Kids can be so expensive. There is the expected expenses of clothing and feeding them. Then there are the unexpected expenses of injuries, wisdom teeth, illnesses, and notes from school saying they owe money for this or that. Either way, kids cost money.
I am here to tell you that after raising two kids to adulthood and two kids on their way to adulthood, kids do not have to be expensive at all. In fact, you can raise kids rather frugally. Most of these tactics are not one-time savings ideas but are everyday savings ideas. Whether you are a prepper, homesteader, or average suburban family, these ideas are all for you.
I want to preface this list by saying if you are serious about raising your kids frugally, then you need to put yourself into a frugal mindset. Being frugal is not a one-time thing. Being frugal is saving and not spending money every day and every minute of the day. Being frugal is in the decisions you make and what you are willing to do to have to spend any more money than you have to.
20 Ideas For Raising Kids Frugally
1. Teach your kids to make do with what they have instead of having to have something new.
2. Encourage your kids' creativity in what they can do with what they have. Have them play dress-up and use their imaginations. Let them build forts in the living room. Let them draw on scratch paper. All of this costs you very little or nothing and the kids are much better for it.
3. Accept hand me down clothes, toys, and any baby goods you can. Free is good!
4. Learn to go to the thrift and consignment shops first for clothes and baby goods before going to a regular store.
5. Look on eBay and Craigslist for used goods and presents that your kids need.
6. Teach your kids the difference between needs and wants. They might need regular training on this especially when they are preteens and teenagers.
7. Before shopping for back to school goods, look at what they had the year before and reuse the backpacks and supplies that can be reused.
8. Scour garage sales for what they need and for presents. I have found many brand new things at garage sales and spent little on presents.
9. Teach them when they are little that leftovers are a good thing! They should know that leftover food should be eaten the next day or two so that food is not wasted.
10. Pack their school lunches instead of buying hot lunches from school. It is cheaper and a whole lot healthier for them to take their own lunches. If you have kids with food allergies or intolerances, taking your own food is so much cheaper and you don't have to battle with the school.
11. Limit gift-giving. We only do 4-5 presents for Christmas and birthdays. Easter is a small gift basket. Holidays are no excuse for going overboard on presents and busting your budget. By keeping the expectations of the holidays reasonable, you are keeping their expectations reasonable too.
12. If you have multiple children, keep all the decent hand me down clothes for the next kid. Even if you have three girls and one boy, a lot of the tee shirts, sweatshirts, and gym shorts could be passed down girl to boy and vice versa. If you have baby clothes, keep them as neutral as possible to pass down also.
13. Learn to mend clothes and repair shoes and toys. Fixing things is a lot cheaper than buying new ones.
14. Say no to a lot of activities that your kids can be in. One or two activities is not a bad thing, but sports and dance classes can really rack up the dollars. Kids exploring their passions and figuring out what they want to be interested in should not be discouraged, but being in several things at once is very costly financially and mentally.
15. Eating out should be a treat. Kids should not be eating out or being taken through the drive-thru several times a week. Eating at home is so much cheaper and healthier.
16. Say no to your kids. Kids do not have to have everything their little hearts desire. In fact, teaching them limits now will only benefit you and them later. If you can't handle their temper tantrums and sad faces, you need to understand that this is a part of parenting and deal with it.
17. Say no to a lot of the school expenses. Fundraisers, t-shirts, doodads, and whatnots get to be very expensive very fast. I don't blame the schools for trying to raise money because the budgets are so tight. I don't have a problem with my own kids trying to raise their money for trips. However, I am very discerning about which fundraisers we buy from and what school things we buy. If my kids want to spend their own money on those things, they can.
18. Limit electronics and cellphones. Your kids do not need to be on their electronics all the time especially at a young age. Cellphones should not be given to anyone under 13 years of age except in certain cases. All these things cost money for the plans, the electricity, and the time wasted on them. Trust me, we have made many mistakes in this category and I am just telling you what I have learned. Limit the electronics and kids will find out they have other interests and hobbies.
19. Limit their toys and clothes. Again, this is another category that I have made many mistakes. More clothes and more toys are expensive and not just to your pocketbook, but your time. Also, kids learn to be discontented when they have a lot of things because they expect more. If they have a few toys, enough clothes for a week or two, and you tell them no to more, they will learn to be happy with what they have.
20. Say yes to free classes and free experiences. A lot of things for kids are offered for free and you should be on the lookout for that. Your extension office, schools, local conservation groups, churches, and so many more groups offer all sorts of free things that you can take advantage of for your kids.
There are so many more ways to save money while raising kids. These are the lessons that I learned and am still learning. These are the tips that helped me. While I had help from grandparents, I still have to do what I could to save money so I could make ends meet. I bet a lot of you are in the same situation.
What are your favorite ways to raise your kids frugally?
Thanks for reading,