We all know that raising a child is expensive. A middle-income, married couple with two children is estimated to spend $233,610 to raise a child born in 2015, according to a recent report released by the Department of Agriculture. This doesn’t even include college expenses, as the report only reports on birth to age 17. In the last ten years, costs have increased nearly 40 percent.

Where does this money go? Housing accounts for the largest share at 29 percent of total child-rearing costs, with food second at 18 percent, and child care/education comes in third at 16 percent. If you plan ahead and budget yourself, there are ways you can save money while raising kids.

Here are the best money-saving tips for your family:

  • Plan meals ahead: Make a menu for the week and plan out what you’ll have for dinner every night. If you’re lacking inspiration, look through your grocery store’s weekly deals and plan your meals around that. This will save you money and time during the week!
  • Shop only once during the week: If you’re constantly running back to the grocery store, chances are you’ll keep spending on unnecessary items. If you can, leave your children at home while you grocery shop, so you can pay closer attention to sales and they won’t tempt you to buy something they want but you don’t need.
  • Buy extra gifts when they’re on sale: This may seem like you’re spending more money, but buying more gifts when they’re on sale will save you cash in the long run- and won’t leave you scrambling to find a last minute gift. Toys usually go on sale in January after Christmas, with summer items on sale at the end of July. The best clothing sales are in February and August.
  • Shop online deals: It’s easier than ever to find online coupons and discounts. Install an app like Honey, which automatically applies any coupon codes it can find at checkout. Ask companies if they have websites or groups where you can test products and give your feedback in exchange for deep discounts, like this one from consumer products company SCS Direct.
  • Skip the movies or mall: Opt for cheap or free activities for your family instead. On nice weather days, take a walk in the park or go for a bike ride somewhere you’ve never been before. On rainy days, set up a board game tournament or let your kids pick out books and movies at the library.

Being smart with your money and laying out a budget for your family does not mean you have to make huge lifestyle changes. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be surprised how the benefits will add up!

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