How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

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vveat
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How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by vveat » Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:51 am

I am looking for a bit of a benchmark what is normal to spend on "stuff" for your kids at elementary school age. I have a 6 and 8 year old, and comparing them to my closest friends with similar age kids we buy much less. But my mom who is visiting from abroad for a couple of months a year says they have too much. So I got curious, checked our expenses records for last year and now am looking for better comparables. It is not about affordability, more about what is normal and won't get them spoiled. In general they will ask for stuff often, but the answer is usually "no" and they really do not persist or pout, and move on very quickly.

Below is what we spend. Caveats:
- just on "physical" things, no "experiences" - we take them occasionally to movies, museums, zoos, etc, and we do a couple of family trips each year, and there are the birthday parties for each. I am comfortable that we are OK on these, even would like to do a bit more
- excluding clothing (for the 8 year old, the younger one is 99% on hand-me-downs:-) and supplies for the sports they do.
- also excluding a few things they have bought for themselves with allowance money

For toys and electronics last year my best estimate is ~$500
- They usually get 1 big gift each on Christmas, this year both were to share - a tabletop air hockey for $40 and the complete Asterix Omnibus set of books (this is counted under books below). They also got some smaller stuff in socks and at Santa parties, which came to around $85
- During the year they get some occasional present, I went through my Mint and Amazon records and identified things for just ~$50, let's triple that to be on the safe side, so $150 for the year. We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests
- Last year I had made a deal with DD about improving something at school, she managed it and won it the right to ask for one big item. She chose to get a Chromebook, which cost $210.

Books is actually the big spend category at $900. DD is a voracious reader and DS is getting there. Between Amazon, 3 library sales and some bookstore trips our total books spend last year was $1860, and I would say half was for her. This is the one area I am seriously prone to impulse purchasing, and the one thing they persistently begging for.

How does it seem compared to what you are doing?

Thanks,
vveat

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by bloom2708 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:59 am

Your spending on kids seems quite reasonable. We have three girls (17, 13, 9) and spending can get out of control at times.

Have you thought of "Kindle Unlimited" for your book spend? For me, I still like real books at times and that is where I impulse buy. Prime reading has added a lot of "free" books to the library of potential reads. But it still tends to be limited.

With "Kindle Unlimited" you could read all you want for that one monthly price.
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by knpstr » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:03 am

vveat wrote:It is not about affordability, more about what is normal and won't get them spoiled.


I'm not yet a parent but here is my 2 cents:

First, there is no "normal". It isn't necessarily about how much or little they have, nor is it about the dollar amount. It is important that they show appreciation and gratitude for what they have. If they aren't taking care of what they have, teach them why it's important to do so. Importance of sharing, etc.

How to instill that is difficult, but in general, don't always get them what they want right when they want it, but wait for a special occasion. Or have them "earn" it. But for example, I was never allowed to spend my own money on toys.

Growing up, I got many of the toys I wanted, but rarely were they "impulse" buys. Any time I saw toy and asked for it I rarely got it, but my parents would keep track of those things.

And sometimes I didn't get what I asked for at all, because my parents determined what I wanted was total garbage and I'm sure they were right.

If your children are polite and disciplined that is all that matters, the only people claiming they are "spoiled brats" are those that are envious or jealous, and those people can't be pleased nor should you bother wasting your time associating with them.

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researcher
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by researcher » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:21 am

vveat wrote:We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests


I find it extremely bizarre that you do not buy birthday gifts for your own kids.
I find it more bizarre that you justify not buying birthday gifts because you "organize the parties."

Do you also not buy Christmas gifts if you organize having family over?

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sunny_socal
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by sunny_socal » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:49 am

researcher wrote:
vveat wrote:We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests


I find it extremely bizarre that you do not buy birthday gifts for your own kids.
I find it more bizarre that you justify not buying birthday gifts because you "organize the parties."

Do you also not buy Christmas gifts if you organize having family over?


Nothing bizarre about it. Some kids I know don't get _any_ gifts, parents instead request a donation to charity. They still have a party. It's about hanging out with your friends rather than getting more "stuff."

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Spirit Rider » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:15 am

As someone who raised two girls, how much you spend isn't nearly as important as what you spend it on. I have some observations and opinions. The opinions are just that. Parenting is a very personal decision and everybody takes a different view on it. I just think sometimes we don't take the child's viewpoint into account

vveat wrote:excluding clothing (for the 8 year old, the younger one is 99% on hand-me-downs:-)

I would seriously rethink this. Children especially girls, need their own identity. This really forms in the pre-teen years (8 -12). Hand-me-downs can be a great breeding ground of hidden resentment and you won't discover the full effect until they are adults. Imagine, you are your child who just wants their parents to love them and value them as much as their sister. You may truly do so, but the lifetime effect of them seeing the older sister get new stuff and they are always get hand-me-downs cannot be denied. I think you should start buying "new" clothes a significant minority of the time for the younger one. My youngest loved getting "new" clothes from Goodwill, Salvation Army or consignment stores. It didn't matter to her that they weren't really new. They were new to her and most importantly not her sister's hand-me-downs. Besides, she could always find more "funky" stuff there than at normal stores (she always marched to a different drummer). The percentage of new clothes will likely need rise as they become teenagers. Especially, the later teenage years. Imagine the following; "Wasn't that you sister's (insert item of clothing)." Oh, the mortification of it all. However, this can be a life lesson. When they start working, make them allocate a percentage of their budget for their clothes, makeup, etc...

