Country Living Series

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"I'm your child! How can you spare any expense?"

I came across a link to an article published six years ago in the Washington Post entitled Three Kids? You Showoff! Written by Pamela Paul, it discusses the shocking decision a young couple made to have three children, rather than the obligatory maximum of two (by New York City standards).

One of the things I found fascinating in this article is the tangential glimpse of what life is like in large cities. My understanding is that space is often so tight that three children could, indeed, prove to be a hardship (unless you're wealthy enough to afford a spacious townhouse or something).

But it was the implications about the cost associated with child-raising that I found to be such an interesting contrast to the reality of raising kids on a budget. The author writes, "What shocks people, when we tell them, isn't the thought of hauling three kids onto a place for a vacation, or even the idea of coming home every night to a houseful of runny noses and homework assignments. What gets them is the sheer financial audacity. Raising kids today costs a fortune. Last month, the Department of Agriculture estimated that each American child costs an average of $204,060 to house, clothe, educate and entertain until the age of 18."

Amortized over 18 years, this comes to $11,336 per child. Not in anyone's wildest dreams does the average American spend over $11,000 per year per child. (When this figure first came out, my husband did some investigation and learned that the bulk of that figure includes one's mortgage. In other words, for a family of four, one-fourth of the mortgage costs are "assigned" to the child as the cost of raising him. Unrealistic, in my opinion.)

"There's no question that it takes a lot more money to bring up baby nowadays," writes the author. "Many parents would scoff at the Agriculture Department's humble figures. When you get into the nitty-gritty, the price of kids feels more like a million dollars a pop."

Um, no.

Apparently in some places, children have become visible displays of walking wealth. The author writes, "In many major U.S. cities and their suburbs -- especially New York, where I live -- having three or more children has now come to seem like an ostentatious display of good fortune, akin to owning a pied-à-terre in Paris. The family of five has become 'deluxe.' Last year, novelist Molly Jong-Fast mused in the New York Observer, 'Are people having four or five children just because they can? Because they feel that it shows their wealth and status? In a world where the young rich use their $13,000 Birkin bags as diaper bags, one has to wonder.'"

(Anyone here own a $13,000 Birkin bag, whatever that is? Anyone? Hellooo?)

When our girls were young, Don and I were living so far below the poverty level that we were scraping bottom. We were desperately trying to get our woodcraft business viable, and all expenses were examined with a microscope. We squeezed every dollar til it shrieked. We had no choice, unless we wanted to return to the nine-to-five nightmare we'd worked so hard to escape.

We had our children at this juncture because, as a friend so wisely advised, if we waited until we could afford to have kids, we'd never have kids. We were well into our 30s by this point and couldn't wait forever to start our family.

As a result, frugality became the norm in our household, and we've managed to raise our girls up with the love, laughter, and discipline (rather than material excess) that we feel every child needs. We've cultivated their gifts in music, art, and reading. More importantly, we've cultivated their minds and spirits toward a high work ethic, distaste for government charity, a knowledge of their American heritage, and a love of God.

Find that in the aisles of Toys R Us.

But the modern parents this author discusses are crushed by guilt unless they raise their child "right." "And the pressure to do that," notes the author, "even if you're not uber-wealthy, has become overwhelming. From the moment the heartbeat blinks across the sonogram screen, Big Baby starts in with its pleading and conniving: I'm your child! How can you spare any expense? Don't you care?

"For a couple's every conceivable wish or worry, the parenting industry knows the precise formula of guilt, fear, hope, love and desire that will empty the parental wallet," notes Ms. Paul. "Rather than fret about spending too much money, most parents these days are consumed by the anxiety of underspending -- the fear that somewhere, some other parent is offering her baby an educational toy or child-development class that will propel the toddler ahead, and that if you skimp, your child risks losing out and falling behind."

Later in the article, Ms. Paul sensibly points out how Benjamin Franklin didn't have "his vision enhanced by a Stim-Mobile or his sense of spatial relations improved by Baby Einstein Numbers." She points out how the average American child gets "an average of 70 new toys a year yet child development experts agree that the best toys are simple playthings such as blocks, balls and figurines that a child can play with over and over, in new ways."

Seventy new toys a year???!!! On what planet? Our girls were lucky to get toys at Christmas and birthdays. Period. And many of those were homemade or second-hand.

I always find articles like this to be fascinating since it offers a glimpse into a land of spending I've seldom seen. Are these types of parents so caught up in status that they'd never darken the door of thrift stores or even (gasp!) utter the immortal word "No" when their child asked for a toy?

One of the families I admire the most has six children ranging from eight months to 14 years, all crammed into a modest home and all supported by a father's modest salary. (And when I say modest, I mean modest.) Around here, this family is not unusual for the standards by which they raise their large numbers of children.

