Save money on your kids - MoneySense

Save money on your kids

For some mommies and daddies, kids are an excuse to go shopping


The title today is a little misleading, I’ll admit it right now. Here’s what I really want to say: “Don’t use your kids as an excuse to go shopping. Wise up and save.” But it’s too long.

I’m amazed at what parents will spend on babies and young children without ever acknowledging that the kid doesn’t care. It’s the parents who are getting their rocks off on designer clothes, designer strollers and designer diaper bags. I’ve seen smart parents who know a wee one doesn’t need a dozen pairs of shoes or a half-dozen different jackets. But I’ve seen many more parents who use their Mini-Me’s as an excuse to go shopping.

Here are 7 places to cut back because your kid, to be perfectly frank, doesn’t care. Nor will he remember.

1. Skip the fancy birthday parties for one, two and three-year olds

Parents who throw lavish birthday parties they can barely afford are crazy. Parents who do it for babies and toddlers are stupid. Or they’re lying to themselves. They want to have a party and Junior’s birthday is just the right occasion.

2. Don’t fill boodle bags with stuff to impress

The need to out-do sometimes overtakes common sense. I don’t even like the idea of boodle bags. At my kids’ birthday parties, we played games and every child won a prize. More fun. Less junk.

3. Don’t use your kid as an excuse to go to Disney World

I asked my daughter Alex if she remembered going to Disney World. She was four at the time. She said no. Oh well, lesson learned. If I take grandchildren on a vacation, it’ll be when they can remember all the fun they had that cost 10 times as much as if we’d stayed home.

4. Avoid over-programming your kids

In the rush to build a better kid, parents enroll them in extra curricular activities that burn them out before they get to middle school.

5. Don’t overdo the electronics

Sure your kid wants all the latest toys. But I can’t believe TVs in kids’ bedrooms are anything more than tired parents’ desperate attempts to carve out a nap. Get your kids used to being early adopters of new technology and you’re going to have a pretty hard time pulling back when the stuff they want gets really expensive.

6. Start a clothing swap

In the earliest years, kids outgrow their clothes long before they use ‘em up. Starting a clothing swap with parents who have different-aged kids means you can switch out your gently-used stuff for the next size up for no money outlay. If this doesn’t work because you don’t have any friends, head to a consignment shop, sell your stuff and buy for less.

7. Potty train

Man, can you believe how expensive diapers are? When my kids were little, I bought diapers only when they were on sale and stacked them up the wall. But many young parents or those who have limited living space, can’t afford to stock up. Or they worry about their kids moving up a size and getting stuck with diapers they can’t use (but could swap at their clothing swap). The best solution is to toilet train as soon as your kiddo is ready. Yes this comes at different times for different kids, but if your sweet princess is still in diapers at 3, it may be more your reluctance than their immaturity.