We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests

This sounds more like an accounting trade-off, than a parenting decision. Here again, what message does that send to them and what will be more important as time goes by, you are saying it in front of their friends. The presents don't have to be expensive, just something they and their friends can witness.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:35 am

Just on stuff? Maybe $150 total for the year each, for our 5 and 2yr olds. For Christmas our 5yr old received a large box of legos and clothes, our 2yr old got a strider bike and helmet, and they got an Amazon fire tablet to share. We just had our 5yr old's birthday party Thursday, she got more legos from us. We had ~50 people at our house between family and neighbors, we specifically put on the invitation not to bring presents, and of course virtually everybody showed up with presents. Friday morning my daughter woke up and the first thing she said is "Dad, where are we supposed to put all those toys?" Exactly. One of our chores this weekend is to go through all of her toys and take a load to our local Goodwill.

Fact of the matter is, none of this stuff will ever be played with, it just takes up space. My daughter prefers bugs and rocks. We have realized that trying to explain this concept to the grandparents is pointless and because they live so close and visit so often, we can't just donate the stuff they gift our kids. Honestly, it is super annoying. My 2yr old is obsessed with Monkeys, so for Christmas my in-laws got him a huge monkey rocking horse thing, which he has played with exactly 0 times. But, at the birthday party Thursday, a neighborhood kid did take the opportunity to push it down our stairs so now we have a massive hole in our wall.

Maybe our kids are outliers, or it is their age, but they never ask for toys. Our daughter is in gymnastics and jiu jitsu, we have family passes to the local museums, are taking bike rides or hiking at least twice a week when it isn't snowing, and playing with the neighborhood kids outside.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by DaftInvestor » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:40 am

Your spending seems very reasonable to me. We used to spend far more on Christmas - probably went way overboard - lots of money on toys and things during Christmas but we do have fond memories (along with an attic full of toys).

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by livesoft » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:43 am

Books are free from the library. Maybe buy 2 books a year such as Field Guide to Birds, you know: reference books that are good to have around.

I've mentioned many how we got lots of free clothes from friends and family.

As for electronics, my son used his raffle tickets to win a Playstation. He saved his allowance for other stuff.

We bought them $400 laptops for high school work.

We've bought a couple of bikes, too. Some fishing gear. Sports gear when they played sports.

I suspect we spent less than $2,000 a year on clothes and stuff for 2 kids.
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Kenkat
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Kenkat » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:44 am

Do you have a good library system where you live? I get all my books from the local library; if you are looking for a specific book, you can put a hold on it on their website and they will send it to my local branch to be picked up. They pretty much have nearly every book I have ever wanted.

We typically spent around $250-300 each on Christmas and around $75-100 each on birthdays for our kids as they were growing up. Around 10, we started giving them $20 / month allowance for things that they wanted or to save. That was pretty much it for non-essentials (not including items like clothing, school supplies, etc.).
Last edited by Kenkat on Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Isabelle77 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:45 am

Ours are 10 & 12 and we probably spend a little less than you do on actual stuff but your amounts seem reasonable. We spend less now on stuff than we did when they were younger. Our kids earn an allowance (if they complete their chores and keep their grades up) so we tell them if they would like something to save for it. The 12yr old will occasionally buy herself things like lip gloss or hair bows, the 10yr old hoards his money and will be richer than all of us.

Now ask me what we spend on extracurricular stuff, teams, summer camp, and private school...a fortune.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by bottlecap » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:49 am

We spend little, like you, and our kids still have far too much. Grandparent buy the stuff and they get it for birthdays and such. We pay for the activities, which is more expensive.

JT

delamer
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by delamer » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:57 am

You certainly want to encourage the habit of reading in your kids, but why not arrange a weekly or bi-weekly trip to the local library to satisfy your kids' reading habits instead of buying them books? If the area you live in has a good library system, you also can request books from other branches and download e-books.

You spoil kids by not setting standards for them, not holding them accountable for their behavior, and not modeling good habits and behavior yourself. The quantity of toys, books, electonics, or clothes they have isn't important. An example - we bought smart phones for our (then teenage) kids and paid for the data plans, but made it clear that if they lost or broke their phones that they'd be responsible for replacing them. And when they did (seems like inevitably) break their phones, they paid for the replacements.

One caveat -- we could afford to buy the smart phones out of our discretionary funds. We never bought anything for our kids that would have interfered with funding our long-term financial goals.

The no-birthday gift stuff seems odd, but to each their own. Your kids' friends are not going to care or notice what -- if anything -- you gave them for their birthdays.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by KlangFool » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:59 am

OP,

You can buy books from better world books with free shipping worldwide and you will do 3 charities at the same time.

1) Better World Book sell books for charity like GoodWill, library and so on.

2) Better World Book donate all earnings to Literacy for Africa. Aka, it is a charity too.

