Tuesday, September 1, 2015

5 easy ways to save money on kids

Being only 14 months into this parenting malarkey I am still but a mere novice. However, we're also pretty stingy with our cash here in the Cake household, so we've already worked out a few ways of pinching pennies. Since this week's focus is on scrimping and saving I thought I'd share my best tips - I hope they'll help you out.

If you're a bit further through I'd love if you share your tips, too - we're definitely still looking for ways to improve our game!

1. Work out what's important to you
We taught him the importance of our
family priorities at a young age.
There's no right formula for exactly what you need for your kids, but if you start by identifying what's important for your specific family you can rationalise, and spend less on stuff (and activities) that you don't care so much about. Example: we really wanted to have the flexibility to go running with our kid, so we forked out an extra few hundred dollars for a running stroller. We're glad we spent that extra money but it wouldn't make sense for non-runners. We didn't buy it new, either, which brings me to...

2. Check secondhand first
I can't emphasise this enough. Kids grow fast. Trademe is awash with clothes, toys and other gear that has barely been used. As well as saving a heap of money, you'll be helping somebody declutter their house and reducing waste. Winning!
(note: for safety reasons it's recommended to buy cot mattresses and car seats new)

3. Plan ahead
This is true for spending on just about anything. Sometimes it's not possible, but mostly you know what you'll need ahead of time. Watch for sales or put a saved search on Trademe and pounce when you see a bargain. I quite like Marks & Spencer clothing for the small person, and the seasonal split makes it even better; they're always having summer clearance sales just as the season is approaching here.

4. Ignore "must-have" lists...
Toys, pffft, I've got pegs!
... Especially if they're published by people selling stuff (hint: they usually are). There's not much you actually need specifically for kids. Clothes (and nappies), bedding, food... Pretty much everything after that is optional. I have a bunch of things I wouldn't want to be without because they make life easier, but you can usually work that out as you go. Stuff we skipped completely that most lists say is essential: change table, baby bath, bassinet, nursing pillow, infant bowls and spoons. That stuff might be more important to you - see #1 - but for us it didn't matter so we just skipped it. I don't think we've scarred the kid (yet).

5. Share stuff
Who wants to join my commune? There's no religion involved and definitely no Kool-aid, just a good old-fashioned community of sharing. Okay, maybe that's a bit extreme (idyllic as it sounds in the abstract) but sharing stuff is both practical and nice. We borrowed a capsule car seat from friends for a few weeks when the Little Monkey was very small; another friend borrowed our Ergobaby infant insert. This works especially well for newborn stuff, since it's generally needed for such a short time, but toy libraries work on a similar principle (though there is a small cost involved there).

So tell me - what tips do you have for saving money on kids? Were there any "must have" items that you skipped?


  1. Cardboard boxes - small people can get a lot of fun out of a cardboard box - the bigger the better! I seem to remember the only TV set we had, when you were little, was one you made from a box.

  2. An older reader in USA, Atlanta GA, where the Kiwis are having a 'real' hangi next weekend, also was going to
    suggest wrapped empty boxes at Christmas for the little one. There is more fun to be had ripping paper off
    boxes than any contents can bring to someone under 2-3. Look for bargain children's books at OP shops, yard sales, or public library clear-out days. You cannot have too many books around for brief spurts of entertainment
    and early reading literacy.

  3. Fantastic, empty cardboard boxes all around! Little Monkey is a big fan of any kind of box so sounds very wise. Good tip on the secondhand books, too, and I guess it's easier to relax about enthusiastic little fingers unintentionally causing damage on pre-loved ones!

  4. I've also found Marks & Spencer's pretty great for buying baby things, especially if you spend enough to qualify for free shipping. I bought some baby bottles off their website and they were cheaper than I could get anywhere in NZ. Baby food jars is a massive expense I'd like to cut down on, but I gave up making meat and veg purees at home because baby would spit them out 80% of the time!

    1. Oh yes - we found Amazon were good for bottles and so on too, though that might not be so good now with the less favourable exchange rate. We did baby led weaning so avoided the food in jars thing - really it's just the laziest option going (though can be rather messy) but it did allow us to avoid buying separate food. :-)


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