Having a baby when experiencing lower income is a wonderful experience plagued with frustration. When I had my children, I was trying hard to improve my finances and still struggling to get something as simple as diapers. On average, it costs $70-$80 a month to provide disposable diapers for one baby. That can be a hefty expense for a lower income family. Fortunately, there are ways to make things simpler for yourself and ease your finances a little bit. Here are a few ways low-income families can get free diapers.
For some kids, a trip to the grocery store with mom or dad is B-O-R-I-N-G. Yet, for many of those same kids, a trip to Costco is fun. Why? My guess is the free samples. If you can get free, tasty food while you’re shopping, going to the grocery store is suddenly a lot more fun. Even better, kids can try to convince their parents to buy those cheap Costco desserts that kids love (and grown ups, too!).
Cheap Costco Desserts That Kids Love
There are so many delicious desserts at Costco, almost all of which are reasonably priced. Kids, in particular, tend to gravitate to these desserts:
Churro From the Food Court
Don’t buy your kids these unless you plan to buy them every visit. The churros are that good! Costco churros are a full 18 inches long and are fried and coated with cinnamon and sugar. Best of all, they’re only $1!
Delizza Patisserie Belgian Mini Cream Puffs
Found in the freezer section, Delizza Patisserie Belgian Mini Cream Puffs can’t be beat. There are 120 mini cream puffs in the container, making them perfect for parties or to just snack on after school.
These feature a light, flaky pastry filled with a decadent cream filling. You should let them thaw for 30 minutes to one hour, but some people can’t wait and eat them right from the freezer.
They’re mini size make them the perfect kid-friendly dessert.
Who needs donuts for breakfast when you can have a Costco danish? Found at the bakery, you can choose from several different flavors such as cinnamon, cheese, apple, and cherry. Serve these for a delicious weekend breakfast or gently heat one up in the microwave for an after-school snack. Cinnamon danishes used to be my favorite flavor when I was a kid.
Ice Cream Sundae
If you decide against the churro at the food court, you and your kids may want to opt for the ice cream sundaes. These are $2.49, and you can choose between two different toppings—strawberry or chocolate. These are the perfect treat after a summer shopping trip to Costco. Even better, Costco is very generous with the toppings, which helps to elevate this dessert to a whole new level.
David’s Cookies 9-Inch Rainbow Cake
What’s better than bright, rainbow colors and sugar? For a kid, the answer is nothing! David’s Cookies 9 Inch Rainbow Cake will delight your kids. Inside, you’ll find five thin layers, with white cream frosting in between each layer. The layers form the color of a rainbow with red, then orange, then yellow, then green, and finally blue. Your kids will likely be delighted when you serve this yummy, fun cake.
Your kids likely enjoy going to Costco with you because they can get free samples. They’ll likely beg to go with you every time if you give them one of these five cheap Costco desserts that kids love.
Which Costco dessert do your kids enjoy most?
Although birthdays are meant to be a celebration, sometimes we can’t help but feel we’re spending more money on a party than we need to. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars on new toys that your child will outgrow, put that money to good use by hosting a do-good birthday party for your kid. Lots of parenting websites have great ideas for charity birthday party ideas, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorites. And if you’re worried about your children hating your suggestions, kids are natural givers and would likely be more than willing to help out people in need.
Bring an Animal Shelter to Your Home
There are plenty of pet adoption centers and animal societies that would be willing to bring their animals to private events like a birthday party.
Or, you could see if you could host your party at the local animal shelter. That’s what the Shaw Family in Portland, Oregon did. They had their party guests bring treats, toys, and other donations for the cats and dogs, and you can do the same. Guests can also be given the option to adopt one of the pets!
Have a Couple Piggy Banks in the Party Area
At an early age, we teach kids the value of money with allowances and earning extra cash with chores or babysitting. To show them how a little goes a long way, have a couple piggy banks in the party area where guests can make their donations. You can label each of the piggy banks with a different charity, which gives guests the option to choose which organizations they would like to support.