3) It recycles books instead of letting books go into landfill.

https://www.betterworldbooks.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_World_Books
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vveat
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by vveat » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:38 am

Spirit Rider wrote:
vveat wrote:excluding clothing (for the 8 year old, the younger one is 99% on hand-me-downs:-)

I would seriously rethink this. Children especially girls, need their own identity. This really forms in the pre-teen years (8 -12). Hand-me-downs can be a great breeding ground of hidden resentment and you won't discover the full effect until they are adults. Imagine, you are your child who just wants their parents to love them and value them as much as their sister.



OP here, apologies the original post was not clear. I have a daughter and a son, the son gets the hand-me-downs, but they are not from his sister. As it happens in our circle of friends the girls are similar age, so not much opportunity for passing on clothing. But several families have much older sons, so we have literally a big box of clothes for each year of age (each season too), to last him until he is 10 or so. They are new to him, a lot are good quality or branded, so we haven't had any issues and frankly I don't remember his asking for a new piece of clothing aside from 1 T-shirt in a souvenir store.

And to be very clear - I do buy underwear, bathing suits and such for him, I am not that cheap :beer

vveat
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by vveat » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:45 am

Thanks for the opinions so far. It really surprised me that people were surprised that we don't buy them birthday presents. I guess it may seem odd, but given that they get so many at one time (I even hold them off from opening most, so they open them throughout the year) I find it difficult to come up with anything additional they may like. And also the joy of getting one extra present will be diminished among the pile of others.

Well, I'll give it a thought. The funny thing is my best friend had a similar (or opposite?) experience recently. They have a much doted on daughter, age between mine, her birthday is almost exactly on Christmas, so they usually do the party in January. She got literally 15-20 presents on Christmas and just after (on a trip with friends who brought gifts, others who were not there like us sent something in advance to add to the pile), her mom and dad bought several ones. Then they organized the party for her whole class and other friends in January, I know it cost them $700 or so, and she got another pile. And next day her mom (my friend) complained to me that her daughter expressed high disappointment that she didn't get a present from her parents too. Well, I love the kid, but I took this as a sign of spoiling. Now reading some of your reactions I am starting to wonder if I am not right, and the kid still needed that extra special gift as well.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by delamer » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:52 am

vveat wrote:
Spirit Rider wrote:
vveat wrote:excluding clothing (for the 8 year old, the younger one is 99% on hand-me-downs:-)

I would seriously rethink this. Children especially girls, need their own identity. This really forms in the pre-teen years (8 -12). Hand-me-downs can be a great breeding ground of hidden resentment and you won't discover the full effect until they are adults. Imagine, you are your child who just wants their parents to love them and value them as much as their sister.



OP here, apologies the original post was not clear. I have a daughter and a son, the son gets the hand-me-downs, but they are not from his sister. As it happens in our circle of friends the girls are similar age, so not much opportunity for passing on clothing. But several families have much older sons, so we have literally a big box of clothes for each year of age (each season too), to last him until he is 10 or so. They are new to him, a lot are good quality or branded, so we haven't had any issues and frankly I don't remember his asking for a new piece of clothing aside from 1 T-shirt in a souvenir store.

And to be very clear - I do buy underwear, bathing suits and such for him, I am not that cheap :beer


My kids are the same gender, and so the younger one got a lot of hand-me-downs in good condition. At some point (middle school age, if memory serves), the younger one began to object and so we started buying new clothes for the younger.

Moral of the story -- enjoy the acceptance and no-cost of hand-me-downs as long as you can.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by corysold » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:56 am

I'd agree that the "what" and "how often" is more important than the "how much". I don't see any issue with buying a $400 Playstation, but would have concern with buying a $4 item every time you went to the store for instance.

We also don't buy our kids gifts for birthdays. Between grandparents, aunts/uncles and a friend party, they get plenty of things.

We use hand me downs almost exclusively. We've gotten some from family with older nephews for the boys and some from prior students of my wife for the girls. Heck, half of the stuff my kids have are nicer brands than I'd buy for myself. We will buy a suit for first communion, or a nice outfit for Easter or something, otherwise, it if virtually all preworn. My kids don't seem to care. Maybe they will when they get older.
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:57 am

vveat wrote:
Spirit Rider wrote:
vveat wrote:excluding clothing (for the 8 year old, the younger one is 99% on hand-me-downs:-)

I would seriously rethink this. Children especially girls, need their own identity. This really forms in the pre-teen years (8 -12). Hand-me-downs can be a great breeding ground of hidden resentment and you won't discover the full effect until they are adults. Imagine, you are your child who just wants their parents to love them and value them as much as their sister.



OP here, apologies the original post was not clear. I have a daughter and a son, the son gets the hand-me-downs, but they are not from his sister. As it happens in our circle of friends the girls are similar age, so not much opportunity for passing on clothing. But several families have much older sons, so we have literally a big box of clothes for each year of age (each season too), to last him until he is 10 or so. They are new to him, a lot are good quality or branded, so we haven't had any issues and frankly I don't remember his asking for a new piece of clothing aside from 1 T-shirt in a souvenir store.

