Raising Kids With Frugality in Mind

This week was a huge week for us in the Single Mom Saves household.  I spent a good portion of my vacation working to potty train baby saves.  Turns out she’s a natural and caught on pretty quickly.  We actually had a 5 day run without a single accident!  Now, not only is this exciting because I can throw away my diaper genie, but of course I will soon be able to completely cross diapers and wipes off of my expense list, which is huge!  I decided to put baby saves in a diaper when she sleeps at night to avoid any issues, so I will still buy a small number of diapers, but hopefully I can stop buying them soon.

Once we no longer have to buy diapers, other than childcare, baby saves is just another human in my household.  Yes, she needs food and clothing, but her costs go down significantly.  Also, I’m hoping that this year is the last of our big childcare bills.  As it stands, I pay about $1200 a month to have baby saves in full-time care while I work.  I found an awesome alternative for next year that will cost me between $700 and $800 depending on the month.  I will go into this further below.

In this post I wanted to discuss some of the things that I do ( or have done) to save money as I raise my daughter.  Some of you may be raising one or more kids on one income, or just want to save money, so these tips could really be useful for anyone.

  1. Formula – I know, I could have saved money by breast feeding, but for a couple of reasons it was not in the cards.  Also, as it turned out, my daughter had an airway defect which caused her to have significant reflux.  It took some trial and error to figure out what worked best for her, but she definitely needed a gentle formula so that her condition would not be more severe.  After doing some reading, I realized that there are very strict quality controls on the production of formula.  I started buying the Target brand gentle formula.  It worked very well, and was a fraction of the cost of other name brand formulas.
  2. Diapers and wipes – For these two I’m also a huge fan of the Target brand.  The quality of both the wipes and diapers is excellent.  Also, they frequently offer a percentage off of your purchase if you use the Cartwheel app.  In addition to that, they have many sales where if you buy 2 boxes of diapers you get a $10 Target gift card.  I would save my gift cards for future baby supply purchases and it worked out really well.  Target was by far the cheapest place to buy diapers when you broke it down by cost per diaper.
  3. Childcare – I had some help with baby saves during her infant days.  Fortunately I didn’t have to go back to work until she was 6 months old.  Once I did go back, my mom watched my daughter at a discounted rate until this past school year when she was 2.  As I noted above, I pay about $1200 a month on for full-time care.  This is at a small center.  After investigating for quite awhile, I came to the conclusion that by far the cheapest full-time care/education for my preschooler is at a Catholic school near my work.  I’m not particularly religious, but the price is right, the facilities are spotless, it’s 10 minutes from my work, and they run it like a regular school with things like art, library, etc…. I have also heard that local JCC’s and other religious organizations often offer preschool at a great rate.  I highly recommend looking into this if you don’t mind a bit of religious education mixed in with your child’s ABC’s.
  4. Activities – Some people spend wayyyy too much money on activities for their young children.  I enrolled baby saves in a couple of classes during her first two years, but they were cheap and they included free admission to the indoor play center near our house for the duration of the lessons.  For example, we did a little ballet class for something like $70 over the summer.  Normally it’s $10 each time you want to go to the play center, but paying for the lessons meant that we had 6-7 weeks of lessons and unlimited access to the play center.  Overall it was a pretty good deal.  Currently, baby saves is enrolled in one thing, swim lessons.  For this, I opted to do a more costly lesson because I really think that this is a valuable skill and I wanted her to have individual attention to actually learn how to swim.  At our local swim school, these lessons start at $100 per month for once a week lessons, but then go down $89 once she moves to a larger class.  I could eliminate this from my budget, but I don’t spend much on entertainment for either one of us, so I fit this in.
  5. Clothing – I know we could go fully frugal and get all of our clothes used, but I don’t really find a need for that at this point since we don’t buy many clothes.  I am in a lucky position to have the only grandchild in my family.  Consequently, we are given a good deal of clothing by relatives and friends.  When we do buy clothes, I avoid most of the name brand items and shop at either Kmart or Target.  I do this when things are on sale and when I have Cartwheel coupons, or see other deals.  I don’t go out and just buy for buying, but I do look each season and get the items that baby saves needs.  Since she’s so young, she grows out of clothes quickly.  I would say that I spend a few hundred dollars per year on her clothes.  Once again, I could cut this item completely out of my budget, but considering the fact that I never buy myself new clothing, and the time it would take for me to scout out the things baby saves may need, I’m happy to pick things up on sale and buy brand new.

What are the things that you do to save money on child related expenses?

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