Author Topic: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler  (Read 747 times)

cats

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Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« on: July 05, 2018, 10:10:05 AM »
As @MrsCoolCat mentioned in the "tips on saving money on a newborn" thread, we should have some tips for other age groups as well. The pressure to spend $$$ on crazy gadgets and tons of clothes is not quite so much there for the 2-5 age range, but the opportunities to drop major dough are still out there.  So, tell us, how do you save money on the kid stuff once you are out of the newborn stage but before your kid is off to kindergarten?  What do people tell you you "MUST" spend money on that you just...don't?

TheWifeHalf

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2018, 10:24:43 AM »
A lot of their play clothes came from garage sales.
We made a sandbox out of 10 x 10's, and bought almost all of the toys at garage sales too.  Some of my best finds were cheap Little Tykes toys, and old Tonka trucks, from the 60's, like my brothers used to have.
I used to just let them use the hose, at a small trickle, and play. The neighbors even commented on our they would see our kids out there for hours.

elliha

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2018, 10:25:33 AM »
I have found it much harder to save money on older kids. Clothes often get very worn so second hand is not as easy but still there to an extent. I find sales to be a better use of money that way actually, I buy 1-2 sizes up if it is basic clothes, 1 size up if it is the wrong season or the same for older kids sometimes. We don't do activities before they are 4-5 and then one at the time and cheap ones. The daughter has so far done one semester of jujitsu and wants to do soccer or floorball. I think we will go for soccer as that is easier to find for younger kids. When she is a little older we might re-visit martial arts but it is on hold for a while.

Kids like cheap things if you don't overflow them with expensive things. If they get to do expensive things all the time they will grow sick of them but if they are done from time to time they can be a treat that is appreciated. My kids love going to a fun land and appreciates it since it happens maybe 2 times a year, I know people who go every other weekend and their kids ask to go to the fun lands in neighboring cities because they are sick of the two we have because they go there all the time. My daughter is soon going to get to go to the cinema for the first time, we just need to find a good film. My kids like free stuff like going to the park or swimming in a lake. That is our level.

cats

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2018, 10:28:28 AM »
My "tips"

-Keep cultivating any sources of hand-me-down clothes.  Also, be okay with your kid going off to daycare wearing the same clothes s/he wore yesterday, so you don't need as many outfits.

-Our library has a great program where you can get free or discount passes to lots of kids museums, zoo, space center, etc.  Instead of signing my kid up for soccer, gymnastics, etc. at age 2, I schedule him a different outing each month.  Try to coordinate with another mom & toddler to make it a social date for myself, so then I also save some $$ and time on not having to  schedule coffee dates, etc. so often to get my own fix of adult interaction.

-Toddlers do not need fancy pre-packaged toddler foods.  Say no to pouches, kids' branded snacks, etc.  Your grocery bill will thank you.  Alternative easy/healthy snacks for us include frozen peas, cucumber slices, whole fruit, pistachios/cashews (nice and soft for kids still learning to chew), hard boiled eggs, and a concoction our son calls "bar" (food process together 3 c. oat bran, 1/2 c. almond butter, and ~6 large pieces of cooked fruit like apples, peaches, etc.  Spread in a large pan and bake at 325F for 40-60 min, until the center stops jiggling.  Freezes well.).

-You don't need to hire a babysitter to get alone time with your spouse.  If you are both working and work near each other, have dates on your lunch break.  Schedule "date night at home"once a week where you put the kid to bed and then have a nice adult dinner with wine afterwards.


mxt0133

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2018, 10:31:24 AM »
You can blow a ton of money on clothes because they are growing so fast.  Consignment stores and Goodwill will save you a boat load.  The don't have a sense of self yet (ego) at that age and it is really on the the parents that care about what the kids wear.  So it's up to you either buy new $30 shoes or used ones for $7 that will only be worn for 2-3 months.  You just have to put in a little more time to anticipate and be on the lookout for what they will need in a few months as their inventory won't always have the exact item or size you need.

Friends and Craigslist for pretty much everything else that they need, bikes, scooters, toys.  We just came from our aunt's house and came home with a Scuut bike for my youngest for free.  I have been on the lookout for a used one, brand new is $100 which means I have to earn $140 gross, they go anywhere from $15-$50 on Craigslist. 

Birthdays can also be a money pit, you are going to be invited to birthday parties that can easily cost $2k-3K, that are held in banquet halls, with catered food, DJ, photo booth, bouncy house, ect.  This can make it seem normal to spend that kind of cash for a child under 5 years old.  Trust me it's not.  You can do parties at you house or in the park which can cost well under $300 with a bit of prep-time and clean-up.

Books are the only things we really don't put much effort in trying to save because we use the library so much we have two shelves in our house.  Once for borrowed books and one for our own books.  I'm the one the usually buys them books about once a month to support our local bookstore.  We will spend hours there and just read a half dozen books that look interesting and then go to the library to borrow them.