And to be very clear - I do buy underwear, bathing suits and such for him, I am not that cheap :beer


Perhaps that is because he is not telling you he'd like a new clothing item that you purchased specifically for him. I have hand me downs for my son, but I also purchase (well, my wife does :wink: ) new clothing for him as well. What would it cost you to purchase one item for him that is not underwear, socks, bathing suits, a hat, etc?

BTW, your spending for children does not appear to be out of line, I know what spoiled is as I had relatives my age growing up that had every new toy under the sun, went to every "new in place" for kids, had cool clothing, video games, frequently ate out for dinner. That does not sound like what you are doing at all.
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by mrsytf » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:29 pm

What's important is not how much or what, but saying no from time to time.

My parents gave us nothing..not because they didn't have...they just didn't think toys and such were necessary. They grew up poor. Hence no toys for birthday, Xmas or really ever. The few toys I had were from relatives. I grew up bitter and remember feeling disappointed and resentful many times.

My husband got gifts birthdays and Xmas and that's it. And he was happy.

As a consequence I spoiled my kids rotten the first few years of their lives to my husband's chagrin. As expected the kids became unbearable- demanding things from stores constantly and throwing a hissy fit if they didn't get what they want. I learned my lesson and corrected it. Now they are like your kids- they make few requests outside of holidays. I say no most of the time- explaining that they have 3 batmans already or the item is expensive or inappropriate. If it seems like a good idea or useful gift I usually say let's wait till bday or Xmas. And they for the most part are cool with it. No tantrums screams or meltdowns. And they are learning delayed gratification andto be grateful.

I once knew someone who spent $2000 on his daughter for her 12th bday. But it was a one time thing and she is absolutely delightful now 18 year old. So amount is not as important as frequency and limits IMO.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by *3!4!/5! » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:02 pm

researcher wrote:
vveat wrote:We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests


I find it extremely bizarre that you do not buy birthday gifts for your own kids.
I find it more bizarre that you justify not buying birthday gifts because you "organize the parties."

Do you also not buy Christmas gifts if you organize having family over?


I've never done a budget. We have probably bought a lot of "stuff" for our kids over the years, e.g. toys, but it's not necessarily a lot of money, just a lot of "stuff" (and some experiences too). Toys can be cheap, and some are educational too.

But I really wanted to reply to this post. Our children do not get any gifts on their birthdays, not from us nor anyone else. (And we don't do christmas or other holidays like that.) There is simply no need for any gift giving/receiving for any occasion ever. The whole gift culture is a net negative for society.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by researcher » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:26 pm

*3!4!/5! wrote:Our children do not get any gifts on their birthdays, not from us nor anyone else. (And we don't do christmas or other holidays like that.) There is simply no need for any gift giving/receiving for any occasion ever. The whole gift culture is a net negative for society.


But you are missing a key point...
The OP wants his kids to receive gifts, he just doesn't want to buy them. Instead, he "organizes parties" so that other people are the one's buying the gifts.

researcher
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by researcher » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:43 pm

sunny_socal wrote:Nothing bizarre about it. Some kids I know don't get _any_ gifts, parents instead request a donation to charity. They still have a party. It's about hanging out with your friends rather than getting more "stuff."

But the OP explicitly wants/expects his kids to receive gifts, just not from him. Instead, he organizes a party so other people will buy the gifts.

I do understand your point. I am a borderline minimalist who doesn't overindulge on gifting "stuff." However, it seems like a stretch for a 3 year old to understand that their "gifts" were charitable donations. You can't even buy the poor kid a $3 book for his birthday?

Such occasions can include small/meaningful/educational gifts without being about accumulating mountains of crap.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by sleepwell » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:16 pm

This is just my opinion, but I think it is great that you spend so much on books for your children. Yes, you can use the library. Yes, you can purchase Kindle Unlimited. And yes, you can buy books at garage sales, from book sales, from BetterWorld books, etc., to save on costs. But by buying books as an impulse, you send the message to your children that reading is important, and that is a good thing. Children who enjoy reading tend to have better verbal and writing skills and are generally successful in school. And years later one of your children just might pull out a worn copy of a favorite book to read to his or her own child, and say "My dad/mom used to read this to me."

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by HIinvestor » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:28 am

It sounds like your spending on your kids works for you and your family. We borrow more books form the library and buy fewer books, but it's all personal taste.

One thing we did that worked well for us was to give our kids some spending money every time we went on a vacation. They could use it as they preferred with few limitations, to save, but edible treats, but momentos. The rule was no nagging--once it was spent, that was it. We told them the sum ($5/day of the trip per kid) at the beginning of the trip and reminded them of no nagging and when it was spent that was it. It worked well to teach them to figure out what they REALLY wanted to spend THEIR money on. It also eliminated begging and whining. They were in grade school when we started this.

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randomizer
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by randomizer » Sun Mar 05, 2017 5:31 am

Haven't done the math but I think we spend a bit less than you do. Your figures are not unreasonable though.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by scubadiver » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:20 am

researcher wrote:
vveat wrote:We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests


I find it extremely bizarre that you do not buy birthday gifts for your own kids.
I find it more bizarre that you justify not buying birthday gifts because you "organize the parties."