Whose children do you think are more pleasant? The children who grow up sharing toys, books, rooms, love, fights, and adventures? Or the children who grow up showered with toys, electronics, and the undivided attention of a nanny but not a parent?

It's not expensive to raise children. And to my way of thinking, raising children in modest circumstances (within reason, of course) is healthier than raising them in luxury.

(Seventy toys a year? Sorry, can't get over that.)

"Between diapers and bouncy seats," reports Ms. Paul, "parents can count on spending at least $6,500 on the first year of baby gear alone. 'You walk into Babies R Us, and you're just overwhelmed,' recalls Brooke Houghton, a 35-year-old mom from Chicago who said she ran out of the store in panic after 15 minutes. 'There was just so much equipment I hadn't even considered.'"

It's been a long time since we've been new parents, and at the time our kids were born it wasn't an option to raise them "luxuriously." It wasn't hard to resist the lure of the "parenting industry." We simply couldn't afford it. Yet I think our kids turned out okay.

So tell me -- any parents of younger children out there -- how do YOU resist the "parenting industry"? And is it hard?


  1. I have an eighteen year old, like you. Every piece of equipment I bought, except the car seat was used. My father in law bought us a new crib. Every other thing we had, including clothes was used.

  2. My daughter and her hubby (a pastor of a small country church) are doing a great job raising their children on a very modest salary. They make a budget and stick to it. Kids are doing great of course, you never miss what you never have. Big thing is that my daughter, the mom, is home with the children. It's evident when you see the children. Not perfect, but well adjusted and developing well. Of course, if others knew what their income was they would say "she NEEDS to work." But using discipline, a budget and the word NO they are making happen. I am so happy they are raising my grandchildren!!

  3. The "parenting industry" did not exist when we were raising our children, the youngest of whom is in her late 20's. Since it wasn't necessary then, I don't consider input from it to be important in the raising of our grandchildren, & thankfully, neither do their parents. They raise their children the way we raised them, with home grown food,& lots of love &hand-me-downs.

    1. My adult children range in age from late 30's to early 20's. Consumerism was escalating quite nicely during that time period. My kids weren't raised that way, and they aren't raising their kids that way either.

      I do not see a difference between the time periods. Consumerism was in its infancy by the 1860's, but it was not uncommon that the women in the Confederacy purchased ready made goods rather than make them. (No slur to the Confederacy, just facts) During the war 1861-1865, Proctor and Gamble gave out soap samples to the troops, who brought it home. The homemade soap lost favor. What is the difference between a music box with changeable songs, a gramophone, record player, or an MP3 player? Same thing, but different time periods. Or fads "then" and "now"? The stuff changes, but the motivation is the same.

      The only difference between "then" and "now," is the amount of disposable income and the cost of items. At some point, more than a few of us will understand what is means to do without. Indulging Jr. won't be popular out of default.

  4. All that guilt and expense but I bet you don't see one little mention of staying in a marriage for the kids sake do you?

  5. Hi Patrice, I'm a mother of 3 girls....8, 23 months and 4 months....I know my husband and I are "unusual" but we do not feel ANY pressure to buy new, buy often, or say yes to everything. Our third girl (a wonderful joy to our hearts) literally costs us nothing on a weekly or monthly basis. Cloth diapers, LOTS of hand me down clothes and toys and I breast feed. We don't have TV, which is HUGE in stopping the perpetual "please mommy I want that" from our 8 year old. We started homeschooling this year and its really made a big difference in lunch food expenses. We have always sent her with a home packed lunch, but now I make a little extra at dinner and we have left overs each day...thus reducing our spending. I know we aren't "normal" and we like it that way. Now I will day my 8 year old is bright and can obviously see what other kids have....she asks us why we don't have a Wii or pool....we tell her we have bigger goals than that.

    But I'm pretty obstreperous, so I don't bow to the marketing ploys. :)

  6. Mine only range from 4yo-10yo. But we just flat out couldn't afford much stuff for them, nor could I justify the expense. I had friends creating beautiful nurseries (which, ahem, have since been redone since 10yo's aren't as into Mother Goose or giraffes as they used to be), I was happy to finally get old repurposed blue curtains up in the boy room. Only after ten years are we purchasing new (assemble yourself) dressers because the children's clothing is outgrowing the 40-60yo dressers that are starting to fall apart. Yes, each child has a single dresser for *all* their clothing, I can't fit many size 14 pants and shirts in a little 3-drawer dresser like I could when they were size 2T.

    When my older two were preschool aged, we priced out preschool. Not really for the school aspect (since we had decided to homeschool), but to give me a break because by that time we tended to have another new baby. We couldn't afford it. It was a choice between paying our power *and* landline *and* water bills each month, or pay for preschool. We chose to keep the lights on. We couldn't afford beds for several years when the kids were young, so they co-slept together on a mattress in the kid room (oh yeah, we have four children sharing a bedroom in a crazy bunk bed setup). We got creative and tried to plan ahead once we figured out what we were aiming for.