Likewise we also give a ton of stuff away or put it up on Craiglist to pay it forward.

frooglepoodle

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2018, 02:25:11 PM »
Iím pretty sure limiting screen time indirectly saves a bundle by making it so they donít recognize the characters that are all over EVERYTHING. My son (3) gets excited when he sees things with Thomas the Tank Engine or Daniel Tiger but has no idea who Paw Patrol, superheroes, etc. are.
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PharmaStache

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2018, 07:33:05 PM »

Birthdays can also be a money pit, you are going to be invited to birthday parties that can easily cost $2k-3K, that are held in banquet halls, with catered food, DJ, photo booth, bouncy house, ect.  This can make it seem normal to spend that kind of cash for a child under 5 years old.  Trust me it's not.  You can do parties at you house or in the park which can cost well under $300 with a bit of prep-time and clean-up.


Uh I guess if you're used to $3000 birthday parties, $300 seems like a deal? 

From the ages of 2-5 the party was in our backyard ($0), spent maybe $20 max on food (hot dogs, homemade cake, some snacks, juice boxes), $10 on favours.

meerkat

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2018, 08:36:42 AM »

Birthdays can also be a money pit, you are going to be invited to birthday parties that can easily cost $2k-3K, that are held in banquet halls, with catered food, DJ, photo booth, bouncy house, ect.  This can make it seem normal to spend that kind of cash for a child under 5 years old.  Trust me it's not.  You can do parties at you house or in the park which can cost well under $300 with a bit of prep-time and clean-up.


Uh I guess if you're used to $3000 birthday parties, $300 seems like a deal? 

From the ages of 2-5 the party was in our backyard ($0), spent maybe $20 max on food (hot dogs, homemade cake, some snacks, juice boxes), $10 on favours.

There's a reason San Francisco is known for having crazy high living expenses. Getting a venue alone is probably pretty pricey and they might not have the space to host at home.

We've dodged that bullet by just not doing birthday parties yet. For the first birthday we rolled it into a family gathering and celebrated all the birthdays that month so there were two other relatives with birthdays, venue was free and food was paid for by grandma who was thrilled to death to host. Second birthday and third birthday have been small affairs at home with some grandparents and cupcakes. Next year (4) I think kiddo will actually have a better idea of what's going on so we'll do a party of some sort then, maybe at home or maybe at a local park.

Another cost savings thing was toys. I tried to be sure that the toys we got would be long lasting developmentally - blocks, dolls, play kitchen, etc. I even made a toy for free - an empty wipes container with a bunch of handkerchiefs and felt squares stuffed into it, plus sharpie-ing the outside for decoration. My kid rediscovered it this week and declared that it's a drum. I rotate out the toys he has and even though we haven't gotten a ton of toys at birthdays or Christmas it doesn't really matter because he enjoys what he has and doesn't get overwhelmed or bored by having everything out all the time.

-Toddlers do not need fancy pre-packaged toddler foods.  Say no to pouches, kids' branded snacks, etc.  Your grocery bill will thank you. 

We don't do the kid branded snack with two exceptions - the pouches we get occasionally as a bribe item (I even experimented with making our own but it wasn't worth it despite having reusable pouch containers) and whole fat dairy products, which seem to be exclusively a kid thing. We've been advised to do whole fat dairy products by our son's doctors, but I think for other kids it's fine to cut back on the fat after a certain age so by all means at that point let them have "adult"/non-kid products. Maybe they'll like greek yogurt instead of the over-sweetened, highly-branded kids stuff. It does pain me a little every time I buy the kid yogurts because they always seem to cost a lot more per ounce.
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kanga1622

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2018, 10:19:51 AM »
Buy good quality clothes at garage sales or clearance sales. Children's Place is a gold mine for shirts for my kids. My oldest wears a shirt for 1-2 years and then we stash it for a bit before the youngest wears it for 1-3 years. I usually pay less than $5 for their shirts so getting 2-4 years of wear is pretty dang good. Ask for clothes for Christmas/birthday gifts. My kids have come to expect and get excited about a new shirt or two showing up for gift giving occasions.

Keep the clothing to a reasonable amount. We keep a set number of each type of item so we don't get crazy. We have a limit of 10 long sleeve shirts, 10 shorts, 10 regular pants, 1 dress pants, and 15 short sleeve shirts. I keep a list so when I find shirts or shorts at garage sales, I know if we are still looking in that size/style. I keep all bottoms in the khaki/blue denim/black family so I can match tops. I buy ahead because my kids are slow growers and tend to get at least a year out of sizes once we hit the 2T and up sizes.

Garage sale toys and then resell when the kids outgrow them. And don't buy unless your kid is interested. Honestly, my 5 year old's favorite toy for the last year is a pocket hose. Yes, the As Seen On TV hose that crinkles into itself when not full of water. He makes booby traps, ties up himself and his brother, "locks" doors, fights "fires", and all kinds of other crazy things. We bought one to use to wash the car and it has never made it out of the house. The oldest makes up for this by wanting new Lego sets on a regular basis. Rotating toys also helps keep toys feeling fresh without having to buy new stuff all the time.

Use the library for most of your book needs. I certainly got tired of reading the same books over and over so a nice rotation from the library helped me a lot! :) Once they read on their own, we spent a lot more on books as my oldest likes to reread his favorites on a regular basis.