Organize a Clothing Drive
Take cue from the Multari twins in Hamilton, Ontario, and have your child’s friends and neighbors bring in previously loved and any unused clothes. The girls ask for pajamas every year, sometimes receiving as many as 93 pairs of pajamas to donate. The girls’ pajama drive has been so successful, they have even started their own nonprofit. Depending on your charity, you might have to limit the kinds of garments you accept.
Donations to Your Local Homeless Shelter
Another idea is to call your local homeless shelter and ask what items they need. Then, you can create a wish list, and party goers can choose from the wish list.
Another idea is to see what food the shelter may need. You and your party guests could create sack lunches for the homeless, making sandwiches, bagging chips and desserts, and adding a fruit.
American children are often spoiled when it comes to material items, especially when they receive many gifts from well-intended birthday party guests. Instead of showering your children in gifts, choose one of these charity parties to help spread the wealth, so to speak. The more you and your children practice giving, the more you’ll enjoy helping others. Your guests can feel good about their role in helping others, too.
As a new parent, you’ll likely feel pressured to buy many things. After all, loving parents want the best for their children and should be willing to pay for that, right? While there are areas where you won’t want to go the cheapest route, there are other areas where you can save money. One area where you don’t need to spend the most money is when buying car seats. Buying expensive car seats isn’t necessary for your child’s safety, but there are other standards you’ll want to consider.
What to Consider Instead of Buying Expensive Car Seats
Rather than just looking at the price of the car seat when deciding which one to buy, you should instead consider several other factors.
The most important factor in protecting your child in case of a crash is installing the car seat properly. Yet, many, many parents unknowingly install the car seat improperly.
If you live in the United States, you can go to any local fire station, and the fire fighter will check to make sure the car seat is properly installed. If it’s not, the fire fighter can help you install it properly.
Before making your purchase, consider the safety record of the car seat you want to buy. An excellent place to look is Consumer Report’s Car Seat ratings. You’ll find that buying an expensive car seat isn’t necessary. There are many cheaper car seats that offer your child all the safety he needs.
Length of Use
Some of the cheapest car seats have lower weight and height restrictions, which means you’ll need to buy the next size up more quickly. Sometimes, buying a mid-price range car seat is actually more affordable than the cheapest brand because you’ll be able to use it longer.
What to Avoid When Buying Car Seats
Even if money is tight, please avoid buying used car seats. Some people don’t know this, but car seats actually have an expiration date. That date is typically six to ten years after the seats are manufactured. Why an expiration on car seats? The general idea is that the plastic and seat belts can degrade after years of exposure to the sun and heat. Also, safety standards are constantly changing, so new car seats may offer your child more protection than used seats you buy from someone else.
In addition, if you buy a used car seat, you have no way to know if that car seat survived a car crash. If it did survive a crash, there may be small cracks in the plastic that you do not know about, which can make the seat less safe for your child should you be involved in an accident.
Car seats are necessary, but can be pricey. However, don’t feel pressured into buying expensive car seats. Instead, consider the car seat’s safety record and make sure to install the seat properly. Finally, choosing seats that have higher weight and height limits may save you the most money over the time your child will need car seats.
Counting money is one of the most foundational skills children must learn. Counting and making change are critical skills that many entry-level jobs require. When you apply the following lessons on how to teach a child to count money, you challenge his or her mind to grow in other ways, too.
To give you a thorough array of options on teaching counting skills, I sought out advice from experienced educators and parents. Here are my findings.
How to Teach a Child to Count Money
Create a Play Store
Parents who have taught their children the basics of money said one of the best ways to do so was to set up a play store. Together with their child, they created a fake shop with household items or toys listed for sale. Use a sticky note to indicate the price of each item, then give your child change, and open the shop for business.
