Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Toddler Tuesday! 5 Tips to help cut costs.

What can a family do when they have to feed, dress, entertain and educate the same number of children on half the budget? Times are tough right now. Most people are tightening their proverbial belt, and most people with kids are tightening their literal belts. In other words: money is tight. Well, I'm no financial guru, but I will share with you a few toddler-based cost-cutting techniques that you can implement to reduce the over all strain on your budget.

1. Use inexpensive alternatives when planning nutritious meals for your toddler.
Bulk up on the beans, rice, pasta and potatoes. Your meals will cost much less if you can place the emphasis on these inexpensive, filling and nutritious staples. Try to make sauces in large amounts, and freeze portions for use at a later date. Frozen veggies are another less expensive way to add variety and nutrition to the meals you create. Adding more of these things as the base of your meal means you will need to add less meat and cheese. Meat and cheese are very expensive, and the less you can get away with using the better for your budget. Try to compensate for losing the iron source in the meat by adding fresh leafy greens to your dishes when possible since they also are rich in iron. Shop for fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season, because they will be cheaper, and always try to buy local produce. Locally grown produce is less expensive, and it is usually much higher quality, since it has not passed through any"middle men" or been shipped across the country.

2. Substitute found objects and home made items for buying new toys.
You may have been used to buying new toys for your baby as he grew, but now find that he is suddenly a toddler and you cannot afford to purchase new age-appropriate toys for him. Well, lucky for you Toddlers can have fun playing with just about anything. Try the old "pots and pans drum set", or a bucket of water and a cup in the back yard. You can go to your local grocery store and ask for old cardboard boxes to use for imaginative play. Re-purposing odd socks to make hand-puppets or stuffed animals is an old trick that still holds up. Though trading used toddler toys with people you've found online is a good option, if you decide to connect with parents over the Internet who are giving their toddlers old toys away, please don't go to meet them alone.

3. Help your toddlers clothes last longer.
Who needs an entirely new wardrobe every 6 to 12 months (besides various starlets and heiresses)? Your toddler, that's who. I knew that my little boy would go through clothes like crazy, but knowing it, and having to deal with how frustrating it can be to buy something that your child only wears once, are two very different things. I thanked heavens for parents who gave their old baby clothes to me in the beginning, but as my boy grew these donations seemed to dry up. I asked my friend where all her boy's old clothes had gone. She said that Toddlers are a little harder on their clothes than little ones who can't walk. Now I am in the middle of it and sure enough, my boy rips, stains and loses such a large portion of his wardrobe that I find myself faced with buying him new clothes more and more often. So, what do I do to extend the life of the clothes he has? Well for onesie undershirts, I've begun cutting the snaps off of the bottoms. He can still wear the undershirt tucked into his pants for a long time before it will be too small on the upper body portion. For pants, I've started patching knees, and letting out the elastic a little, so that his pants sit lower on his hips, then, as summer comes in I cut and hem his worn out or short pants into shorts. For shirts, I buy packs of white t-shirts and then dye them and decorate them with iron-on printouts or fabric paint. It is a bit more time-consuming, but if I have time, and no money, it helps. I have also started cutting the feet out of my boy's footy pajamas, and sewing warm socks on the ends of the legs as well. I always keep two or three nice outfits in the closet that are only for going out to nice places. As soon as we get home I change my boy out of these clothes and launder any spots right away. It makes keeping his nice clothes nice much easier if there are fewer articles to worry about.

4. Entertain your toddler with a variety of free activities.
Entertaining a toddler gets harder and harder every day, especially if you don't use T.V. very often or at all. The best way to keep your toddler entertained without having to spend money on going to expensive places like the zoo, a children's museum or an aquarium, is to have play dates with a small group of other toddlers and their parents at inexpensive or free areas like city parks, pools, nature centers and the back yards of members of the play group, which should rotate for fairness. If each parent who is part of the play group takes a turn putting together some sort of fun art project, educational or otherwise, it takes the pressure off of you to come up with something fun every single day for your little steam roller.

5. Try home remedies for the bulk of your medical care.
I know that no one wants to skimp on health care, especially for their precious children. However, the fact is that many of us are losing our health care coverage along with our jobs, and even if we have savings to help us bridge the gap we can't afford to whisk our kids off to the doctor for every little sniffle. Old wisdom such as "Starve a cold, feed a fever" still holds true today, and when you combine that with herbal remedies like garlic, and the well-known strategy of drinking a lot o f fluids, you can sometimes chase a cold out of your toddler in under 48 hours. The Internet can hold a wealth of information for a family that cannot rely on the doctor like they used to, and you can always try one or two of the many home remedies you find here (though you should always be sure to use reputable sites). Fresh fruit is packed with vitamin C, and should be given liberally to any child who begins to show signs of a fever or sore throat. Putting fresh fruit in a yogurt based smoothie is a great way to soothe the pain of a sore throat while delivering the nutrients your toddler will need to fight off the virus. Fresh steamed veggies or pureed vegetable soup works wonders for many common ailments as well. My own mother always treated earaches with a few drops of warm olive oil, though I've heard that garlic oil is even more effective if you can get some. If you ever feel that your toddler is not reacting well to a treatment of any kind, do stop at once and call your pediatrician. Getting advice over the phone from either a doctor or a nurse is also a great way to save a little money while still using a reliable source.

I hope these tips are helpful. I know that tight financial times are not easy, but with reliable knowledge of a few of these quick and easy techniques for reducing the biggest toddler-related costs, it can lighten the load on the whole family. If you know any parents who might benefit from these tips, please send them to this site. Also, remember that questions and comments are always welcome, and if you have any cost-cutting ideas for toddlers, I'd love to see them! happy parenting!

1 comment:

  1. Wow amazing tips. Thanks for sharing it. I found 3rd tip more viable. To know more tips on how to make toddler clothes last, refer Baby toddler clothes