    Not everybody's into the spend more, more more! mindset, but I can totally get why some get caught up in it. It's like Keeping up with the Jones', junior style. I still shake my head at peewee football... 5yo kids are more like a herd of cats on a football field than anything, I don't need to pay a dime to let them do that at the nearby playground or in the backyard.

    The one thing we did "splurge" on was carseats though. That has changed over the years - an accident at 45mph on a country road is different than an accident at 75mph on the freeway, so we didn't do the absolute cheapest option there and went with what we felt was safest (5-point harness to about 7-8yo). Because we live by a major highway and near a busy enough freeway and there's no public transit to speak of, we're in the car enough that it could be a big deal.

  7. 70 toys a year??!!! I had 2 toys my entire childhood!! We played not with toys but each other.We had neighborhood walnut fights at the creek,(it hurt too)we fished for crawdads and played cowboys and injuns,and built forts,and got our asses busted when we got caught doing the wrong thing.I feel sad for todays kids.We had what they don't. FREEDOM.

  8. I remember well the joy I felt when I found out I was expecting baby number three. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach when I was repeatedly met with looks of horror, questions about whether or not I knew what caused pregnancy, and remarks about how we would never get ahead financially if I kept having babies. My MIL even got in on it, despite having voiced her own pain about the rude and insensitive comments regarding her third pregnancy.
    I was blessed with four children and they are worth far more than money in the bank.

  9. I am smiling as I tended my twin babies yesterday for a friend. She had so many gadgets and gizmos I was overwhelmed. I planned to share with her how to make home made baby food as she buys the jars. She had no idea how simple it was AND how much better it is for the children.

    Oh and the many. Two babies, 7 months old, had a two diaper changing stations, two playpens, two high chairs, to baby walkers that are stationary with tons of attached toys, two seats that rest on the counter to feed them, and on and on and on.

    I had my four kids before my husband was accepted in the police academy. He knew he wanted to be a law enforcement officer but was too young when we married to be admitted(we were 20 and he needed to be 21). He first entered the Army while we had our kiddos. We have raised our family on a shoestring that at times was frayed and knotted. The kids are now 18, 20, 21, and 24~all homeschooled. The oldest~now a deputy sheriff after serving in military in Afghan, second is a fireman in the city nearby. Third son is ER tech while taking medical courses, and fourth is taking on line classes tending full time to the twins I mentioned.

    Money did not produce 4 productive, functional members of society. We placed God first in our lives, then family. How silly kids are still treated like children late in their 20's. What has happened?

    The complete flipping of children no longer being as much members of the family and instead are now extensions of ones wealth and bling. Look at how I dress my baby in Baby Gap. "Look at how my child is in dance, soccer, archery, and violin and he is only 4! " I am overwhelmed listening to how much mom's place on the children of today...just to keep up.

    Crazy this world we are in!

  10. We are blessed with 6 amazing kiddos from 9mths to 18yrs. We make great use of and craigslist. We strive to be frugal and it has really blessed us. It is sometimes weird explaining to a parent that we don't have xboxs or wiis, we only have board games...the look on their faces is priceless. We enjoy your blog, thank you!

  11. I don't think I had 70 toys during my entire childhood. I'm 41, and got to see all the commercials for the latest, greatest toys. When I was growing up, my dad worked and mom worked at home, not only raising her kids but pretty much everyone else's kids in the area, too. We had toys, but not an overabundance of them. There were a few that I wanted but never got, but I certainly didn't feel deprived. I like to joke that when we were kids we got to play with dirt, and if we were lucky it rained and we got mud. Kids today just roll their eyes at me when I extoll the great joys of playing in mud. Little do they know how much fun it really is. Guess there's not an app for that.

    What we DID have, however, was far better: Books! Thank God I grew up in a family where all four of us loved to read. Many nights would find us yes, with the TV on, but it was only background noise while we were all reading. Even when I was little, I recognized how wonderful this was. As a kid, my book collection was considered a treasure, and I read them all over and over again. My brother was five years older, and it was a real treat when he would let me rummage through his big box of books for something really good to read. When he passed away, his beat-up copies of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" became priceless to me, because I knew how much they meant to him. Too many kids today have never opened a book, and I find that terribly sad.

    Remembering a childhood should be about meaningful things, not about how much money mom and dad spent.

  12. "...children have become visible displays of walking wealth."


    I haven't even finished reading the whole post yet, or the comments. That phrase says it all.