Depending on your child’s age, you can vary the degree of difficulty. For example, for a 3-year-old, you could say, “This costs one quarter,” and teach her to identify that coin. For older children, you can pay with a dollar bill and walk them through making change. Don’t forget to also teach them how to count change back to the “customer.”
Teach Them to Count by Fives and Tens
“Kids need to have a good understanding of place value and number sense before they count money,” says a third-grade teacher with I spoke via Facebook. “Start with one coin, and teach them how to count it and how many it takes to make a dollar.”
She goes on to describe a great money game involving two dice. Give the child as many pennies as the number he or she rolled. Have the child then exchange it for the highest value possible.
For example, if the child rolls a ten he or she can trade in pennies for a dime.
In addition to teach your child how to count money, when you teach them to count by fives and tens, you’re teaching them the beginning stages of multiplication.
Let Them See Real Transactions
Many people have had great success with giving their children real world experience.
Here are several examples:
Earn Money Through Chores
Help them understand that “work = pay,” and help them count their earnings. If there’s something they want to buy, help them estimate the cost.
Lead by Example
Allow your child to watch you pay for something in cash. This will help him see how money works and how it requires lots of it to pay for his needs and wants.
Study the History of Real Money Together
Hand your child the coins you received in change that day and quiz her on some coin facts. Not only can learning to count money teach your children better math skills, but you can also create an impromptu history lesson. For example, did you know that the nickel used to be called a “half dime” up until 1883? Half dimes were made of silver which became scarce during the Civil War. After that, they were made of copper and nickel, and they finally were made and referred to entirely of nickel in the 1880s. Click here for more U.S. coin facts.
The overall theme of how to teach a child to count money is YOUR involvement. Set aside time to sit at the table and talk about how many nickels are in a quarter or how many pennies are in a dollar. Talk about how much money you earned at your first job or something you saved up for, like a bicycle. That will help your child apply what he or she has learned.
How did you learn to count money? In school? At home?
What age should kids learn about money? That’s a difficult question because kids learning about money isn’t the same as, say, potty training. Kids continue to learn about money throughout their childhoods. However, having said that, your kids can begin to learn about money in the early preschool years and continue on from there.
How Preschool Kids Learn about Money
At this age, kids are watching you closely so set a good example. For instance, when you go to a grocery store, don’t reward your kids with a treat every time. If you do, they start to expect that you will just buy things for them.
Instead, create buy, spend, and save jars. If you want to pay them an allowance for chores, now is the time to start. You can set up a chore chart, and pay them for their chores. When you pay them, you can help them separate their money into the three jars. Let them use their spend money for little things they want to buy.
This is also a good time to get them money-related toys like play cash registers so they can get used to the concept of the different values of our coins and bills, spending money to buy something, not having enough money, and making change. Play store and grocery shopping with them frequently.
How Elementary Kids Learn about Money
Once your children learn the rudimentaries about money, it’s time to teach them more complex lessons. The grocery store is a great place to teach these lessons. You can teach about buying generics, price comparing different sizes of the same product, and the value of using coupons.
Kids this age will be earning more than they did as preschoolers, so you can also help them save for a large goal like an expensive Lego set they want to buy. You should also teach them that once the money is spent, it’s gone. Then, they need to work hard to earn more to save and spend all over again.
How Middle School Kids Learn about Money
At this age, kids are going to want to spend, spend, spend. This is the time to teach them, if you haven’t already, that you won’t buy everything they want. Just because your daughter wants new jeans when she already has enough doesn’t mean you’ll buy them. She can save her money and buy them if she really wants them.
You should also teach them about the power of compound interest. This helps them realize that if they delay spending today, compounding interest can help them have more money later.
How High School Kids Learn about Money
Now is the time when all your hard work teaching your kids about money comes to fruition. Rather than buying or giving your child a car, have them save for at least half of the price of a car.
Also, teach your kids about credit cards, how to use them responsibly, and how to avoid accruing debt.
