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Monday Q&A-Drinks and Vacation Accomodations

Every Monday I answer a few questions from you, my readers! If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, leave me a comment, or email me (the frugal girl {at} gmail {dot} com) and put “Q&A” in the subject line.


I am curious what you give your kids to drink?? We make Iced-T from scratch and Lemonade, which is time consuming. So, we use mixes (which is the cheapest way out in the form of drinks) but the containers are not recyclable. Water is of course the best, but kids don’t always want water. Giving them OJ is so expensive! I call it liquid gold. I feel bad telling them that we have to water it down and ration, but 6-7 dollars per container is outrageous! What are your thoughts?

Back when I first started my blog, I wrote a post about saving money on beverages. You might find the info there to be helpful, though it’s not specifically kid-related.

In a nutshell, here’s how we handle our kids’ beverages:

My kids drink a small amount of OJ from frozen concentrate for breakfast, yogurt smoothies at lunch, and water pretty much every other time. We also have a 2-liter of soda with our pizza every Friday night. Water probably comprises about 90% of their beverage intake.

My kids would certainly love to drink lemonade, tea, soda, and juice all the time, but most beverages besides water are nutritionally empty and full of sugar. Those types of drinks are not something I want them to have all the time, so if they were to ask me for them on a regular basis, I would just say no (my children rarely ask, though, because they know what I will say!).

I think that it’s so important to get my kids in the habit of drinking plain water when they are thirsty. Though none of them were super enthusiastic about water when they first started drinking from a cup, all four of them happily drink it every day now.

Of course, having my kids drink mostly water saves me money too, but my main motivation for doing this is their health.

If you’ve been giving your children sugared drinks on a regular basis, I wouldn’t suggest giving them up cold-turkey. Maybe you could establish a rule that they can only have a sweet drink with meals and water in between. Once they get used to that, you could cut back to having a sweet drink with just breakfast and lunch, or something like that.

I don’t think you should feel at all bad about incorporating this change into your lifestyle, and I don’t think that you should worry dreadfully about not fulfilling your children’s desires for sweet drinks. You are the parent and you know what is best for them. Someday when they’re adults, they’ll thank you for it, I promise! I’m so, so grateful that my parents got me into the habit of drinking water when I was very young.

I’ll hop off of my soapbox in a minute, but I just wanted to add that an advantage of limiting sweet beverages is that they are that much more special when you do have them. If you drink soda every day, it’s not that exciting. However, if you only get sweet drinks every now and then, you appreciate them much more.

(in the above photo, Joshua is drinking caffeinated soda, which we let him have on vacation. Normally we have a pretty unbudging no-caffeine policy and a limited-soda policy, so he thought he’d nearly died and gone to heaven!)


Marianna sent me this question while we were away.

Since you and your family are enjoying a vacation…… what are some of your budget tips for accommodations?

On Thursday I plan to do a post about saving for vacations, but I’ll go ahead and answer this question now.

The main way we save on accommodations is by vacationing off-season. The beach-front condos we stay in usually run over $1000/week in the summertime but when we go, the prices are down around $550/week. That’s a huge savings! We get the same condo the summertime people do but pay about half price.

Obviously this technique won’t work terribly well if you have children in school, but since we homeschool, we can easily take our vacation whenever we want. Several families at the beach with us this year had just pulled their children out of public school for the week, though, so I suppose you this is something you could consider even if you don’t homeschool.

We also save by bringing our own linens. Our rental realty company charges over $75/week for sheets and towels (and you don’t get a lot of either of those). Paying that much for sheets and towels makes little to no sense to me. For that price I could practically buy new linens and I’d much rather have that $75 to spend on fun activities at the beach!

To cut down on the amount we have to bring, we have our kids’ beach towels double as their bath towels, and we bring their sleeping bags instead of sheets (we just throw them on top of the beds).

In addition to bringing our own linens, we do our own departure cleaning. This involves vacuuming, cleaning out the fridge, wiping down the bathrooms, and cleaning the glass coffee table that every single condo seems to have (incidentally, why anyone wants a glass table is beyond me. They definitely don’t work well with children!). My husband and I both pitch it to get it done, and it really doesn’t take that much time.


If you’ve got some helpful advice to add for Jennifer or Marianna, please leave a comment!

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Monday 28th of September 2009

A good step towards weaning kids off sugary drinks is club soda. It has the sparkly fizz that they're used to from regular soda, but doesn't have any sugar, and so it's healthy (especially if you buy the low-sodium kind.) I actually make my own club soda, from tap water, which is quite cheap once you got the soda maker machine (though the machine is pricey.) So my kids get club soda just about every dinner.


Monday 28th of September 2009

I was wondering about the milk thing as it's rarely in the grocery pics. I also have 4 kids and we drink 1/2 gal per day minimum, more if I'm baking. If sugar drinks and juice other than oj are presented as treats then the kids really appreciate them when they get them. Clearly you have not yet developed a caffiene addiction. I developed a need for coffee at age 34 and am not sure I could survive without it.


Monday 28th of September 2009

Hooray! I can't wait for Thursday now!!! My husband and I are trying to plan our honeymoon for early December and this should give us some more great tips!:D I never thought of looking for a place that gave the choice of linens or not.


Monday 28th of September 2009

I agree that when you don't have soda often, it's a treat. When we were kids, it was a big deal to have soda with popcorn and pizza.

Lauren F

Monday 28th of September 2009

Actually, iced tea isn't time consuming to make, since you're just making a bigger cup of tea. I make a mason jar's worth of liquid concentrate that keeps in the fridge. Then you make a pitcher by adding water as you like. Real tea probably isn't great for kids, but what about a decaf fruit tisane?

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