    Just Me

  13. The cost of raising a child to age 18 actually has gone up a lot since that article has come out, if you google it you can find the new numbers and it seems baffling to me. But the cost per child can well exceed $10,000 a year in places like NYC because often in places like that both parents have to work in order to live there and daycare there can often cost over $2000 a month per child and that expense is taken into account as well. Even where I live in southern Idaho if I were to put my daughter in a reputable licensed daycare it would run around $50 a day, so around $250 for a work week and around $1000 each month. Which in places like Idaho with low pay scales, literally its not worth it for me to work since after taxes, daycare, and fuel costs I'd make around $5-10 a day.

  14. I agree with what you have written but would like to comment on what you did not write. That is there are indeed too many families where the parents are not raising their children and the children are little more then a ticket to welfare usually to support the parents drug habit. In these families the fewer the children born the better for the children, the parents and society. Also I know good families; good parents where the parents seek and accept welfare. They do take good care of their children but still had too many children and cannot support them. One could argue that they need help so they should be helped but their need was self inflicted in a very selfish way. If you have children then take care of them and support them.

    A grandparent and great grandparent who has to constantly support his grandchildren and even take them into his home because their parents keep failing.

  15. I have a 2 1/2 year old and it was easy to avoid the baby craze shopping that mom's are expected to do. We live on just my hubby's salary so we didn't have much money to spend. All we bought new was a crib mattress and a car seat. Clothes and toys were all bought second hand, except for a few things gifted by relatives. And with clothes a lot are unisex so for future kids we can reuse them. I never seen the point to buy super expensive baby clothes, since they just get tore up and stained. A friend of mine is one of those that has to have everything. Her daughter is about the same age as mine and had tons of brand new clothes, all the baby gadgets in pink, crib bedding all in pink, pink carseat, pink stroller, etc. Then a couple months ago she had a boy, which will be her last child, so they gave away all the girl colored stuff and then bought all new blue boy stuff, seems like such a waste. Then her daughter attends several classes a week. I'm constantly badmouthed by my relatives for not giving my daughter enough people interaction because we live out in the country, but I don't see the point to drive 30 miles each way to allow my daughter to participate in a 30 minute class of some sort when she won't really enjoy it until she gets older. She loves playing outside in the dirt, helps with stuff around the house, and loves life, so I think I'm raising her well. With future babies we won't have to buy anything we are already set there. And also to save money we did cloth diaper with homemade prefold diapers and covers, which sadly most people now don't cloth diaper to save money, they do it because its the new fad and have no problem dropping $20-30 per diaper to get fun prints. I've seen numerous women talking about how they have 100+ cloth diapers for their kid and have spent thousands on it, seems pointless. And when it comes down to it most of these people can't afford any of the things they buy, they just put it on credit cards.

  16. We have 8 children, ages 15 to 27. We live modestly, and our children never went without. 70 new toys a year is totally ridiculous! What values and responsibilies are these parents teaching their children??

  17. We live in Latah County. It's not that hard, for several reasons:

    1. Te nearest big-box-baby store is 2 hours away.
    2. We're blessed with a family of large families, so we get everything we need as hand-me-downs or craigslist scores.
    3. We have no TV, so no commercials to lure us.
    4. The people we spend time with are more likely to brag about a great thrift-store find than the latest gadget.
    5. No daycare. We both work (him self-employed, me part-time), but we get our schedules to line up. We also have family to lean on if we get in a bind.
    6. Sticks, rocks, and dirt are the best toys ever.

    Yay for farmkids!

  18. I love reading your blog, but have never commented until now :)
    Just last evening, we once again explained to our older sons that we just can not afford cell phones for them right now. They are 15 and 13 (we have 3 younger daughters too). We do not have a 2 parent income, although, I believe we live well (though tight!) The boys are usually pretty content, but when they notice all their peers with all their phones and gaming systems and fancy vacations, I think, like anyone, they feel "different". But it is just the way it is. They will pray about it and it will develop character one way or the other when they accept and face-it. They may not appreciate fully now that their Mom is available, married to their father, and they have plentiful siblings, and yet it really is priceless. My parents have been married (to each other!) for 43 years and my husbands parents (to each other also!) for 52 years. My husband and I for 17 years. There but for the GRACE of God, go I!

  19. After reading these comments, I am more optimistic about mankind and our values.

  20. My husband and I agreed that I would stay home with our daughter. She in turn did the same thing for several years. When her youngest (of two) started school, she began teaching in the same school that her children went to. Their school uniforms are bought from the school closet (second-hand to earn a little back on the cost) and go there when they are out-grown. My grand-daughters think that the Salvation is the best place to buy their other clothes. They only buy new things when all else fails. The younger girl wears hand-me-downs cheerfully. Often she has been waiting impatiently for her sister to grown out of something. They live below their and tithe to their church as well as giving to other causes. I still think that second-hand things are often better than new--better made and better materials. Our house is furnished with a lot of things that are "pre-owned", a term that amuses me.

