06/18/2013

By Sara Gilbert, GreenPath manager for Colorado and Wyoming

My daughter has a baby on the way and our family is thrilled about welcoming this new member. But according to Parenting.com, it will cost more than $300,000 to get that baby to age 18.

Care for baby’s first year alone is expected to cost more than $14,000. That is a figure that should have moms and dads alike considering ways to keep their budget on track and their family secure.

Here are some recommendations and low-cost ideas to help families just starting out:

Make sure your kids have health insurance. Kids will need medical care and making sure that they are covered for medical visits is critical.

Plan for the unexpected and purchase life insurance. Term Insurance can be relatively inexpensive for healthy young adults. This insurance could provide stability for your family, if a parent dies. Create a will and select trusted adults to act as guardians, should they be needed.

Start a college savings plan. College costs continue to rise and students are borrowing more than ever. Give your kids a boost and start saving early.

Kids grow like weeds, so keeping them clothed and equipped can be a major expense. Keep an eye out for yard sales or shop at used clothing stores. Giving your school-age or older children a few dollars and a budget might be the beginning of some good shopping and budgeting lessons.

Research baby products and toys online, making sure that any baby cribs or other items have the most updated consumer protections. Check for safety recalls before purchasing used baby furniture and toys.

Plant a garden or shop at local farmers markets. Getting low-cost produce will aid your family’s healthy eating habits and save money. Avoid eating out. Cooking healthy meals at home will set the right example and save money.

Always shop with a list and have plan some menus for the week. Use coupons and buy store brands when it makes sense.

Look for free and low-cost ways to have fun. Make sure everyone in your family has a library card. Find entertainment through community concerts, local parks and walking trails.

If both parents work, day care will be a huge expense. Parents might consider trying to work different shifts to cut costs. For occasional babysitter needs, create a co-op with friends to take turns watching the kids.

Making smart spending choices along the way should help you protect your budget and provide your kids the right example about living within their means.