Be very clear how much you can afford to pay for their upcoming college. Then, they can choose a college that is affordable, or choose one that costs more than you can afford. However, help them understand how accruing student loan debt can make it harder to achieve their goals in adulthood.
Throughout your child’s life, you should be teaching them money lessons. As they age, these financial lessons should become more specific. If you’ve done your job well, by the time they leave home, they’ll be able to make smart money decisions. However, if your child makes foolish money decisions, know that you’ve laid the ground work so they know how to improve their financial situation should they need to.
There seems to be a lot of discussion, constantly, about how expensive children are. While yes, you do have to be financially responsible about having a child, they do not need to be anywhere near as expensive as some ‘studies’ would have you believe. This is a topic I’ve already written about, so today we’re going to chat about the reasons why children are priceless.
I’m not trying to make it seem like having children is all sunshine and roses, because it’s not. It’s far, far from it actually, but having a child will change your life in ways you couldn’t imagine until it happens.
Reasons Why Children Are Priceless
They Inspire Deep Love
You may think you knew what love was before you had a child; trust me I did. I love my husband, my family and my friends but the love you have for your child is something you will have never experienced. The love you have for this tiny little human is indescribable. It changes and shapes every other relationship in your life.
The love you have for your child grows. Though I instinctively wanted to love and protect my child as soon as he was born, the love I have for him and my other two children, is so much different, and intense, than it was on the days they were born.
This idea is best epitomized by Elizabeth Stone’s statement, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
They Spread Happiness
I am truly happy when I am with my children and they are in good moods. You simply cannot be in a bad mood when your happy toddler smiles up at you or when your tweens tell you silly jokes. Their emotions are raw, and you can’t help but feel it with them.
They Teach You Patience
You may be an impatient person, but once you have a child, that has to change. If you show impatience and anger with your children, they will likely shut down or cry. Instead, you must gently encourage them so that they can succeed. (This can be extremely trying when you have to wait by the door for your toddler to slowly put on his shoes by himself because he’s refused your help or when he unbuckles his car seat for the fifth time in one car trip.)
Children will, by their very nature, teach you to be patient.
They Give You a Second Chance at Childhood Joy
By the time you’re in your twenties and thirties, you likely have lost much of your childhood joy. You may no longer take joy in driving around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights or the first snowfall of the season. Once you have a child, all of that changes.
As you watch your young children grow excited for Christmas, you do, too. When your child gleefully opens the presents under the Christmas tree, you will likely feel a spark of excitement again. When you bundle your child up to go out in the first snowfall, you will suddenly delight in building a snowman and making snow angels. Children give you a second chance at childhood joy.
They Are Brutally Honest
Kids are honest. Kids force you to be honest. Honest about yourself and about your life. When your child is born you are suddenly hyper aware of every detail in your life. From your financial life to the mess on your bedside table. Children inadvertently have a way of forcing us to be honest about our lives.
It was having a child that forced us to finally get serious about getting out of debt rather than living with it in limbo.
They Are Humbling
Becoming a parent is one of, if not the most, humbling experience in the world. No amount of research, parenting book reading or doctors appointments can ever prepare you for your child and the experiences you will go through as a parent. I think being humbled is an important trait for people and if you’ve yet to experience it, having a kid will do it for sure.
They Make You Less Self-Centered
Before you have children, you may not realize you’re self-centered, but you are. You likely have your own routine, your own rituals, that give you joy. Yet, when you have a child, all of that discipline and focus on yourself and what makes you feel good is upended. You get much less sleep in the baby stage, and your life and schedule suddenly revolve around the baby’s.
When your kids get older, your life still centers around your children and their education and their activities. Sure, as kids get older and become more independent, you will be able to do more things for, and spend more time on, yourself. However, you don’t get your life back as truly your own until your kids move out. By then, you won’t want to go back to the self-centered years before you had kids.