  21. I have three children... 25 yrs 22 yrs and 3 years. No the last one was not an oops :) I raised the older children as a single Mom... so there just wasn't a lot of extra. Now with the baby I get to stay home! We have done a lot of garage sales, thrift stores and hand me downs from friends. I nursed (no formula expense) and made all of her baby food. She has started to hear the word no. But knows that every time we go into the store she does not need to get something. She is a very happy well adjusted little girl who's "house" is the box from our new hot water heater as it should be. We just don't go to the big box baby store unless we know what we are after. I have to tell you that the battery operated snot sucker was worth the trip!

  22. I appreciate those who have made the point above, that 70 toys a year won't make up for not having two committed parents.

  23. We've got a 5 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old so I am now moving out of the baby years, but I can tell you that we didn't subscribe to the crazy baby industry as a whole. We had a wonderful shower and many great gifts from family and friends before our first was born. Other than that almost everything was free (our diaper bag, double stroller, etc) or 2nd hand (rummage sales, craigslist or thrift store) and my kids are none the worse for it! They have too many toys as it is, but even so I don't think we'd make it to 70 unless you could each LEGO (my husband's from his childhood) or wood block (huge bucket for $2) individually and then we'd be way over! I find a great baby carrier like an ERGO is worth every penny and can replace a stroller, the crib I used as a baby got us through our three, the high chair that my mom used as a baby still worked great, cloth diapers save a ton of money and most parents are CRAZY to think that kids are way of bragging about financial wealth. They are our biggest blessing and treasure and if the Lord blesses us with more that would be wonderful, but in no way do I judge a family as showing off their wealth based on family size. And I do tend to judge a family as probably full of debt when I see crazy things like you showed in your piece! :)

  24. Just to offer a different perspective...... we did have a fair amount of disposable income when we were raising our children, in California at the time. My husband had a higher ranking military job, and we had done well investing money I had saved while serving in the military. The kids were in public school, and we took the bait, hook, line and sinker! They had all the newest toys and gadgets, the "coolest" clothes, all the goodies we could buy. It made them popular ( with the accompanying pressure that brings), greedy, and competitive (not in a good way). By junior high, I knew our choices were not making good people. We switched to home/independent studies, and cut back, slowly. As soon as feasible, we bought property in Texas and started sustainable farming. My kids turned out remarkably well, I did stay home with them,so they had parents and the "stuff". Now, as a grandma, I have advised them, 1/4 of the toys, and make them low tech and preferably from craigslist, 1/2 the clothes, most from CL also, and make the time to be with them, that is more important than anything that could ever be bought. They are listening. :-)

  25. Your article is right on! I will not go into details about our daily life, but I will give you an idea of how our children felt about spending money.
    Prom night. Here is what we did for DD. She borrowed a dress, and I bought her black patent leather sandals which she wore for years. She and her best friend turned our bathroom into a hair salon and did each other's hair (They looked gorgeous!). I did her nails.
    The boys were from frugal families also. So we thought why not feed them instead of expensive dinners no one could really afford? There were 8 of them. I fixed my special lasagna, set the table with my best china, crystal and silverware. Another parent made garlic bread and a salad, and the other set provided sparkling grape juice and a dessert.
    On that night, we took pictures and then left, giving the girls strict orders that no one was to do dishes. We parents went to a cheap pizza joint and enjoyed our outing.
    The kids agreed that the evening was a roaring success; the dinner cost them nothing, and since all had borrowed clothing the only cost was the ticket of prom itself.
    Later I found out that others had spent between $500 to (get this) $3000 for the night. Rented limos, designer dresses, tuxes, etc.
    Our kids reported they had so much fun and seemed to think they had a better time as they were not trying to impress anyone.

    1. I lived on the edge of a wealthy area(Scottsdale, AZ). Many of the parents spent thousands on things like party buses(complete with stripper pole!) and designer wear. We got some markers and decorated a parents mini-van as our Prom-mobile for the night. We had a blast driving up in that thing!

  26. Ok, I love all the stories about thriftiness; I'm a bargain bug myself. In our house, we could afford to do a fancier form of parenting, but we choose not to. I volunteer to serve a wonderful group of loving mothers with young kids, and I'll just say this: it's do-able to raise kids without the frills, but it's often hard. It's hard to go against the current of culture. It's 100% worth it, but it's still tough. So, please everyone, say an encouraging word to all those moms you know who are doing the "low to no frills" form of parenting. Materialistic media is relentless, and you're exposed to it as soon as you leave the house (if not while in the house). I wouldn't trade our simple life, but I do sometimes need encouragement to keep it up.

