it!! :)

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19 Rho | Their Money Goals May 2, 2019 at 10:21 am

I relate to all of this, but especially #1 and #4. We used to go out to eat all the time, but it’s much more difficult with a toddler and infant, so we rarely do anymore. And I hardly travel, but when I do, I make it as short a trip as possible.

Love that you’re putting so much effort into being a good dad and that you’re reaping financial benefits in the process lol.

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20 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:24 pm

Thanks Rho – I have my moments but I’m always trying :)

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21 Minimal Millionaire Mom May 2, 2019 at 12:20 pm

And I’d say entertainment costs can be pretty low (especially when they are little)…they are the entertainment.

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22 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 1:33 pm

And can also be entertained easily too :) We just played with a bunch of empty plastic bottles and some pots haha… doesn’t take much!

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23 Tawcan May 2, 2019 at 4:41 pm

So very true on all these points. #7 is interesting though, can’t say I’ve done that consciously but subconsciously for sure. I’m probably driving safer now with kids.

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24 J. Money May 2, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Would you go skydiving if given the opportunity? :) That’s the question that usually lets you know how much of a factor it is or not post kids, haha…

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25 Kris May 2, 2019 at 7:37 pm

All of this is spot on. I need to work on sleeping early because my 3 year old wakes up around 6 in the morning. Heading to bed close to midnight the night before when that happens will make you regret sleeping that late.

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26 J. Money May 3, 2019 at 6:07 am

Totally! The sleeping part is the hardest with kids – that one took a while for me to adjust to… And then we went out and had another baby and had to start all over again! Haha…

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27 Tom May 3, 2019 at 9:14 am

Funny post. My kids help me save on a gym membership. I bought my weights so I can work out at home. Plus, if I don’t use them, I don’t have to feel bad about not using my membership.

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28 J. Money May 3, 2019 at 9:48 am

Haha, good point…

We take walks all the time ourselves so I suppose they help me in the exercise department too :)

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29 Chickee May 3, 2019 at 11:38 pm

I really respect the fact that you’re trying your best to be a great dad. Your family is lucky to have you!

The article and the comments though are really interesting because they’re a perfect example of what the social psychologist Dan Gilbert calls Rationalization.

There’s a thought provoking blog he posted entitled “Does Fatherhood Make You Happy?” which I think is a good supplemental read for this post.

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30 J. Money May 6, 2019 at 7:33 am

Oh cool – will check out, thanks! Glad you found this interesting! :)

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31 Deanna May 6, 2019 at 7:29 am

You sound like a great Dad, J$. I’m not a parent (I am a proud Auntie) but raising humans still seems like one of the best things in life…ever.

Cherish them.

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32 J. Money May 6, 2019 at 7:35 am

Thanks D$ – I try my best! It’s definitely an adventure, that’s for sure haha….

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33 The Frugal Engineers May 7, 2019 at 4:29 pm

We switched from going out to restaurants, to instead going out for ice cream with our kid. She never really ate anything at a restaurant anyway (beside a grilled cheese or mac and cheese or some other combination of white carbs and cheese), and none of us could actually enjoy it. Now we get our “get out of the house for good food” fix by just eating dinner at home, then going out for dessert once in a while. Fraction of the price, and an even better experience than getting through a restaurant meal with a wiggly kid who is tired of coloring the menu.

Our travel costs have decreased too since we changed the type of vacations we take. Plane tickets for a whole family cost a LOT of money, so we take road trips now instead. We get to go at our own pace, bring our own food in a cooler, play games in the car, listen to loud music… much more enjoyable than trying to act civilized on a crowded airplane :)

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34 J. Money May 8, 2019 at 6:14 am

Haha – y’all have figured the game out ;)

Love the idea with the ice cream outings!

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35 Bella Marin May 13, 2019 at 5:16 pm

such a sweet and positive post, really puts things into perspective. keep it up

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36 J. Money May 14, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Glad you enjoyed, Bella!

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