Limit TV and therefore advertising. Kids can't constantly ask for the latest and greatest toy if they haven't seen it.

We spent decent money on stainless steel lunchboxes and snack sized containers. They are still going strong and we use them constantly. The oldest piece is a lunchbox that is 7+ years old and looks basically brand new. No need to buy kid sized portions if you have an easy way to divide and transport your own snacks.

cacaoheart

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2018, 12:11:36 AM »

We don't do the kid branded snack with two exceptions - the pouches we get occasionally as a bribe item (I even experimented with making our own but it wasn't worth it despite having reusable pouch containers) and whole fat dairy products, which seem to be exclusively a kid thing.

Are you saying you can't find any whole milk yogurt in stores that isn't marketed to kids? I agree that most yogurt I see sold in singleserving size containers is either skim milk or for kids unless you're buying individual containers at whole foods, though I see a fair number of larger yogurt containers that are whole milk. Usually we just make our own with whatever whole milk we want. If you have an instant pot it's especially easy with the yogurt setting but we made it for years before that half a gallon at a time. A few minutes of work once every week or two.

Basically heat milk until it develops a skin on top, about 170F, then let it cool to 110F so it won't kill the yogurt culture.
Add a few tablespoons of plain yogurt, stir, then let it sit covered for ~6-12 hours at ~90-110F until it solidifies. An oven with the light on works well.
Once it hardens I place it in a half gallon Mason jar in the fridge.
Add fruit as desired but keep some plain for the next batch. After a few months if it stops hardening buy another plain yogurt and start again.
If you want Greek whole yogurt you can add a step of straining with cheese cloth but I rarely bother.

meerkat

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2018, 05:22:19 AM »

We don't do the kid branded snack with two exceptions - the pouches we get occasionally as a bribe item (I even experimented with making our own but it wasn't worth it despite having reusable pouch containers) and whole fat dairy products, which seem to be exclusively a kid thing.

Are you saying you can't find any whole milk yogurt in stores that isn't marketed to kids? I agree that most yogurt I see sold in singleserving size containers is either skim milk or for kids unless you're buying individual containers at whole foods, though I see a fair number of larger yogurt containers that are whole milk. Usually we just make our own with whatever whole milk we want. If you have an instant pot it's especially easy with the yogurt setting but we made it for years before that half a gallon at a time. A few minutes of work once every week or two.

Basically heat milk until it develops a skin on top, about 170F, then let it cool to 110F so it won't kill the yogurt culture.
Add a few tablespoons of plain yogurt, stir, then let it sit covered for ~6-12 hours at ~90-110F until it solidifies. An oven with the light on works well.
Once it hardens I place it in a half gallon Mason jar in the fridge.
Add fruit as desired but keep some plain for the next batch. After a few months if it stops hardening buy another plain yogurt and start again.
If you want Greek whole yogurt you can add a step of straining with cheese cloth but I rarely bother.

Yeah all the whole milk yogurts I see are marketed towards kids and for the most part have a lot of added sugar and/or are marked as ORGANIC and have a significant mark up even compared to the organic fat free yogurts because think of the children. I would like to try making yogurt at home sometime but I don't foresee us doing it as a regular thing. We usually consume yogurt at work as our breakfast which would mean dividing it up into a bunch of little containers and creating a bunch more dishes. I am not the person that does dishes in our house, the dish-doer has vetoed the idea and I don't care strongly enough to argue about it.
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LiveLean

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2018, 12:16:45 PM »
These years should cost little-to-nothing relatively speaking.

1. No daycare. Have one parent stay at home or find a way to arrange your schedules to make it work. That's what we did and we had zero help from grandparents.

2. Library. There's no need to buy books. Take them there often to establish a lifelong habit. Read to them one hour a day minimum from birth -- split it into two languages if one of you is bilingual.

3. Used clothes, gift clothes, etc. We had several neighbor families with older boys -- we only have boys -- who were forever giving us stuff. I bet we spent less than $700 on clothes for our boys from birth to 8 and that was probably mostly underwear and socks. (Shoes not included.)

4. Have them eat what you eat ASAP and provide no other choices. Do not go through that kid garbage food stage of chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and other processed crap unless you want finicky expensive eaters for the next 18 years.
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CindyBS

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Re: Tips on saving money on a toddler/preschooler
« Reply #12 on: Today at 11:19:55 AM »
Give gifts that are used until the child notices or is bothered.  We got a good 6 or so years out of that - all Christmas toys, etc. were used and for a few years child #2 got child #1's former toys as gifts until child #1 started getting suspicious.  Toys were is great shape, just not new in box.  Toys were acquired a thrift stores/ yard sales.

Have used clothing be the norm.   Accept all offers of used clothing that could possibly work.  Even if you use only 10% of what the person gives you, it is still free stuff and the extra can be donated or passed along.

Scour your library/city programs/museums, etc. for free or low cost activities.  Fill the calendar with those THEN consider activities that have a cost.

Pair up with another family or 2 and swap babysitting. 

Get the in the habit of doing cheap/free activities for the vast majority of activity - things like sidewalk chalk, coloring, play doh (homemade), going on a walk, visiting a playground, etc.