Do you also not buy Christmas gifts if you organize having family over?


Actually, this is not unusual at all.

Last year we didn't buy birthday presents for our daughters other than funding their b-day parties. We were very transparent about that with them and explained that their present was the b-day party.

We also only got them one Christmas present each.

If the grandparents were not spoiling them rotten, I suppose I might feel guilty. As it is, my MIL just bought a $400 pool pass for the family this summer. So, no, we don't buy a lot of presents for the kids. We do give them opportunities to earn some money and buy stuff for themselves. Between that and the rolling wish list they have on amazon (for the grandparents to shop from), the kids are doing pretty well.

EDIT: We are extremely fortunate with grandparents who dote on our kids to the point of excess. Even if that were not the case though, there is absolutely no harm with a spartan level of gift giving. To answer the OP's question, we spend very little on our kids maybe $2K per year for swim lessons and a few other odds and ends, but that's it.

researcher
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by researcher » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:42 am

scubadiver wrote:Actually, this is not unusual at all.

Last year we didn't buy birthday presents for our daughters other than funding their b-day parties. We were very transparent about that with them and explained that their present was the b-day party.

EDIT: We are extremely fortunate with grandparents who dote on our kids to the point of excess. Even if that were not the case though, there is absolutely no harm with a spartan level of gift giving

How old are your daughters, and what was involved in "funding their b-day parties?"

Seems odd to tell a 6 year old (age of the OP's kid) that their present is a pack of paper plates/cups, some cheap decorations, and a cake.

I'm with you on Spartan levels of gift giving. We absolutely don't go overboard and buy minimal amounts of stuff.
However, we will at least buy a $3 book or an inexpensive gift for our young children to open on their birthday.

jjface
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by jjface » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:58 am

Nooo don't do ebooks.

Do spend what you like on proper books. We spend a lot too and it is worth every penny.

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scubadiver
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by scubadiver » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:01 am

researcher wrote:Seems odd to tell a 6 year old (age of the OP's kid) that their present is a pack of paper plates/cups, some cheap decorations, and a cake.


Yes, and that's exactly how we said it to them too, "You're getting some paper plates, cups and cheap decorations..." I wanted to add a "and you're going to like it!" for effect, but my wife talked me down.

Since you asked, they're 4 and 8 years old, and I sleep easy at night knowing they will grow up with fond memories of all the disposable dinning ware we purchased for them on their birthdays.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by bluejello » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:26 am

*3!4!/5! wrote:But I really wanted to reply to this post. Our children do not get any gifts on their birthdays, not from us nor anyone else. (And we don't do christmas or other holidays like that.) There is simply no need for any gift giving/receiving for any occasion ever. The whole gift culture is a net negative for society.


+1

This whole idea that kids "need" a gift on their birthdays or else they won't feel loved is kind of ridiculous. What about the other 364 days of snuggles, hugs and kisses, bedtime stories, going to the park, doing fun activities, making them their favorite foods, laughing together, etc. etc.? Actually make that 365 since all those things happen on their birthday too. Do you really think that your kids will be traumatized just because they didn't get to unwrap some plastic gadget once a year?

I very rarely got birthday gifts as a child. I do remember being given a dictionary for my 10th birthday. My husband was raised the same way. We both turned out very well and have extremely close, loving relationships with our families.

On the other hand, buying books for your kids is always a good idea. As long as you can easily afford it buy all the books you want.
Last edited by bluejello on Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by lazydavid » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:27 am

sunny_socal wrote:
researcher wrote:
vveat wrote:We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests


I find it extremely bizarre that you do not buy birthday gifts for your own kids.
I find it more bizarre that you justify not buying birthday gifts because you "organize the parties."

Do you also not buy Christmas gifts if you organize having family over?


Nothing bizarre about it. Some kids I know don't get _any_ gifts, parents instead request a donation to charity. They still have a party. It's about hanging out with your friends rather than getting more "stuff."


It sounds like you're referring to no gifts from the guests, which is a way to help people avoid feeling obligated. This is the opposite. The parents do not give birthday presents to their own children. Leaving value judgements out of it, this is extremely unusual.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by researcher » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:35 am

bluejello wrote:
*3!4!/5! wrote:But I really wanted to reply to this post. Our children do not get any gifts on their birthdays, not from us nor anyone else. (And we don't do christmas or other holidays like that.) There is simply no need for any gift giving/receiving for any occasion ever. The whole gift culture is a net negative for society.

+1

This whole idea that kids "need" a gift on their birthdays or else they won't feel loved is kind of ridiculous. Do you really think that your kids will be traumatized just because they didn't get to unwrap some plastic gadget once a year?

On the other hand, buying books for your kids is always a good idea. As long as you can easily afford it buy all the books you want.

Festivus for the rest of us!

My only point is...why can't you take a few of those books, wrap them up in some cheap paper, and tell your child "Happy birthday."
It's OK to "buy all of the books you want," just as long as you don't give them to your kids as birthday presents?

