When young couples think about starting a family, the first expenses that come to mind are often parental leave and childcare. While these early expenses certainly impact household finances, the cost of raising children doesn’t stop there.

In fact, raising a child today to the age of 18 can cost as much as $233,000, finds TD Economics. And the majority of Canadian parents (57%) are not prepared for this expense.

Read: Help new parents budget, save

“Getting a head start and taking advantage of a TFSA or RESP when children are very young can make a significant impact by the time children reach their teens,” says Janice Farrell Jones of TD Canada Trust.

Here are some tips to help.

1. Plan for the unexpected. Canadian parents report the expenses they were unprepared for included sports and extracurricular activities (30%), vacations or summer camps (19%), clothing, toys and games (14%). To help offset unexpected expenses, Farrell Jones recommends creating savings funds by starting a TFSA. The savings grow tax-free and a variety of investments can be held in a TFSA, including mutual funds and GICs.

Read: Money management lessons for parents

“Goals are easier to achieve when broken down into manageable chunks,” she says. “Instead of committing to a $2,400 annual TFSA contribution, consider setting up an automatic transfer of $200 a month. The money is out of the account before there is a chance to spend it.”

2. Save early. Less than half of Canadian parents (46%) have some type of education savings for their child. So most are missing out on saving through an RESP.

Read: Parents carry their kids’ tuition debt

It allows the income inside to grow tax-free. When funds are withdrawn for school, it is taxed at the student’s income level, which is typically quite low. RESPs can also benefit from the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), an annual grant from the Canadian government which can contribute as much as $7,200 over the lifetime of an RESP.