CORVALLIS - If there's one lesson to be learned from the USDA report, "Expenditures on Children by Families," it's this: Children don't come cheap.
The arrival of a child causes many families to remake a family budget. And, in addition to a new budget, it often means reducing some expenditures.
"Learning to budget and spend less takes work. It takes new skills and practice to find the best way to stretch the family budget," said Alice Mills Morrow, Oregon State University Extension family resource specialist.
Here are some ideas for ways to cut spending:
Don't buy it. Ask yourself if you really need the item, or if there's something else you want more. If you have a hard time not buying, stay out of stores. When you do go shopping, take only the money you need for your planned purchases.
- Borrow-not money, but items you might otherwise buy. This approach is especially appropriate if it's something you don't need very often. And remember the library and other public services when it comes to borrowing.
- Share. You can stretch your dollars by sharing with family, friends or neighbors. Sharing allows you to buy in bulk, which cuts the cost per item.
- Substitute if a lower priced item would do the job just as well.
- Use wisely. Make the items you buy last longer by taking good care of them.
- Find the best buy. It may take longer, but shopping around, checking catalogs, newspaper ads, and the internet, and visiting two or three stores can save you money. So can shopping in second hand stores.
- Make it. The cost of materials should be cheaper than the finished product. But check prices and assess your skills and time before you decide to make something. Unfinished or unusable homemade projects don't save money.
- Rent. When you need something for only a short time, it could be cheaper to rent it.
- Trade or barter. You may have things you no longer want or need that may have value to others. Consider trading them for things you need or selling them. You may also have skills that you could trade with a neighbor or friend in return for something you need.