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Rupert » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:00 pm

lazydavid wrote:
sunny_socal wrote:
researcher wrote:
vveat wrote:We don't buy them birthday gifts since we organize the parties and they get presents from the guests


I find it extremely bizarre that you do not buy birthday gifts for your own kids.
I find it more bizarre that you justify not buying birthday gifts because you "organize the parties."

Do you also not buy Christmas gifts if you organize having family over?


Nothing bizarre about it. Some kids I know don't get _any_ gifts, parents instead request a donation to charity. They still have a party. It's about hanging out with your friends rather than getting more "stuff."


It sounds like you're referring to no gifts from the guests, which is a way to help people avoid feeling obligated. This is the opposite. The parents do not give birthday presents to their own children. Leaving value judgements out of it, this is extremely unusual.


It is not extremely unusual in my community. Birthday parties today are usually held at some sort of event space (jumpy house place, trampoline place, museum, etc.) that has to be rented. And parents are expected to buy small gifts for each kid who attends the party. It's very expensive (and nuts, IMHO, but it's the prevailing culture at the moment). After shelling out hundreds of dollars for all that, you expect parents to also buy their kids gifts just so the kids can have the pleasure of unwrapping them? The party is the gift in my household.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by scubadiver » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:35 pm

Rupert wrote:It is not extremely unusual in my community. Birthday parties today are usually held at some sort of event space (jumpy house place, trampoline place, museum, etc.). And parents are expected to buy small gifts for each kid who attends the party. It's very expensive (and nuts, IMHO). After shelling out hundreds of dollars for all that, you expect parents to also buy their kids gifts just so the kids can have the pleasure of unwrapping them? The party is the gift in my household.

^^This

Of course, there's nothing wrong (or unusual) about hosting a party AND buying a gift. It's all a matter of personal choice and parenting preference, we just choose not too. Again, the nearly weekly delivery of "care packages" from the grandparents makes this an easy choice for us, but I don't know that we would do things differently were that not the case.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by researcher » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:58 pm

scubadiver wrote:
Rupert wrote:It is not extremely unusual in my community. Birthday parties today are usually held at some sort of event space (jumpy house place, trampoline place, museum, etc.). And parents are expected to buy small gifts for each kid who attends the party. It's very expensive (and nuts, IMHO). After shelling out hundreds of dollars for all that, you expect parents to also buy their kids gifts just so the kids can have the pleasure of unwrapping them? The party is the gift in my household.

^^This

Of course, there's nothing wrong (or unusual) about hosting a party AND buying a gift. It's all a matter of personal choice and parenting preference, we just choose not too. Again, the nearly weekly delivery of "care packages" from the grandparents makes this an easy choice for us, but I don't know that we would do things differently were that not the case.


You didn't address my earlier question. You mentioned that "funding their b-day parties" was their only gift from you.

What did their parties consist of and how much did you spend on them?

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by scubadiver » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:16 pm

researcher wrote: You didn't address my earlier question. You mentioned that "funding their b-day parties" was their only gift from you.

What did their parties consist of and how much did you spend on them?

Am I under cross examination?

Truth: I don't remember the dollar amounts. Our 4-year old's party was at Chuck e Cheese. For our 8 year old we hosted it at a local water park. As a desperate act of cheap parenting, we hosted this as a joint birthday party with her best friend and split the cost with her friend's parents. Still didn't get her a gift. :)
Last edited by scubadiver on Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by dgm » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:23 pm

vveat wrote:Books is actually the big spend category at $900. DD is a voracious reader and DS is getting there. Between Amazon, 3 library sales and some bookstore trips our total books spend last year was $1860, and I would say half was for her. This is the one area I am seriously prone to impulse purchasing, and the one thing they persistently begging for.


Very easy way to cut this down would be to utilize the library instead. Most older books are available at the library or through inter-library loan. They may complain the latest xyz book isn't there but there are plenty of other books to explore. At minimum just by buying books that aren't in the library you can cut down on a lot here.

somewhere down the line i started buying books instead of going to the library and recently re-discovered libraries. i don't remember why i stopped going.
Last edited by dgm on Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Chris001122 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:24 pm

you are spending much less than us on clothes and trips but way way more on books.

My kids' books are usually (1) public library (we pay for it, why not use it?) (2) school library (3) free classics through Amazon on project gutenberg.

I'd say nice job and you could loosen up a bit, although we started late as parents and have a bit more money at this stage than most parents of 9 and 11 year olds.
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Maybe a bit more than you listed

Post by beattherush » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:05 pm

We're probably at around $1000 a kid per year. B8 and G7. That's Christmas, birthday, small items for long plane rides, all in. Mostly toys and electronics. Some books as they both like to buy their favorites, but we tend to pull twenty books a week out of our excellent local library.

Sports equipment, musical instruments, and bicycles are parental expenses. If the kids can convince us something is educational, we'll consider an out-of-cycle purchase. But they need to pitch us on it and it needs to be good. We make them prepare and deliver a presentation.

They also receive an allowance equal to their age, with $1 held for end-of-year charitable donation and $1 to the savings account (though we are moving them to brokerage accounts this summer). So if they want something else besides holiday gifts, that's their problem. We also have a few "extra earnings" chores available. We have no restrictions on what they can buy other than safety or age-ratings oversight. It's their money. Sometimes they save it, sometimes they spend it. A decent amount ends up going to app purchases, though our oldest is getting wise to that game. Both kids have (hand me down) iPads and iPhones.