  27. I wish this was in every paper in the USA. Love it. We raised our kids on the frugal. Makes me laugh when I get invited to a baby shower these days. They have the BabysR Us register guides and the things they have on their just for breastfeeding alone is staggering. We too did buy new carseats but they were the new thing and we did live in Los Angeles then. Nancy

  28. Two Americas. Two cultures. Parents especially should choose carefully.
    Montana Guy

    1. Excellent point.

    2. Perfect phrasing. So glad I live in the good one!

  29. 4 children aged 5-11, a mother that lives with us, and a yearly income of under 20,000. we manage just fine with hand me downs, thrift shops and yard sales. We set up at flea markets to sell items we make or vintage items I find that I know are worth something and use that money for luxury items like a used dvd to watch movies. We have no TV subscription and living in the mountains means we have no TV reception and that's fine with us. We just use the TV for movies we get. Our biggest splurge would be brand new Legos for all of us to play and build together, but even those are bought on clearance or when I have coupons to make a good deal. We manage just fine!

  30. this is silly but i'll put it in anyway.our daughter was about two when she saw a commercial for a cereal in the shape of choc. chip cookies. she was desperate for them.
    even 29 years ago they were about 3.50 a box.
    i told her they were too expensive but she could have them for Christmas if she still wanted them then.
    she did. we bought them.
    one taste and her disappointment was monumental. she declared them unfit to eat. no surprise since she was raised on oatmeal.
    she treasured them uneaten for several months as she had waited so long for them, then gave them to someone who did eat them.
    they learn a lot from these incidents and value money properly, too.

    if they want a thing greatly let them wait for it for a special occasion.
    deb h.

  31. Ah what a horrible world we live in. Hi Patrice. We have a 5yr old, 3yr old, 1yr old and one on the way. I do see the kids as a financial 'burden' as in yes they do cost money... a fact that I think some people have forgotten? Though family size does affect our budget, it is a growing problem for many. I don't think raising kids costs that much, but they can be expensive. We buy used(except car seats), we cloth diaper, breastfeed to cut down on expenses. But if you walk in to babies are us watch out! I'm feeling you, a new mom wouldn't know where to turn. All the gizmos and gadgets to "help".... We have a swing, a jumper thing and a our used crib(ask we have had since or oldest was small)... our number 1 baby item used is these 2 baby wraps we have, both bought used. Our kids do have a toy room to keep the toys out of the bedrooms. We struggle with the junk toys we get from family more than anything. We don't have toys with batteries... We have toys that you make the noises, you use your imagination with. As our kids grow the financial aspects have changed. Feeding the kids healthy, good, real food is a daunting task. Here in upstate NY everything is so incredibly outrageous. We live in a 'must have' society where it is some competition to have bigger, better, more expensive stuff. I hate it and will continue to fight against it! We rely on hand me downs, thrift stores, Craigslist and clearance for clothes. Our kids will never have the best, New thing but they will have clothes, good food, great memories, good education, love and most importantly God.

  32. We raised our four kids with hand-me-downs, when possible, getting much of our initial "baby gear" from our extended families - stuff that later went right back to parents of the next crop of babies.

    Oh, we bought some things new, and the kids got the occasional special toys for the appropriate holidays (and grandparents were notorious for some of the pricier things) but for the most part, if we couldn't afford something we did without.

    Our four kids now range from 30 to 19, and are all well-adjusted and able to now handle money wisely on their own.

    Steve Herr

  33. My kids are teens now . My husband makes a good salary , I stay home. The only new thing we bought was car seats , and a new mattress for baby bed. Lots of gifts to start with at the baby shower , lots of hand-me-downs and grandmas and great grandmas kept us in clothing and too many toys until school years. I spent time getting rid of toys actually, the best toys one hundred years ago or today cardboard boxes, mud puddles, blocks , crayons, clay . My girls learned to shop used clothing during the 2008 slowdown. They were never allowed to ask and beg for things from stores. occasionally I bought them something and they were happy about it. They are not greedy today or spoiled , 17 year old is shopping for prom dress , I told her under $100. and she is searching because she wants to keep it under $70. Which may sound extravagant to some who read here . I asked my eldest yesterday if she felt "poor" and she said no she actually fees like we are rich. I see parents who struggle with greedy children and they believe I must have been mean to my kids to get them to not beg and throw fits over things they see in stores....all it takes is resolve. I never did buy my children things in stores to start with and I never promised them a treat "if" they behaved .All that does is make a kid beg and whine and a parent keep threatening they won't get their treat if they don't start behaving. I expected them to behave and when they didn't they were immediately removed out to the car for a talking to or swift spanking (not beating) and then back in to try again or go home....If this is done for the first probably 2-3 years then you can actually buy your child a treat and they will be happy about it and surprised and you can keep doing that randomly and occasionally any time you feel you can afford it and want to do it. No one "deserves" a treat for behaving well , it should just be expected especially if they are informed before you arrive at the store what good behavior is. My friend spent a least $100. extra every time she set foot in a store because her kids threw a fit over everything they wanted. She said she "tried" my advice but her daughter age 3 screamed all threw the store for a toy and then when she was still screaming at the check out she "had" to buy it for her because my advice "hadn't" worked at all. All she had done was given her daughter extra strength to keep up the screaming...if she had stuck to it and there was no pay off for screaming she would have had a couple rotten shopping experiances and then a lifetime of pleasant ones and less expensive too. Young parents you can do this too! This is the way I was raised and I felt we were rich also. I have made mistakes over the years but on this issue I feel we nailed it !!

