The most recent figures on the cost of raising children in Australia, released last year by AMP and The University of Canberra, found the cost of raising two children in Australia for a family on a middle income will set you back $812,000. Oh dear! Well let’s not think about it all in one go, let’s break it down in years and relax a little.

Raising children is expensive – yep, we all know that!

So here are 10 instant ways to save some money on them on the way:

  1. Buy second hand whenever you can for whatever you can – this can save you thousands of dollars alone over the years. I’d probably skip a second hand car seat though! Put things that can be washed in the dishwasher and run it through a cycle to remove germs if you’re a bit ‘iffy’ about the germ factor and of course wash all the second hand clothes well before wearing. Hand down clothes whenever you can and think about buying a good amount of unisex clothing if you’re thinking about having more than one child.
  2. Cook up bulk amounts of the foods they like and freeze them – kids can be fussy eaters so if you’ve found a food that they love, stock up on it! Cook extra and freeze it in portions to make life easier for yourself and save on wasted dinners. This can be anything from spaghetti bolognaise to chocolate cake slices. Kids shouldn’t be eating fast food so think ahead and plan their nutrition.
  3. Do they really need all those toys? – Buying kids toys used to only happen occasionally and at Christmas or birthdays. These days they seem to have everything they want as soon as it’s put on sale in the shops. Unstructured play is a very important part of childhood and development. Just think back to what you remember doing and had fun doing as a child. Save old containers and cups for water play and bath time. Leave the fancy toys for the relatives to buy as gifts and give your kids your time instead of the latest fad toy.
  4. Healthcare costs – healthcare costs for children have risen significantly since the 1960’s. Try not to panic and visit the doctor for small things such as colds and small cuts that can be treated quite appropriately at home. Have a well stocked medicine cabinet and a medical book always handy to know how to treat your child. Of course if you feel that you can’t do this or if your child is getting sicker then see a doctor or perhaps visit the chemist first for advice.
  5. Ditch your brand allegiance – Seriously, do you think your baby is happy because they are wearing Huggies or Dolce Gabana? And do you truly believe children who are bathed with Johnson and Johnson bath soaps will be more adjusted in adulthood? Companies market so you ask yourself, “Do you really love your child?” As a result, we feel like if we love them we need to give them the best so we somehow think spending more money on them is giving them the best. It’s not, and it’s not good for them in the long run if you’re not financially stable.
  6. Collect some gifts – Throughout the year your kids will be invited to many birthday parties so stock up on reasonable gifts when you see something on sale. Books and quirky gift items from the post office are always a hit! You don’t want to over pay for gifts at the last minute. And of course buy cards and wrapping from the cheap stores so you’ll never be caught short.
  7. Buy in bulk – Now think outside the square a bit here, what do your kids go through the most? It might be toilet paper, nappies, wipes, breakfast cereals, cheese, biscuits or fruit bars. Whatever it is try to source those items in bulk amounts because it will save you money. And if you’re not too fussy about brand names, you can save even more by choosing less popular brands, which are often just as good. Try the online stores for good deals – Grocery Run or Catch of the Day for example.
  8. Do what you can yourself – Did you get your hair cut at the hairdressers when you were two years old? Probably not, and your kids don’t need to either. Learn how to cut your child’s hair and and save time, hassle and money. What else do you pay for that you can do yourself?
  9. Limit paying for sports – Sporting activities are great for kids, don’t get me wrong I think kids need activity but one sport each they enjoy is enough to pay for. Again you don’t need to pay for getting your kids healthy, active and fit. Outdoor play will do that for you for free! Think about what your child likes to do, ask them what they’d like to do and support one choice wholeheartedly.
  10. Find free things to do – You don’t need to spend money to entertain the kids. There are wonderful parks and facilities around that are put there just for the kids to enjoy so let them! They’ll use their imaginations, interact with other kids and have a ball. Here are some more free and low cost ideas.
  • Attend free concerts
  • Go to museums
  • Check out community events
  • Go to the park
  • Borrow or rent movies
  • Bowl
  • Try backyard camping for the weekend
  • Play miniature golf
  • See movies at discount times
  • Play cards and board games
  • Have Christmas in July when goods are on sale
  • Take free tours
  • Walk around your neighbourhood
  • Take the frizbee or ball to the local park grounds
  • Go to the beach for a while
  • Take a picnic to a new area to explore

Do you have any other suggestions to add to the list? Please share in the comments below.