Grandma and Grandpa are nearby, and a source of other toys as grandparents tend to be.

We've been known to incent major academic projects (semester-long sorts of things), but that's rare.

One other item, reading through the thread: birthday parties tend to run about $500, which is what it will run to host a passel of kids at Chuck E. Cheese etc.. While we choose to also give our kids birthday presents, the OP is right that the birthday party can be a significant gift as well. Sure, you could host at home. But when in Rome.... I'm not defending the practice, but it's entirely normal in many communities. If you look at this as a "stuff" expense, add $1000 a kid, half for their birthday and half for the gifts given when attending other similar events. Yet another example of how the home you pick has costs well beyond the value of the home itself.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by 10YearPlan » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:28 pm

I must say, Bogleheads has a tendency to reveal topics that I never thought to be controversial in any way and make me stop to think about my "position". A few weeks ago it was tipping. Now this. It's really fascinating.

Regarding gift-giving to kids, I would say we are middle of the road compared to our friends and neighbors. By Boglehead standards, I am certain we spend too much on our kids. And I am okay with that. So as long as they don't act entitled; we're good. We tend to spoil them a little at Christmas and their birthdays, and may buy smaller gifts for other occasions such as Valentine's Day and Easter. I love to give and receive gifts, and would never even consider not giving gifts. Sure, kids don't NEED gifts, but to me they are an expression of love and they happen to create a lot of joy for them and for me in the process. In between occasions, we don't buy a whole lot of stuff. For those who don't give gifts, I am curious: when you give your kid a bicycle, how was that done to ensure it is not construed as a gift?

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Tamarind » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:06 pm

I'm going to stay away from the birthday present subthread, but just popping in to note that your spending total doesn't seem unreasonable, and physical books are great! I didn't have a lot of extraneous things growing up, but I deeply valued my collection of books.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by SheReadsHere719 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:44 pm

vveat wrote:In general they will ask for stuff often, but the answer is usually "no" and they really do not persist or pout, and move on very quickly.
.....

Books is actually the big spend category at $900. DD is a voracious reader and DS is getting there. Between Amazon, 3 library sales and some bookstore trips our total books spend last year was $1860, and I would say half was for her. This is the one area I am seriously prone to impulse purchasing, and the one thing they persistently begging for.



It's great that books are your biggest spending category. My parents were the same way, and raised 2 life-long learners and readers. You can play the nickle-and-dime game (discounted Amazon or B&N cards, buying used books on Half.com), but sounds like you're already doing really well.

I also think your earlier sentence is the most informative. You've clearly set a standard with your children that you won't waiver on your decisions, and raised them such that they are not fixated on material things. Without nitpicking your numbers, I'd say you're on your way to success.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by serbeer » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:01 pm

I completely understand and like the fact that your kids read a lot. But I am really curios why you do not use libraries most of the time? Could it be that you don not have good libraries where you live?

I have 4 or 5 libraries within 5 mi radious, and 5 more on my way home from work. I take my kids, which are also 6 and 8 and just starting to enjoy books to library nearly every weekend now, and they pick around 10-15 books that they read (in case of my older kid) or browse (younger one) over the course of the week, and then I just return them.

Also, as someone suggested above, Kindle Unlimited seems to be a good choice, at just $10 per month, and if you register both kids devices to the same account, they can share books too. Any reasons you have not looked into it?

As far as spending on kids goes, this is very individual thing. We buy no electronics for them beyond $30 Android tables they had for several years now and play games on, but sign them up for language lessons, tae-kwon-do lessons, swimming lessons, and very nice summer camp. We do buy b-day toys and Christmas gifts toys, mostly lego and likes, but return or re-gift about 50% of the ones people bring.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by davebo » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:23 pm

If I had to guess, we spent around $1K per kid on "stuff" throughout the year. We still accumulate a lot of stuff because my kids have a lot of aunts/uncles and then the grandparents of course.

With regard to the b-day party, we do an outside birthday party at the sports-type place or gymnastic place. I have 3 kids and 2 of them are twins, so we can get away with 2 parties for all 3 kids. For b-days, we usually just buy them one present and then leave the rest to the aunts/uncles.

With regard to the kids parties, we tell everyone that they don't have to give a present but if they do, we'll donate it to the local children's hospital. Most people spend like $20 and you end up with a ton of junky little presents that your kids don't want or need.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by halfnine » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:55 pm

10YearPlan wrote:... For those who don't give gifts, I am curious: when you give your kid a bicycle, how was that done to ensure it is not construed as a gift?....


We buy the bike that is the next size up before they need it. Our eldest isn't ready for it yet but knows it's there and even helped unpack the box and put it among the other bikes. The kid also knows it isn't their bike but part of the family's array of bikes. Eventually, one day a kid of ours will decide they are big enough or think they are ready to ride it. They can do this at any time. We let them decide. They will soon realize they are either ready for it or not. If they are not they'll just put it back and wait until they are.