  34. I have twin 9 year old girls. It was amazing the amount of stuff we received that we never even used. As they have gotten older, I'd say the biggest help in avoiding children with the "I wants" is to turn off the TV. Our children don't watch it, and rarely if ever ask for things. Our relatives are amazed when they ask the girls what they want and are met mostly with blank looks! It also prevents us from seeing what marketers want us to realize we need!

  35. We're raising six from ages 9 down to 18 mos. The financial aspect is nowhere near as daunting as the mental aspect. We have so many because we understand them to be blessings from God and are open to more in the future. Sometimes my husband and i both feel like we should put them in public schools instead of home schooling to meet some of our financial goals faster, but other than that temptation (and the desire to go overboard at Christmas) we really don't feel tempted to spend that much on them. They get a birthday present and a Christmas present and that's pretty much it. Certainly not 70 toys per year. I still feel like that is so many it's hard to keep up with clutter. But i love the family we've built and i do think that having to share and not being able to give them everything they desire or inundate the home with electronic nonsense breeds much better people than those who only have a few because they are afraid they won't be able to afford more with having to put them in soccer and get them a cell phone, ipad, etc.

  36. I'm the mom of a 1 year old and I try to be as frugal as I can be; when I've had more money, well, when my husband and I have had more money, I've indulged more, yes, but I don't feel the need to go crazy buying things. That is just silly. I LOVE to go to thrift shops to look for toys and clothes for my little one. (I take it as a game or challenge of sorts, what kind of neat stuff can I get and for how little? :D )


  37. Four kids, ages 12, 6, 4, and 1 (almost 2). We're done, because I am the world's worst time manager and no amount of money will install an extra hour in the day...

    ...but I do not believe that children need to be bathed in "stuff" to be brought up well. Heck, they've surveyed kids-- given a choice between a $200 video game system and 2 hours of their parents' time, the vast majority want the time.

    The idea that children must be materially pampered to be brought up well is another lie of the ad culture. It's not even a liberal/conservative thing-- I know many liberals who do not feel the need to bathe their children in Stuff. It's just an economically convenient lie for the multi-billionaires who profit every time We the People purchase another hollow status symbol.

  38. Oh, and-- for the record, we ARE closer to the 70 new toys a year crowd than the 5 new toys a year crowd.

    It isn't hard when yard sales and thrift stores are clogged with the perfectly good things someone else's kid got tired of.

    You know what happens to most of those toys?? They are played with for a few weeks...

    ...and then they are rounded up, wiped off, put in a box or bag, and given to some other relative or taken back to the thrift shop from whence they came.

    No more!! I'm tired of tripping over our luxury.

  39. With my first, he was the first grandchild on both sides of the family so we got TONS of stuff! Some things I found were essential for my kids like the swing and the bouncy seat. Other things were thrown away like the wipe warmer and the Diaper Genie. They were a total waste of time. When I had my youngest in 2012, we didn't need much of anything but my friend wanted to throw me a shower so she made it into a diaper shower. What a blessing that was! I didn't have to buy diapers for most of the first year with my little one!

    Now that I have 3 boys, I sometimes feel like we are drowning in toys but they really don't get anything besides their birthday and Christmas. They did each get a five dollar toy when we went out to the store a couple weeks ago but that's a rare treat.

    I think the thing that helps the most is we don't have cable tv we have Netflix and Amazon so they are never bombarded with commercials. They have toys that they love and always want more of like Lego's and Hexbugs but they don't want every new, bright, and shiny thing that's out there.

    I can't imagine them each getting 70 new toys a year!! It would be wall to wall toys in my house! My boys have all had hand me down toys and clothes. My youngest is now playing with toys that both the older two have played with. It's actually fun to see and brings back memories of my older two as babies.

  40. There's another thought on the ad culture. We do have cable now (I promised my hubby that, if we ever got out of debt, the first thing I would do is allow cable-- he made good, so I had to). For the first year, I HATED it (and I'm still not a fan-- my kids watch waaaaay too much TV). Then I remembered how my father treated my case of "I-Wants" as a kid.

