Pomona College Magazine
Volume 45, No. 1
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The Cynical Parent’s Guide to Saving Money

By Kate (Finger) Tribbett ’00

So you got your brain filled with all sorts of big ideas, landed a low-paying job trying to make the world a better place, and then went and got yourself a kid. And now you are paying for it. Literally. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, your family may spend more than $250,000 raising your precious little snowflake, and that’s not even including college. Fortunately, you can cut those costs with a little bit of creativity:

Don’t buy any toys for your baby. First of all, you will get them as gifts. Secondly, all babies want to play with is Tupperware and wooden spoons.

Plan to have your baby exactly one year after close friends have theirs. That way you can borrow all the baby gear without having to shell out the dough.

Disown family members who ask you to fly out to see them. Traveling with kids is an expensive pain in the neck. On the other hand, family members who fly to visit you are great sources of presents—clothes, toys and dinners out.

This is a great time to find religion. Many churches and synagogues have free or cheap preschool. Some cults may even provide some free group housing.

Don’t buy the fancy baby-proofing supplies. Swipe bubble wrap from your office for hard edges. Chicken wire makes a perfectly good baby gate.

Drop as many hints as possible about how much you disapprove of expensive toys. This will make your in-laws much more likely to buy them for your kids out of spite.

Elementary Years
Environmentalism is always a great excuse for not buying toys or going on expensive vacations. Try saying, “we live simply so that others may simply live,” when saying “no” to toy requests. It sounds better.

Take up family camping. The kids will love it because they don’t have to shower and a yearly park pass is way cheaper than Disney World.

Try to help your child become an unpopular weirdo. Fewer birthday party invites mean fewer gifts to buy.

Middle School & High School Years
Home haircuts are a money saver and, if done right, may also help out with the aforementioned weirdness.

Get your teen his or her own credit card as part of an allowance. Not only does it allow you to track how much he/she is spending on clothes, entertainment, etc., it also helps teach your child about managing money and may plant the seeds for legal emancipation (a great savings plan for parents).

Convince your kid that Pomona is the only school in the world worth attending. Now that Pomona is giving grants instead of loans, college has never been cheaper. Then they can grow up and afford the therapy they will need after all your years of “creative savings.”

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by Pomona College
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