We do this with everything...toys, books, games, etc. Throughout the year we buy beyond our kids current abilities and put the items on the shelf. They know they are there. They unwrap the boxes when they come in and they see them on the shelves everyday. When they think they are ready they take them down and give them a go.

And, like a few others here, we don't buy gifts for our children's birthdays or Christmas. If they want anything they have an allowance and can spend their own money.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by vveat » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:29 pm

serbeer wrote:I completely understand and like the fact that your kids read a lot. But I am really curios why you do not use libraries most of the time? Could it be that you don not have good libraries where you live?



Original OP here. I was (am) so fascinated by the birthday gifts discussion that I forgot to reply to the several people who mentioned libraries. Our spending on books is on top of library stuff. We actually have 2 very good local libraries (we live in a double municipality) - one is closer and has a better adult section, the other has an off the charts awesome children section. In the closer one they know us by name. Also my daughter takes 3 books a week from her school library and my son takes 1 from him (he is K). Right now at home between the 3 of us (me, daughter and son) we have 15 library books. (My husband is a reader too, but mostly non-fiction. His nightstand right now has a big pile of sailing, homebrewing and psychology books)

Books are a big thing for us. When we came to the US with just 2 suitcases basic necessities, the very second day I bought my first book here (I couldn't resist a B&N, we don't have bookstores like that in my native country :happy ). And when I went to work for 3 months abroad, I came back with a suitcase full of books. We currently have ~1700 books at home (not huge for some but we started from 0 seventeen years ago, and we also donate regularly for library sales)

Libraries work especially to test books we are not sure we'll like, but we all like to reread a lot, so it makes sense for us to buy and reuse. Right now my daughter takes out of the library a Percy Jackson book probably every week, so I think we are headed towards buying the full series. And a couple of weeks ago she read "The Thief" from the library and loved it so much she begged me to get it for her - so I bought directly all 4 books of the series. And Newbery books and such are a direct buy most of the time.

Lastly, we have a Kindle, but it's not such fun to read electronically, it just isn't. I use it mostly when I travel. On our last trip with the kids I got for my daughter a few electronic books on it, to downsize the luggage, and she read them, but didn't ask for the device again to reread.

Anyway, this is not one category we are looking to save, especially now that we can easily afford it :beer

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Toons
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by Toons » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:41 pm

Very reasonable.
When our son was living with us,
We spent very little on "stuff".
We looked around and knew that more stuff,
did not equate to contentment..
He is on his own now..
Things turned out pretty good.
Going to college,,fast tracking in the Navy.
The other day I told him I was going to give him a couple thousand dollars.
He said "for what" :happy .
I said because you are my Son,,,enjoy,treat yourself.
I think he sent it to Vanguard :happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

vveat
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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by vveat » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:47 pm

scubadiver wrote:
researcher wrote: You didn't address my earlier question. You mentioned that "funding their b-day parties" was their only gift from you.

What did their parties consist of and how much did you spend on them?

Am I under cross examination?

Truth: I don't remember the dollar amounts. Our 4-year old's party was at Chuck e Cheese. For our 8 year old we hosted it at a local water park. As a desperate act of cheap parenting, we hosted this as a joint birthday party with her best friend and split the cost with her friend's parents. Still didn't get her a gift. :)



OP here. I'll play.

My 6 year old had his party in January. I booked a "bouncy" place (like Pump-it-Up) for 12 guests - his school friends. And we had a second party at home for the family friends, so another 11 kids. I baked and decorated 2 cakes - a Lionguard one and a Moana one (my hobby is cake decorating, I put in the effort and the cakes look very professional). Also prepared gift bags for all kids - the school friends each got a Lionguard book, and the family friends got Hawaii-themed souvenirs (we just came back from a Hawaii trip in December). I paid $505 for the party place, the gift bags cost me around $70, the cake and home party probably around $100 (fondant is expensive:-). So around $700.

My daughter last year has 3 smaller "events". On her 8th birthday we went to a sushi place nearby and celebrated as a family. Then we had a small sleepover party for 4 of her friends, the cost was mostly just the cake. But then I took her, with her brother and 2 of her closest friends, to a water park for 2 days, which cost us $460 (I love Mint - so many things you can check easily a year later:-). So probably $550 in total.
The year before she asked for a special themed party, which we hosted at home, but I literally put maybe 50 hours in preparing the theme - cheaper but very tiring.

Your comments made me feel like I am not spending money myself but asking other people to spend on my kids. The guests have fun, my kids appreciate the effort going into the parties. I guess I could ask for charity donations in lieu of presents, but this is just not done at the other parties we are invited to, and I don't want to stand out.

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Re: How much do you spend on "stuff" for kids?

Post by feh » Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:36 pm

vveat wrote:Books is actually the big spend category at $900. DD is a voracious reader and DS is getting there. Between Amazon, 3 library sales and some bookstore trips our total books spend last year was $1860, and I would say half was for her. This is the one area I am seriously prone to impulse purchasing, and the one thing they persistently begging for.


Get a library card.

We read to our son a great deal as a child. Quickly discovered the local public library to avoid going broke.

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