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Do kids just always need something else?

Hi Kristen! 

I am a new mom (daughter is 10 months old!) and we live a fairly frugal lifestyle, partly out of necessity and partly just because we don’t have expensive tastes. We live in a small house, so we have definitely limited baby gear and toys with our daughter. But almost every week, I think of something new that we *need*- like, vitamin d drops, more diapers, bigger socks for her, etc! We receive hand me downs from another family, but it just seems like there is always something else we need.

baby feet

Whenever you post about 5 frugal things, you often mention purchasing things at a discount- which makes me think you shop (frugally) often for your family! So, is this just how it is with kids? Always something else you need to buy?

How does your brain not just go crazy managing those small details? How do you manage all of these necessary household purchases?

Before having my daughter, we shopped for clothes for us maybe 1-2/year to fill in seasonal gaps. And maybe once a month for household items from Target. 

I would love to hear from you, but totally understand if you don’t have time! I enjoy reading your blog and think we would be friends in real life! 🙂


Kristen with a baby niece

Hey Katie! Congrats on becoming a mom.

I bet we would be friends in real life; I often think that about FG readers. What a fun (and enormous!) friend group we could have if only we all lived near each other.

Le sigh.

The internet will just have to do.

You’ve got a few questions in here, so I’ll break my answer up a bit.

Is this just how it is with kids?

The short answer is: yep.

Unlike adults, children change at pretty speedy rates.

Kristen's kids

My crew has grown an awful lot from this photo!

They outgrow clothes. And toys. And gear.

They outgrow hobbies.

Their education-related needs change.

Plus, they wear things out (their own things, and also the things you own. Ha.)

Add in a few things you want to buy for them (as opposed to needing to buy for them), and you have a life that requires quite a bit of shopping.

Of course, subsequent children don’t require quite as many purchases since you already have a stroller, crib, car seat, high chair, tricycle, bike, winter coat, and so on.

But with your first kid, you are starting from scratch!

baby hands

So, yes. Your life as a parent will definitely involve buying way more things than you did in your pre-kid life.

Obviously, you don’t need to go overboard with the buying. But even at a minimal level, children do require quite a number of purchases.

How does your brain not just go crazy managing those small details? How do you manage all of these necessary household purchases?

LISTS, baby, lists!

Writing things down on physical paper helps me so much. But if digital lists are your thing, do that instead.

When my kids were littler, I kept a paper list of things they needed.

Now that they are older, we have our handy-dandy, “I need Mom to…” list  (download the printable at that link) on the fridge, which they use to help me keep track of those things.

I need Mom to list

Another idea: if there’s something you need at regular intervals, try subscribing for deliveries. For instance, I have some Amazon Subscribe and Save items set up for some toiletry items that my girls regularly need, like Sonia’s special eye drops.

You are new to this whole mom thing, so you are still learning the ropes. After you’ve been at this for a little while, you’ll get used to thinking about what your kiddo needs for the upcoming season/school year/summer vacation, etc.

You’ll also get into a groove when it comes to obtaining these things frugally.

You’ll remember to do things like

  • hitting the school supply sales in August
  • buying those snowpants for next year (in a size up) in the March clearance at Target
  • ordering a marked-down swimsuit (in a size up!) in August
  • browsing Facebook Marketplace or eBay for items on your to-buy list

and so on.

As you get into more of a groove, this all will start to feel less overwhelming.

So, summary of my answer:

  • Yup, there’s lots of stuff to buy for kids
  • Make lists!
  • Give yourself some grace because you will get better at this with time.

Readers, what advice would you add to mine?

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Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Make lists of needs. Shop way ahead of time. Shop summer clothes in october ... In thrift stores....know where you put things.....getting a great teapot for sister does no good if you cant find it. Fill in with nice new items on sale. Budget your food money. Plant small garden of peppers cukes and tomatoes and zucchini


Monday 26th of October 2020

We have a one shoe rule for our kids while they’re small. They don’t understand matching or occasions (during Covid there are NONE!) We also keep small wardrobes for them (and ourselves) because we do laundry every other day. My 11 month old has maybe 10 outfits and the older kids maybe 7.


Monday 26th of October 2020

Join an "Everything Is Free" Facebook page (or other page where people pass things along for free! Remember once done with an item parents really, really want to pass it along - to make room for the NEXT item! I have older kids now, but I see lots of baby and kid items on our local Everything is Free site. Do not be afraid to buy or acquire used items for you children. They are young and have no idea, so please do it to keep the waste, and cost, down while you can. Once they are older they may have opinions.


Monday 26th of October 2020

Our local site that is called “Buy Nothing” and then the city name. I think it’s a whole movement


Monday 26th of October 2020

Our son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby. It is fun to watch them hunting facebook marketplace, and the base ads to find some amazing deals on clothes and equipment. The only 2 things I would buy new are a car seat and a stroller. A good stroller will last through all the babies, so for us, it was worth buying a good new one. The rest of it can be bought used.

The baby stage is the time to save-used items are plentiful and cheap. The teenage stage is the expensive one-car insurance, college, etc. Those things can't be bought used! The only thing we bought for our first baby for her 1st birthday was one book. She wouldn't have known if we hadn't bought anything. But we had a goal, which was to pay for college. THAT she does remember!

When my kids were elementary school age they knew that we did not buy much new. And if they needed a clothing item, they knew that the box with the stored clothes in the next size would come down off the shelf and we would have fun looking through it. They always asked, "Who did this come from?" The arrival of a bag of clothes from some generous friend was always an occasion that would find all the kids and I on the floor rooting through the clothes. It was like Christmas!

These are really sweet memories-even my adult kids speak with fondness of those times, and they continue to do the same as adults. I am thankful when I can pass on clothes and household items to others, knowing well the happiness it brings the recipient.


Monday 26th of October 2020

My suggestion is to limit the number of clothing items per child. My 5 yo son has 8 outfits, 4 yo daughter has 12, and 20 mon daughter has about 15. I do at least 2 loads of laundry a week between their clothes, my "mom" work clothes, and my park ranger husband. No one ever runs out of anything before laundry is done again. That's helped so much because I just do a seasonal swapout twice a year and fill in where they need something. Otherwise I don't think about it. I do give grandparents clothing sizes, usually plus one size, at holiday/birthday time. I appreciate having grandparents that will give them a need and a want!


Monday 26th of October 2020

I definitely agree with buying/procuring things ahead of time! Some things like pajamas, snow boots etc don’t really go out of style. Definitely find a few FB sale groups for kids items. I also buy things from friends who post things even if they are a few sizes too big if it’s a great deal!

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