Frugal With Kids – 10 Things to Help Make Kids Cheaper

Frugal With Kids – 10 Things to Help Make Kids Cheaper

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I hear it nonstop. “Kids are expensive.” It gets very old. I’m not sure if it is more annoying from people who don’t have kids or people with older kids.

I have to hold my tongue because I could easily turn around and say, “your 4,000 square foot house with 2 people is expensive” or “your brand new $30k+ car is expensive.”

Everyone chooses to spend their money differently and that’s ok. What matters is spending with purpose and on things that bring value.

Which brings me to my next point…kids are expensive…oops

Don’t get me wrong, the top of my list of things I wanted during my life was to be a dad. That doesn’t change the fact that kids are going to add to the budget. I want to share some of the things we do to help our rugrats be less expensive.

Box coloring station

I’m not sure who created this one, if it was the wife or me out of pure laziness and boredom or our son being awesome. When you have kids you seem to have a lot of boxes. They make the best coloring stations. When Mini Donut was as tall as one of the boxes he would stand at it and color to his heart’s content. Now we break them down and make coloring mats.

Best part, when they fill up you grab a new one and recycle the old. We don’t even have to go and buy a new coloring book.

Garage sale toys

Mini Donut’s favorite toys are either hand me downs or from garage sales. Kids don’t get the high from buying stuff like adults do. They just get excited for something different.

MD loves to use his $2 vacuum while we are vacuuming the house or he pretends to mow the lawn with his $3 plastic lawnmower (on the driveway) when we are outside. (Now to keep that excitement when he is old enough to do it for real ?)

Thrift shop clothes

If you buy clothes at a regular retail you paid way too much. PJs for $2.50 each, shirts for $2. Hard to beat that at retail even with coupons!

Bring something next time to donate at Goodwill and you will get a coupon!

Others People’s Junk

Some may have read the tale of the Babies R Us stranger. That is rare but you can still find other people giving stuff away.

This trick I learned from my dad. People are willing to throw anything away.

Our neighbors had an old power wheels Jeep sitting at the end of their driveway for a few days (no sign and the trash haulers wouldn’t grab it). I went and asked what was going on with it. “Oh, nothing. Just thought it would go with the trash.” I asked, “anything wrong with it? Does it need a new battery?” “Nope, it works. Why? Do you want it?”

….uhhhh yeah! $250 saved!

My parents have picked up slides and playhouses much the same way.

Facebook Mom’s Group

Craigslist can get sketchy and sometimes downright scary (before you judge I sold my car on it) but there are Facebook groups you can join to sell your old kids stuff. You can get really nice stuff and people don’t seem to flake out as much.

Homemade Apple Sauce

Making your own foods can be much healthier, cheaper, and you can tailor it to your tastes.

5 from 2 votes

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce


  • 4 Large Honey crisp apples
  • 2 Tbsp fake lemon juice (or 1 real lemon)
  • 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Water


  1. Skin, core, and cut your apples into eighths. 

  2. Plop the pieces into your crockpot. 

  3. Add the juice from the lemon, and the water. 

  4. Pour in the vanilla, and add the cinnamon and brown sugar.

  5. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are super tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork.

Frozen Fruit

Any time MD is sick or teething we grab a mesh feeder (we got from a FB group), throw a frozen banana in and he goes crazy. Also, frozen grapes are a great summer treat on a hot day!

Old School Cloth Diapers

This one we got from Ms. Blue Ribbon’s friend at MD’s baby shower. Normal burp rags are tiny, expensive and not absorbent. Pick up a pack of the Gerber prefold cloth diapers and your life will be better.

MD spit up a lot when he was little and these rags were a Godsend. Now that he is older he uses them to wipe his nose. Our plan for them when he is done is use them for cleaning.

The Library

I can sort of understand buying books (I’d rather get the Kindle version from the library) but books about parenting aren’t something to buy. They go out of date quickly and you don’t need them very long before you need the next one in the next age bracket.

