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Squeezing the Family Budget has this wonderful table of how much it cost to raise kids till 17 yrs. of age for different income ranges. From $124K to something edging closer to $200K, the bottom line is, it ain’t a cheap undertaking.

For a couple earning well, you’d think we wouldn’t have any problems with our one daughter. The reality of it all is that half my paycheck goes to daycare, the other half goes to paying our student loans. Throw in mortgage payments, car payments, insurance, groceries, utilities, and we’re very squeezed at the end of the month. I wish we could qualify for government assistance. Hey, I’m not too proud to accept some money for groceries and baby diapers.

Is there anything I’ve learned that I can impart on any reader as bits of wisdom? Here are the top 3 things:

1. Try to get grants, pay for yourself, or get scholarship to pay for school. Anything that can mitigate that cost of a degree will save you hundreds upon hundreds later on. I don’t regret getting my degree, and neither does my husband, but I just wish we had been more proactive in paying for it ourselves. If not all, then a bigger portion of it.

2. Never stretch for a house. We stayed within the 2.5 times your salary rule, but still, I wish we had gotten a more affordable home, or rented until we could afford a home in a premium neighborhood. This advice includes buying furniture and appliances for your home. PAY CASH as much as possible. Fill your house up slowly.

3. Save, save, save. You will thank yourselves for saving when you have that child, and all the unexpected expenses come up. When you find that your heart is breaking because you have to live your child in a daycare, that savings could be the cushion that will allow you to stay home for much longer. Or for super-savers, the nest egg could allow you to even stay home indefinitely or with a part-time job.

With the financial realities the way they are today, a budget is just stretched in so many ways. These three tips are just some of many your family can adopt in order to loosen the squeeze on the family budget.

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