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  • spending time with your kids costs nothing and makes good memories with them. show them that they are worth it


  • We often wait for movies to come out on DVD. If we have heard that they are really good movies that we are likely to watch more than once we often wait for them to drop in price a bit then buy them. Cheaper than one person going to the movies, cheaper than hiring it if you are likely to watch it a few times over the years and share it with others. Certainly cheaper than a family of 4. We often take the kids to various favourite picnic parks (especially if there is playground equipment too) and favourite beaches. They tell us if they think we are going the wrong way too. ggrrr!!! I wish items such as fridges, stoves etc. still cam in proper cartons. One of them opened both ends would entertain our friends and ourselves for hours when we were young kids. We would use them as tunnels, hide in them and get up to all sorts of mischief. We made all sorts of things sticking toilet rolls together- spy glasses, binoculars. We did all sorts of things with various size cereal boxes too.


  • Great ideas. I really need to put some of these into practice, especially with a third on the way!


  • Some amazing tips here and things that I had not thought of thanks so much


  • Thank-you! I’m always trying to find ways to save anywhere I can :) this will help a lot.


  • Garage sales for craft items ti make a craft box. My son spends hours cutting gluing colouring and creating masterpieces to give to those he loves


  • some great tips here, thank you for sharing these..


  • last weekend, i knew my house was over due for cleaning and my garden never ending weeding but i was bored. on sat i just said ok kids we’re going to the park. my kids fight when they are bored and i was pulling my hair out. my son whos interested in rocks took along his rock hammer, an old camera that my kids can share together, food and a drink bottle in the back pack….made a deal who ever sees a kangaroo first, don’t have to do the dishes….mum won and there goes the first introduction of kids learning to do the dishes when we got home…we went for a walk and because my son took along his rock hammer and taking photos, i got him distracted from walking as he dislikes walking… we walked, took photos, look for rocks and kangaroos, played with the autumn leaves and in the end played at the park.
    im now doing research for free things to do in my area or an hr drive away. its a start, this article has given me some ideas.


  • There are a lot of good points & tips on here!
    We do buy in bulk as it does work out cheaper.
    Cooking meals ahead of time is handy & saves time, but as I learnt earlier this evening, do not freeze in plastic containers!
    We also do a lot of free family fun activities.
    Sunday is strictly family day, a day playing & having a picnic at the park, BBQ down at the river, a day of fishing off the river bank, playing games at home, taking a drive.
    There are multiple family bonding activities for families on a budget.
    Thank you for sharing!


  • Another way to save on kids is to organize birthday parties at home. It’s a lot more work than using a venue but a lot cheaper and surely more rewarding.


  • I would add make good use of the public school system. That will save you a lot of money.
    Indeed avoid brand clothing. And use toys libraries. I’ve seen different ones around Australia. Instead of buying toys, you loan them.


  • Some great tips there. Another huge savings is to pack school lunches.


  • Share some things with other parents if you can – we do a toy swap with some friends every six months or so.


  • I agree with the comment about babyseats etc. You have no way of knowing whether or not they have been in a vehicle that has been in any type of vehicle incident. I am not sure it is even legal to sell a used babyseat. If it is still sealed in its original carton it means it is new. Ask for the docket to ensure it is definitely new. If you are re-using your own babyseat you may need the harness webbing to be replaced as it does perish, especially if the car is constantly not undercover the sun and heat takes its toll, often on the cover as well. The polyeurethane in the cheaper booster seats also perishes and can split. Not sure they pass Australian Standards any more……I suggest covering the seats by throwing a piece of material over them to protect them. A towel, an old sheet (even a small one) or similar will do a good job in protecting your seat and and car seat belt that you fit through it. You car seat belts are not normally stretched tight permanently so they benefit from beint protected.


  • This is a great list with lots of great tips. We try to limit car use and walk wherever possible to reduce car costs.


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