We also test out new children books from the library before we buy them. We have avoided many duds this way.

Free Activities

Ms. Blue Ribbon loved talking MD to story time when she was staying at home. They would also do things like Early Childhood Family Education. I’m not sure if this is available in all areas but is in Minnesota.

The best resource for free events is your community calendar. We have done the Fire Station open house ??????!!!!! The community works department also did an open house where kids could do activities, see the equipment and go on rides.

Coming up is an event where they give out kites, have games and even plan on a ?! MD loves Fire Trucks!


What do you do to stay frugal with kids? Have you tried anything on my list or plan to?

20 thoughts on “Frugal With Kids – 10 Things to Help Make Kids Cheaper

  1. I love the applesauce and frozen fruit ideas! I haven’t thought about those, but what great ways to save (I am ALWAYS buying applesauce!).

    Also- isn’t it amazing how much you can save buying used clothes/toys/gadgets/etc. We have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars this way.

    1. Sometimes MD will nom on frozen bananas for almost an hour. It’s crazy how much he loves it.
      I wish we would have tracked all the money we have saved so far by buying used. Perhaps a bit extreme…?

  2. These are so awesome! I love seeing what kinds of free activities there are around town–a lot of them are for kiddos. The library in particular hosts quite a few free educational events that kids would love. 🙂

  3. This are awesome – I don’t have kids yet, but I’m gonna be aiming to avoid this “are expensive” thing everyone’s totting.

    There’s also Buy Nothing Project groups that are excellent for gifting / receiving gifts! Two tubs of girls clothing and two baby bottle sanitizers were recently gifted in my group.

  4. They get even more expensive in their 20s. Now if I can just figure out how to do the literal of this post title – “make my kid cheaper”. She’s spending quite a bit through college. Just one more year left on the parents’ dollar though! 🙂

  5. My in-laws have the near exact recipe except no lemons and maybe some brown sugar with shaved ice.

    I know kids are expensive but aren’t they cute?! And you get to play with their toys…I wanna baby sometimes..

    *LOL* I’m scrolling down… recipe rating?!?!!?

  6. Great list.

    We’re heading to the library this morning to go fishing. Yes, fishing. Ours loans out rods and a license! We’re there every week taking out movies (we don’t have cable/netflix/anything) and books.

    Friday nights, you’ll find us at the local hall for free rollar skating (the rink, shoes, live music, everything is free).


  7. Great ideas. I like your garage sale idea. Kids like change not the item.
    We do the following to keep it frugal:
    Local bookstore has a storytime, also with discount on the book of the week
    Farmers market usually has entertainment and often has children days during the summer.
    Library books are stained and have a greasy film, my wife wont allow them in the kids bedroom. Fomites

    1. Oh my son gets excited to go to the “outside grocery store” (farmers market) ?
      All we have is a B&N bookstore but I guess I should see if they have story times we could make it to.
      Thanks for the ideas!

  8. Completely agree on the burping cloths vs. cloth diapers. Plus, cloth diapers make great cleaning rags when you don’t need them for the kids anymore.

    Parents can ditch the “baby food makers.” All you need is a blender or food processor!

    Thanks for the applesauce recipe. I must try it!

  9. Having kids doesn’t have to be overly expensive, unless you want it to be.

    We get a lot of stuff for free or really cheap off of the mommy groups on Facebook. A couple of years ago my son really wanted one of those power wheels (a Cadillac SUV), and instead of spending upwards of $400 or so, we found one for less than $100 on a Facebook for sale group.

  10. The box coloring station is GENIOUS. My daughter is only 10 days old at the time of writing this but I am definitely committing that one to memory. Game changer!

    1. Haha thanks. That one comes in handy visiting family too. Everyone seems to have crayons but nothing but printer paper to draw on. Printer paper likes to slip around and makes it hard to draw on.

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