When you have kids, it can sometimes be hard to know how to budget and what exactly you should spend your money on. Here are some tips that might just help you out...
First of all, a lot of parents are tempted to send their kids to private schools instead of public ones. At private schools, there are a range of benefits. A lot of the time there are much smaller classes, meaning that your children will get more individual attention from their teachers. There are also often excellent facilities, which means that your kids might be able to learn to swim in a pool on the school grounds, they might get to act in a beautiful school theatre and take part in incredible school trips.
However, none of that matters as much as the parental influence from home. If you want your kids to be coached on how to get into college and to have some great opportunities then private school really is a good idea, particularly if you don’t have a lot of time at home or if you’d like to give your kids opportunities that you didn’t have when you were growing up. But the way you behave is the most important factor that will influence your children. If they see you reading, they’ll be a lot more likely to pick up a book and improve their own literacy skills. If you encourage them to do their homework and focus in class, then if we’re honest it doesn’t completely matter where they go to school - the work ethic you’re instilling in them is much more important. If you’re worried that your kids aren’t getting everything they need from public school, why not consider enrolling them in extracurricular classes like art, ballet and drama to extend their horizons?
A lot of the time, when you have kids, your vacations won’t be any more relaxing than the rest of your life, so it’s time to wipe away any illusions you have of spending a couple of weeks drinking margaritas and lounging in a hammock in the sun near a sparkling blue pool. When you go away with your kids, you won’t magically leave all the stress behind you at home - your baby will still be teething, your toddler will still tantrum at all the most inopportune moments, and if your kids are older, then their teenage bad moods won’t somehow be left in their messy bedrooms at home. A dream beach vacation isn’t likely to work out when you have small children, so don’t blow too much money on your vacations. A once in a lifetime trip to Disney will be something that you’ll always remember, but otherwise, why not check out Airbnb for accommodation near the coast or at a beauty spot a couple of hours away, sling your kids and all your luggage in the back of the car, and zoom off for a relaxed vacation nearby? Not having to wait around at an airport will decrease your stress levels hugely, and not having to fork out half your bank account on flights and luxury accommodation will feel fantastic when you look at your credit card statements with the vacation is over. Remember to focus on spending time together - that’s more important than going off to a tropical island.
If you have some money then the obvious solution is to consider how to make more money from that original sum. If you’ve been lucky enough to have a big end of year bonus or if you’ve inherited some money, it can be hard to know what to do with it. Of course there are a few basics that you might want to go for: you want to pay off credit card debt, top up your kids’ college funds, maybe even pay off your mortgage. But after that, what exactly should you invest in? The truth is that the most reliable investment is property.
Look around for a house for sale that you might want to decorate and sell on, or maybe even turn into a rental property. There is very little you can invest in that’s more reliable than property - not only will you probably be able to pay the mortgage with the rent that you earn, but let’s face it: people will always be looking for somewhere to live. If you’re trying to pick the right rental property for you, it’s probably a good idea to start considering factors like who exactly you want to have as tenants - if you want a family then it’s a good idea to ensure that you buy a property that’s close to good schools and facilities like playground, libraries and swimming pools. If you want to rent to young professionals, you need to ensure that the transport links are good so it’s easy for them to commute to work. Although there are a lot of things to consider, investing in property is a great way to ensure that you get your money back. It’s a good way to build up a financial legacy for your children.
One of the most important things you can invest in for your kids is a healthy lifestyle. The best way to demonstrate the importance of that is through modelling behaviour that your kids can follow - so it’s important to spend some money on good quality ingredients along with fresh fruits and vegetables and ethically farmed meat. Convenience foods are often cheaper (unless you’re going for pre-peeled oranges in Whole Foods, of course) but it is absolutely a better idea to teach your kids that in spending a little more money on healthy food, they’re making a financial investment in their own health. Cooking from scratch is something that everyone should be able to do to some extent, so make sure you start early with your kids - have them in the kitchen with you when you’re making dinner and if there are any tasks they can participate in like cracking eggs or spooning cake mixture into cupcake cases, encourage them to join in. A healthy attitude towards food is one of the best gifts you can give your kids.