They Give You Perspective
Having a child puts your life in a whole new perspective. Suddenly everything else in life is so much less important. You wonder what you did with your time before, and you wonder how you possibly lived your life without this person in it.
For the rest of your life, your children will shape and change your world, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Having a child is the hardest, yet most rewarding thing you can ever possibly do in your life. Yes, they are expensive, but don’t believe that kids are as expensive to raise as the experts would have you believe. Besides, what they give back in their love and the way they make you grow as a person are some of the reasons why children are priceless.
Editors Note: If you’re interested in checking out an up and coming new personal finance blog, consider reading kidwealth.com. Its got several articles similar to this one.
My kids started helping with chores when they were about 18 months to 2 years of age. My oldest got his own little broom that would recite, “sweeping, sweeping” as he swept. He loved that broom, and he loved helping out. Most toddlers are eager to do what the people around them are doing. If you have a toddler and want to start working with them on chores or you want a more organized chore routine for your older kids, consider using one of these free chore chart templates for kids.
Why Assign Kids Chores?
Some parents don’t want their kids to do chores. They argue that kids should just be kids. However, there are many valid reasons why you should assign your children chores:
They Learn Valuable Life Skills
When I went to college, I couldn’t believe how many kids didn’t even know how to do their own laundry. My son started doing his own laundry at 12, and my daughter started at 11. The larger variety of chores you have your kids do, the better they will be able to successfully live on their own.
They Learn to Contribute
There are many things that need to be done to run a household successfully. If you don’t expect your kids to contribute, they can grow accustomed to the idea of others doing things for them, which can lead to a sense of entitlement. The family is the first place kids learn what it means to be part of a group and to help run that group. This, too, will be a valuable lesson for their adult lives.
Should You Pay Kids for Chores?
This can be another devisive issue. Some families don’t pay their kids money for chores because they want them to realize that they are part of a family and family members help one another.
Others, like my family, pay their kids for chores because they want kids to firmly make the connection between work and income. You work, and you earn money. You don’t work, and you’re broke.
Still others don’t pay cash but instead let their kids earn privileges like watching a show, or playing a video game, or staying up late based on the chores they do.
The choice is up to you and what your family decides will work best.
Free Chore Chart Template for Kids
There is no need for you to create your own chore chart template for kids when there are so many out there! Here are a few of our favorites:
Healthy, Happy, Impactful has a chore chart template that gives blank lines to list up to eight chores beside squares for days of the week. Just check off each day that the chore is completed. There is also a box at the bottom for notes.
Plan for Awesome has a chore chart template for toddlers. This one is unique in that rather than words, there are pictures so your littlest helpers can understand. You can also use the pictures and words for the preschool and early elementary set.
Make any one of these chore charts last longer by laminating them or placing them in a plastic sleeve so you can use them week after week.
There’s no time like the present to start having your kids help with chores. These free chore templates can help motivate them and help them find pride in their accomplishments.
Spring, summer and fall are great times for families. In most areas, the temperatures are ideal for being outdoors. But even though humans don’t hibernate, winter keeps us indoors. The winter can be harsher for parents with kids who constantly complain about having nothing to do. This is when you’ll need some fun winter crafts for kids (and bored adults).
Fun Winter Crafts for Kids
You may be tempted to take the kids on an expensive winter vacation. Why not save your money and get creative? Here are some fun crafts you can do to keep your kids occupied during those dreary, winter days.
Create Your Own Greeting Cards
You don’t need fancy machines and expensive paper to make cute cards. The shelves of craft stores are lined with stickers and other accessories you can use. Ten blank cards in a pack will cost you $4 to $5, and you can choose from a variety of styles and colors as well. Once you have chosen the base, head to the sticker and ribbon aisles and gather some accessories. This card was made using a burlap premade card and some stickers. For kids who like to use needle and thread, visit the cross-stitch section and purchase a book of designs. Then stitch and attach them to the premade cards. You can make a lot of cards in a few weeks!
