15 Moms on Their Smartest Money Moves After Having Kids

Wendy Robinson | May 4, 2016 Money

family timeThere is no doubt that deciding to have kids is one of the biggest, and most expensive, decisions in our lives. According to some estimates, having a child can easily add over $15,000 a year to your annual expenses. It is a good thing they are cute, right?

Given that kids can be expensive, we are always on the hunt for smart money moves. We asked moms to share their best money moves after having kids and were impressed by the smart and sometimes surprising strategies families are using to keep budgets, values, and even financial sanity in check during these expensive years.

Read on for smart thinking from moms making it work.


Image via iStock.com/kupicoo

  • Small House Choices


    "Our smartest move was not buying a bigger house. Reduces our mortgage payment, and smaller space means we have to be selective about what we buy." -- Leslie B., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Travel Cheap


    "We have three young kids, so for right now, expensive vacations are just not doable. Disney is out, but camping is in! I actually love doing cheap camping vacations with the kids. We are making memories and proving to them that they can survive for days at a time without iPads. A miracle!" -- Cassie H., Holland, Michigan

  • Start Saving Early


    "Starting 529 account for all three kids; a nanny (saves our sanity); kept working (we can travel with our kids around the world); keep maxing 401(k)s; buying kids clothes off season; not moving away from grandparents (babysitters); getting rid of cable; buying a 'cheaper' bigger house and sub contracting a remodel to have four bedrooms on one level. Also, considering doing a grocery delivery service, cleaning service, and someone to do yard work in spring/fall -- this would help my insanity even more." -- Jaclyn M., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Get Professional Advice


    "One thing we do is see a financial planner once a year, just to stay accountable. We also pull our credit reports before the appointment to watch for identity theft. Knowing we're going to have a yearly 'checkup' keeps us motivated to stay on track with things like saving for college for the kids." -- Beth T., Los Alamos, New Mexico

    More from The Stir: 4 College Savings Mistakes You're Probably Making

  • Living on Cash


    "Our best money moves are: paying cash for everything and living with zero credit card debt; not buying a bigger house and living with what we have, which will be paid off in the next eight years; [and] not buying new cars.

    This has allowed my husband to be a stay-at-home dad, while I work. It has been worth every single sacrifice to have him home with the kids." -- Juli P., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Get Help


    "A house cleaner/organizer and someone to cut the lawn every other week. Basically, help so I'm not doing it all myself. I consider this paying for my time." -- Jenn A., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Cabin Fever


    "Our money move was building a cabin with my in-laws/brother-in-law. I'd be lying if I didn't say it has been a HUGE adjustment for me, as I didn't grow up with this; however, I have quickly learned what an amazing outlet it is for my husband. It truly feeds his soul to be one with nature. My children also LOVE to go up there, and while there, [they] truly have the time of their life. A smart investment money-wise, and it has also forced me to face some of my biggest fears head-on, like TICKS, being in the middle of nowhere, and realizing we are fine and collaborating with others besides my husband on big decisions.

    This was a decision we came to after losing our firstborn, and I think it saved our marriage in the end. I feel incredibly fortunate and lucky to have made this decision; it provided another level of grieving together that I didn't know was even possible." -- Jenn S., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Staying Home


    "As hard as it is on me, deciding to stay home with the kiddos for this stretch was our best money decision. My husband's workload and schedule is all we could handle. I have missed working and feeling like an 'adult,' but [I] know it was the right thing for our family at the time." -- Christina S., Highland Park, Illinois

  • Student Loans


    "Although it is hard paying $1,200 a month on my law school loans, I know that this was the best choice I made in terms of family. I got my law degree when my youngest was a baby, and my salary has grown 60 percent since then. I know getting my education gives us more financial stability." -- Sharon A., Spokane, Washington

    More from The Stir: Not Having Enough Money Means Making Bad Choices for Your Family

  • Nanny Dearest


    "We live somewhere that is VERY expensive for childcare, so joining forces with a friend to do a nanny share has been brilliant. We are both able to keep working and we cut our childcare costs almost in half." -- Becky T., Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • The 'B' Word


    "Having kids forced us to finally get [it] together and make and follow a budget. We want to make sure we can provide for things like sports, lessons, and chances to travel for the kids, so we are trying to be more mindful of wasted spending in other areas." -- Sarah F., Tucson, Arizona

  • Don't Go Big


    "Both times we bought a house they were purchased way under what we were approved for. It used to be that they'd give you SO much money. It made things easier when we both went back to school and when hubs was laid off years ago. Oh and also, we can get by on just his salary, so I can be a stay-at-home mom." -- Tricia W., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Salary Adjustments


    "Our two best money moves were starting a savings account before each baby for when I was on maternity leave and just recently we asked both jobs to reduce our bonus money and increase our salaries. We end up with the same account of money, but we can budget better and plan better." -- Laura W., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Paying Off the House


    "I'm happy that we started a college fund when she was born. Also smart was working until the house was paid off, then taking time off when she was in middle school / early high school." -- Nadine E., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • The Big V


    "The smartest money move was having my husband get a vasectomy! Not only are we saving on birth control, but no more babies is cheaper than having more babies!" -- Muriel D., Rochester, New York

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