Why Simplifying is the Best Way to Save on Kids Costs (Part I)

by Ashley Eneriz · 7 comments

I hear it over and over again: kids are so expensive.

Yes, they are — but I don’t think they’re quite as expensive as the studies and surveys say. Even though I hate to admit it, I know I often make my child more expensive than she has to be. If many of us parents were to take a good, hard look at what we’re spending on our kids, we’d find that many of the expenses are our own doing.

Thankfully, the answer to cheaper kids is simple: simplify. It’s not always the easiest thing to do — and feelings may get hurt in the process — but simplifying is better for your budget and your family.

Here are a few areas you can start simplifying right away: 

Kids Parties

Let’s start with our kids’ birthday parties. How much do you spend each year to throw your child some over the top, Pinterest-inspired party? A lot of my friends are celebrating their first child’s first birthday, and it’s ridiculous how much money they’re spending. Does a one-year-old really need a themed party with designer cupcakes and cookies?

This isn’t just a one-year-old thing either. Many parents are splurging on their children’s birthday parties at every age. Don’t get me wrong: you should make a big deal out of your child’s birthday. It’s such a special day, but you can still keep it under $100. You just have to simplify.

A bunch of tween girls would be thrilled to be given a basket of beauty supplies, a teen movie, and some junk food for a sleepover party. No need to make matching sleeping bags for all the girls, or hire someone to give them beauty treatments. Similarly, every young boy you know would love to have an all-out water balloon battle and slide down the yard on a homemade water slide (aka tarp, soap, and water). They don’t need all of the Avenger-themed party supplies to make fun memories happen.

My point is to simplify the stuff, but maximize the fun and memories. (Usually they’re the best — and least expensive — part!)

Kids Wardrobes

How many outfits does a child need? My own two-year-old has over 30 in her closet, and that is three times too much. Granted, they’re all hand-me downs, but she really only needs about 10 outfits. We live in Southern California, so we can get by with one light coat and one heavy coat. But even if you do live in a place with hot summers and freezing winters, you can still save money by simplifying your child’s wardrobe to about 10 outfits for each season.

Not only will this save you money on how much you spend at the department store, but it will save you time and money in other areas, too. Hopefully with a smaller wardrobe for your children, you’ll spend less money and time laundering clothes. (I know I’m not the only mother out there who’s washed already cleaned clothes because they were left on the floor!) A smaller wardrobe can also mean less stress when getting dressed in the morning, since there are fewer choices.

Those are the first two ways to simplify your kids’ expenses. Come back next week for three more ideas!

Let’s talk about kids birthday parties. They an be a sore subject for some. Do you go all out for your child’s birthday, or are you a simple party person?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Kate says:

    Most babies are over the moon when given a tin pan and a spoon, a stack of Tupperware containers, and one of those cardboard tubes that comes inside the paper towels. Children don’t need organized games or “LOOT bags” (awful name!) either; the aforesaid cardboard tubes will keep them entertained for hours. We had a great time at an 8 year old’s party giving each child a toy telephone and telling him to make up a voice mail message for a superhero’s telephone. My favourite: “Superman can’t come to the phone right now. Please hang up and save yourself!”

  • Marcia@Frugal Healthy Simple says:

    Our older son’s first birthday party we didn’t have a party. Because, why? We had our best friends and their son over for dinner.

    Our second son (6 years younger), by then we’d been exposed to the big party thing (age two to 7 seem to be the worst). So, we very carefully planned our trip across country to visit family (every two years) to fall on his birthday. So we had a birthday “party” with my husband’s family. And avoided the party at home.

    I’m happy to attend 2-6 parties for his little friends, I just don’t want to throw one. And, we didn’t do anything for his second birthday either. Brought a cake to the park where we have a standing potluck with our neighborhood.

  • caroline says:

    I think the notion of going wild on a first birthday is counter-intuitive! Babies really do not know what’s going on, so whilst it’s just lovely to have a few fun gifts, a nice cake and some suitable goodies / balloons, really, that’s about the extent of it! I’m just about to do a 1st birthday for my 3rd child and no one could adore a baby more than we adore him, but we got *very gently* used cool fisher price toys at 1/2 price, wrapped them in sheets of tissue (he LOVES tearing off paper and scrunching it – I think a lot of babies do) and are planning a very simple birthday tea at home. The older kids can just play together and with the birthday boy, the adults can socialise over cake and bubbly and that will be that. There are so many years to do more elaborate things…

    • Ashley Eneriz says:


      That sounds like such a great idea! And yay to used toys. I am a sucker for them!

      • Caroline says:

        The little ones use them for such a short time, and rarely, if ever, do they get badly broken (which cannot be said for toys in the 2-4 range!), and in South Africa, where I live, all these things are imported and hideously expensive new, completely prohibitive actually… and for what? A toy that may well be well-liked and played with… for… ooohh… 2 months, maybe?

        I am all for keeping it simple and cheap when they’re small especially, they don’t know the difference and wouldn’t care if they did, I mean, cake?? How cool is that stuff!?

  • Ashley Eneriz says:


    That does sound like a blast. I am so happy you were able to do it under $100 t00 – woo-hoo. Oh and nothing against Pinterest – I love the site and have saved a lot of money and time with it 🙂

  • Julie says:

    We just threw a birthday party for our 1 year old. It was, admittedly, Pinterest-inspired, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t spend over $100 on it. We hand made some decorations and borrowed some supplies we needed (Cornhole, Ladder Ball, for the older kids). We served a light dinner and made our own cupcakes. We didn’t provide the obligatory “goodie bags”, nor did we have scripted games or activities. We simply put out lawn and driveway games, and all the kids played and had a blast. Kids don’t need a lot to be happy. They just need each other and a great imagination.

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