Create a Cute Wreath for Your Door Using Tulle
Tulle wreaths are fun and so easy to do. You have a lot of color choices and it’s often on sale at craft stores like Hobby Lobby. All you need is a wreath form, scissors, and any embellishments you want to add. Cut the tulle into strips and tie it around the wreath, keeping the knot on the inside. Once the wreath form is covered, trim and fluff the tulle until it looks full and even. Then add embellishments. Here’s an example of an easy Christmas wreath.
Speaking of Christmas …
You can find hundreds of ideas for making Christmas ornaments on Pinterest. A cheap way is to go to the local dollar store and pick up some clear, plastic ornaments you can fill, something to fill them with and if you like, some stickers.
This ornament is filled with some foam pellets and embellished with stickers. All of the materials were purchased at a dollar store.
Personalize It With an Initial
You can find initials of all sizes in craft stores. Paint them or embellish them for a cute wall or door hanging.
This “S” was made by simply gluing glass gems found at the local dollar store. You can also add flowers and a ribbon for hanging to a premade initial.
Easy Wall Hangings Using a Canvas
Craft stores also have many sizes of canvases. Not everyone can paint, but most of us can glue. You can create a cute wall hanging by taking scrapbook paper and gluing it onto the canvas. To make the project super easy, use an 8 ½ X 11 canvas. The paper will fit perfectly. Once you have glued the paper onto the canvas, embellish it with letters, stickers, or whatever suits your personality.
While the months of January and February can be gloomy and dark, you can make the months more enjoyable with fun winter crafts for kids. In no time, spring will be here and you’ll be back outdoors enjoying the temperate weather and sunshine.
What are some of your favorite crafts for kids? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Traveling with babies and toddlers is always interesting. First, you have to plan the actual trip. How will baby do? What can you do as a parent to make baby more comfortable and able to pass the time while you’re traveling? But then there are other considerations, namely, all the gear that you have to pack so you can travel with baby. Think playpens, strollers, portable changing tables, etc. If you have twins, the planning is likely double. However, if you choose one of the best travel cribs for twins, you may get a lot of your travel gear in one purchase.
Best Travel Crib for Twins
Hands down, the best travel crib for twins is the Joovy Room².
This product comes with a thick pad for the bottom as well as a soft, fitted, waterproof sheet. This playpen can accommodate children from newborns to those 35 inches tall, which means you’ll be able to use it for several years. (The manufacturer asks that you discontinue use when the child can climb out.)
There are many pros with the Joovy Room².
This portable playpen is bigger than standard pack n plays, which makes it ideal for twins. In fact, it’s nearly 10 square feet in size and can easily accommodate two children.
The Joovy Room² has wide mesh on all sides, so you can more easily see your children.
It also comes with a storage bag that you can use when traveling with the Joovy.
Finally, it has two wheels on the bottom to allow you to easily move the Joovy Room².
Twin Nursery Center Bassinet Playpen Accessory
For newborns and infants, you can purchase the Joovy Twin Nursery Center Bassinet Playpen Accessory.
This handy accessory turns your playpen into the perfect portable crib for twin babies. It includes:
- Bassinet divider (so each baby has their own separate space to sleep in), and
- Changing table (which sits on top of the bassinet area)
For convenience, the changing table flips to the side when not in use.
The bassinet holds up to 30 pounds, which means the twins can use it until they weigh 15 pounds each.
Although twin parents love the Joovy Room², it does have some drawbacks.
Because it is large and comes with a high quality, thick mattress, some parents say that it’s heavy. A few even say it’s too heavy to travel with. However, that is a minority of parents.
Other parents complain that after the sheet has been washed a few times, it has the tendency to bunch and not fit as snugly as when it was new.
If you’re looking for the best travel crib for twins, consider adding the Joovy Room² to your baby registry or buying it. This product will continue to serve your family for several years.