10 Mind­ful Money Tricks For Brand New Par­ents

ForbesWeekly - - NEWS - BY ELIZABETH HAR­RIS, FORBES CON­TRIB­U­TOR FOL­LOW ELIZABETH HAR­RIS AT www.forbes.com/sites/eliz­a­beth­har­ris

As all new par­ents dis­cover, the role comes with lots of joy but also lots and lots and lots of ex­penses.

It’s tough to think about sav­ing and par­ent­hood when you’re fac­ing a whole new cat­e­gory of costs from health care to clothes. It’s over­whelm­ing—but here are 10 tricks that can help.

Some will have an im­me­di­ate, if small, ben­e­fit on the weekly bud­get. Oth­ers will have a last­ing im­pact on your long-term fi­nan­cial life. (And if you don’t al­ready have a rainy day fund, con­sider these tak­ing the Thrifty 50 chal­lenge to muster one fast.) All of these ef­forts will aid with the most im­por­tant change: Your mind­set. Shift­ing your think­ing overnight to align with a whole new way of life isn’t easy for any­one. Here’s how to get started.

1. Buy in bulk. Chances are you may al­ready be tak­ing ad­van­tage of stocking up on all the food and sup­plies that cost far less when you buy in quan­tity.

2. Love your li­brary. Get all of the fun of “shop­ping” for new books, music and movies—with­out any of the costs. Plus, there are usu­ally plenty of free ac­tiv­i­ties, en­ter­tain­ment and even classes you can pack your cal­en­dar with. Look

for mem­ber­ships to mu­se­ums and nearby cul­tural at­trac­tions, too. Many li­braries often have them on hand to “lend” to pa­trons for the day. 3. Trade babysit­ting. Save a small for­tune—and your san­ity. Seek friends or fam­ily who will trade days or nights out. 4. Swap clothes and toys. Pass along (and seek out) hand-me-down out­grown duds, toys and books from friends and rel­a­tives. No kids the same age? Swap your stuff for new at a thrift shop or on­line ser­vice. 5. Plant a gar­den. Reap a dou­ble ben­e­fit of sav­ing on fresh pro­duce while also es­tab­lish­ing a great fam­ily tra­di­tion with your kids. 6. Ask for help­ful gifts. In­stead of an­other dis­pos­able plas­tic toy, ask fam­ily keen to give presents for things that will really help: A new coat. Music lessons. Gear. Make a list of things that will really ben­e­fit not just your kids, but also your bud­get.

7. Form a play­group. As­sem­ble a group of friends will­ing to look af­ter each oth­ers’ kids.

8. 529s. It is never too early to start sav­ing for col­lege in a tax-savvy way such as through a 529 plan. As I found re­cently, far too few peo­ple take ad­van­tage of the huge tax ben­e­fits that ben­e­fit you most the ear­lier you start.

9. UPromise. Pro­grams such as through UPromise will ear­mark a small per­cent­age of your pur­chases at on­line mer­chants and even restau­rants to­ward col­lege sav­ings. Or­ga­nize your fam­ily and friends to con­trib­ute to the cause with­out any ex­tra cost. 10. Au­to­mate sav­ings. This is in­cred- ibly pow­er­ful thanks to the magic of com­pound­ing. The month your child is born (if not be­fore) open a sav­ings ac­count for them and au­to­mate tiny de­posits from your other ac­counts—$10 a month to start—and add a ser­vice like Acorns, which de­posits the spare change from all your trans­ac­tions by round­ing them up to the near­est dol­lar. Over the years, this will turn into a sig­nif­i­cant re­serve fund that can fuel your 529 or help in emer­gen­cies.

The most im­por­tant thing: Don’t touch it. Just for­get it is there.

As your child grows up, they can start adding as well, help­ing them to be mind­ful about money, a les­son that will last a life­time.

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