The USDA recently released a report saying that the average parent will spend $245,340 raising their child from birth to age 18. That's a lot of money!

But here's the good news: that number is just an average, and there are some easy ways that you can be different from that average and completely offset the cost of a child.

Here's how to do it.

## Buy a smaller house

Did you know that in 2013, the average single-family home sold in the United States cost $324,500, had 3+ bedrooms and was 2,662 square feet? For comparison's sake, I live in a 3-bed, 2-bath with my wife and two boys. We have plenty of room and our house is only 1,056 square feet.

So what if you went smaller? How much money could you save?

Let's say you bought a house that was 2/3 the size and price of the average. That would put you in a 1,775 square foot house costing $216,333.

Over a 30-year mortgage with a 4.25% interest rate, that simple decision could save you $132,591*.

After just one choice to be different from average, we're more than halfway to completely offsetting the cost of a child.

## Buy an older car

How much money could you save buying a used car instead of a new one?

Well, the average new car costs $32,000 and the average American takes out a $27,000 loan to buy it. They pay it off over 5 years, and then they buy another one after 6.

What if instead of following the averages, you did the following:

- Bought a $16,000 used car
- Took out a 3-year, $13,000 loan at 3% interest
- Kept the car for 10 years before making the same purchase again

That used car would save you $86,514 over the same 30-year period as your mortgage. And on top of that, your monthly payment would be $378.06 instead of the national average $471.

Those are some big savings in two directions.

## Buy lower-cost investments

If you want better investment returns, the single best thing you can do is find lower-cost investments. The lower the cost, the higher the odds of better returns.

The average mutual fund costs investors 0.75% per year, which doesn't sound like much until you compare it to some of the great options out there that only cost 0.05%.

So let's say you're putting $5,500 into an IRA each year and you earn an 8% return. By simply choosing the lower-cost investment, you would save yourself $48,439 over 30 years.

## Buy a cheaper cell phone plan

According to a recent study, the average cell phone bill these days is right around $140 per month. Well, did you know that there are options out there like Republic Wireless that give you unlimited everything for $25 per month? With that kind of difference, you could save yourself $27,900 dollars just by switching plans.

## Don't be scared

Add all those numbers up and you get to a total of $295,355 saved over the average person. Compared to the $245,360 that it costs to raise a child, you actually come out way ahead!

The point is this: don't be scared by those big numbers showing how expensive children are. Yes, babies cost money. But you have a lot of flexibility to make your own decisions, and with just a few smart choices you can make raising a family much more affordable.

The choice is yours.