    He was a weekend daddy with a good job and only one child-- he was indulgent, and could have been more so if he hadn't been smart. When I was about six, he told me to spend a month making a list of every toy I wanted. If I made the list, he said, we'd go shopping and buy everything I thought I REALLY wanted.

    I made my list (two pages long), and we headed for Hills Department Store. We went through the toy department and looked at each item. Why did I want it?? What did I think it would do?? How was I going to use it??

    Lo and behold, most of those toys wouldn't even do the things that were shown in the commercials. Daddy taught me about ADVERTISING-- and we wadded up a whole page and tossed it in the trash, me walking six inches taller with my newfound intelligence.

    Of the ones that would do what was advertised, I discovered that I really wanted some of them because I thought they would make me more popular-- and Daddy taught me about buying friends and why it would not work (a lesson I handed down to my son last night). I wasn't exactly happy with that lesson, but as I grew older it was good to know.

    Of the remaining half a page, we came to the realization that I'd play with them for a few weeks-- and then they would be used up, or broken, or boring. And the cost!! I found out what it took for Daddy to earn $10.00, and that $9.99 was really just one penny short of $10.00. Well, we wouldn't be ripped off like THAT again!!

    We left the store with $10 worth of little animal figurines (anyone remember Sylvanian Families?? I think they've been trotted back out as Calico Corners or something...) with two big-ticket items written down for my Christmas list.

    Yes, I was a spoiled child. But at least I wasn't spoiled stupid. God bless you, Daddy.

  41. In short (sorry I ramble), there is an easy answer to "How can you spare any expense?" for a beloved child.

    The easy answer is, "Because I love you." Because I love you, I do not want to drown you in meaningless things. Because I love you, I want you to learn to think about what is really important. Because I love you, I do not want to instill stupid materialism as a value. Because I love you, I will teach you to think about what will be good for you in the long run, not just what will make you happy in this moment.

    How can Mommy say NO? Let the record show that sometimes I DO say yes-- and I guiltily revel in the fact that our finances (>$50,000 a year, net) allow me to do so. The rest of the time?? I say NO, with a clear conscience and a glad heart, because I LOVE THEM.

  42. Makes me glad my family has a tradition of passing on used items to the next mommy. I've got a 6 month old and I feel like I have too much stuff for him! I was given two seats that play music, a swing with mobile, crib with matching changing table, rocking chair, highchair, pack n' play, bathtub, boppy pillow, stroller, play mat, clothes, it goes on! Also, craigslist for clothes, if you do it right, you don't ever pay more than $1 per clothing item! The biggest problem with the baby industry is the need to impress. Who do I have to impress? My son won't remember anything, I'm working in the home, so I hardly ever leave the house, no one comes over. I'm just raising a child, so everything is evaluated on the basis of functionality, not worth. Babies/Children are only expensive if you let them be. When I splurge for my baby, it will be in education, because I will homeschool. I will spare no expense for his mind and I'm willing to pay for it, but even in that, you don't have to go broke to do it :)


  43. I was blessed to have my child in London, England. The air force
    base was about 60 miles away. I bought a lot of used baby
    clothes for 10 cents a piece. I even got a used changing table.
    Now I will admit that I did go to Toys r us, but didn't get that many
    toys. One kids out grows them to fast, to even bother to get that many

  44. We get around it by being cash poor.
    I stayed home with the kids because I wanted to, and when we looked at the cost of daycare, it made economic sense too.
    +90% of our clothes (ours and the kids') come from thrift stores. My boys (13,10,& 6) don't seem to mind. My DH loves it. (I buy him used $6/piece uniform clothing from Walt's so he doesn't have to worry if he gets pipe cement or caulk on the pants) I'm a Goodwill/Thrift shopper from my HS days when I liked funky, retro looks, and I know used is more durable than new! What's going to fall off has fallen off and bad zippers have already broken by the time I'm shopping for it!
    When pregnant with our oldest, we were gifted with a crib and highchair (hardly used the chair, could have done without it) from my parents, and a car seat and stroller from friends (used the stroller 3 or 4 times, same as the high chair). What we did use - that crib, the car seat, an infant carrier/car seat (bought new) an arm's reach co-sleeper, bought from ebay for 1/5 the cost of a new one, and a medela electric breast pump bought used from a friend, served all three babies. Almost all their clothing came from baby re-sale shops. I even told my friends to hit them for my shower gifts.
    As for toys, they get 4 things each for Christmas (Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read) and they get birthday gifts. Last Christmas they did get big gifts - Nintendo 3DS toys, but only because I found them used, for cheap at the pawnshop. Anything else (pokemon cards, etc) they finagle from grandparents or save up their chore money to buy. I do tend to indulge them in books when the Schoolastic book fair or the flyers come out, but we are familiar faces at the library as well.
    They might not have the newest of everything, but on the plus side, they need no other motivation to ask their grandparents if they can do odd jobs.