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

by Ashley Eneriz · 9 comments

Last week, I talked about cutting down on kids costs by simplifying kids parties and wardrobes.

Today, I’m going to share three more ways to simplify. It won’t be easy, but I’ve found that the more I simplified areas in my life (from the kitchen to my daughter’s bedroom), the more time and money I had. Not only that, but that feeling of being weighed down started to melt away.

3 More Ways to Cut Down on Kids Costs

1. Baby supplies & gear

You can always identify the home of a new parent because it looks like Babies”R”Us threw up all over the living room. When my daughter was an infant, I remember feeling overwhelmed and buried by all the baby stuff we had. Family members urged me to buy this or that, or told me to hang on to items for the next baby.

Thankfully, I didn’t listen. As soon as my little one outgrew something, it was listed on Craigslist. The more baby stuff I got rid of, the freer I felt. Now that I’m expecting my second child, we’ll see how it goes this time around. I definitely want just the essentials.

I’ve read articles about what to buy and what not to buy for a baby, and I’ve even written a few myself. However, for every parent, there are “must-have” items they can live without. I’d recommending ignoring those articles, and by the time the second or third child comes around, you’ll know what you need and don’t need. I buy my baby gear used and sell it for cost or profit, which enables me to feel no guilt about getting rid of it.

2. Kids activities

We all know a few people who have their children enrolled in a multitude of activities. I wonder how they can keep up with everything their kid is doing — from soccer this day, to dance another day, to art class and church activities yet another day. Talk about exhausting, not to mention pricey!

A dance class may cost $45 for one session, but then you have to buy all the outfits and tickets for the performances. By the end of  the season, your total could come to $200 for one session. Now, take that cost and multiple it by more than one child and more than one activity. It adds up quickly.

My advice is to simplify your kids’ extra activities. For some families, this may mean that every child does the same activity for one session (i.e. a karate class that everyone can be in at one time). For other families, it may just mean having one activity per child per season.

3. Kids toys

You can’t talk about simplifying kids costs without hitting on the sore subject of toys. I read “Little House on the Prairie” a few years back, and I was surprised by how few toys they had. Laura and Mary played with a blown up pig’s bladder for a whole day, for crying out loud!

I stay home all day, all year long with my little one, so I know how essential toys are for sanity’s sake. I also think it’s easy to overdo it in the toy arena, and I’m constantly weeding through toys to make sure our collection doesn’t grow too large.

Three ways I’ve simplified the toy issue and saved a lot of money are:

  • No toys for gifts: This may change when my daughter is older, but so far, she already receives so many gifts for her birthday and Christmas. As she grows older, we’re going to concentrate on taking her somewhere special and fun rather than wrapping up toys.
  • Buy used and sell often: Have you figured out by now that I love to buy used items? We have many quality toys in our home, and most were purchased for 70-90% less than retail price. Once a toy loses its special appeal, I try to sell it quickly for a profit. This worked very well for baby toys, especially the musical ones.
  • Toy rotation: At one point, the toys in my home seemed to take over. I spent several hours organizing them by group (Legos in one box, Play-Doh in another, etc.). This helped tremendously because now all the toys are easily accessible, quick to clean up, and able to be rotated. For my daughter, every day of play looks different, because I usually only take out one toy category at a time. A side note: this has also helped increase her attention span. If one box of toys is out, she’ll sit and play for 20-30 minutes. If I pull out several toy options, she’s all over the place with limited focus.

Let me end this article by saying: I am a real mom. I have the same urges to buy my daughter a full wardrobe when I see a Carter’s sale, pick up a new toy when we go to Target, or sign her up for many classes because it would be fun (and because a break would be nice). I definitely struggle with these kid temptations, too, and I constantly have to remind myself that simple is best.

How have you simplified and saved on children costs?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Joe says:

    Our kid’s favorite activity is to go run around outside or play at the playground. We don’t buy a lot of toys and that’s fine with him. He gets plenty of toys from relatives already.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      I doubt any American kid has not enough toys. One bday party and the kid literally gets more toys than he/she can actually play for the rest of childhood!!

    • Ashley Eneriz says:

      Awesome to hear! I know I have so many memories of playing outside as a kid rather than what toy I actually played with.

  • Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income says:

    Kids enjoy the simple things in life its only when adults introduce them to iPads and other toys that kids start playing with bigger things. Everyone knows the story of when you give your kids presents they open the present take out the toy and play with the box. Simplicity is the secret to life for adults and children. We think more and more will make us happy. Stuff doesn’t make you happy, you just move on to the next thing and want more.

    We trade toys with cousins or even shop at thrift shops. Our daughter doesn’t care at this age. She has her favorites and loves them. Now if I can only get grandma and grandpa on board!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Simplicity IS the secret. I bet if the parents practice that regularly, their kids will learn the trick too.

    • Ashley Eneriz says:

      Amen! I was asked why we don’t have an iPad by some family members. I simply said that I didn’t want to spend too much time on it and that I didn’t want my two year old to play on it. My sister-in-law gasped and said, “There are just so many educational apps on it. It can really help her learn and develop” – And yet even without an iPad she knew all her colors and capital and lower case letters by 18-19 months.

  • Kirsten @ Indebted and In Debt says:

    I have read other moms who say the same thing – the fewer toys available, the greater the attention span. Buying more toys doesn’t necessary mean your child will be easier to keep busy – and then you also have more mess!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Toys and TV can really destroy a child’s ability to focus.
      Our first daughter can sit there and draw all day because we never let her watch TV until about the age of 4. But my second one, because of all the toys in the house, and also because he would catch a glimpse of the entertainment when big sister was having a party, can’t sit still for 5 seconds!

    • Ashley Eneriz says:

      It is so true! People are always commenting on my daughter’s attention span at two. I guess I should start telling them that my secret is that I am just too cheap to buy toys haha 😉

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