With Memorial Day serving as the unofficial kickoff of summer and today’s temperature starting in the low 50s and nearing 90 by the end of the day, I figure now is as good a time as any to start this.
But what exactly am I starting?
My plan is to chronicle the summer spending that we do surrounding our son. This series isn’t going to end to debate of whether or not kids are expensive. (They are.) This series also isn’t going to commemorate a no-spend summer. (I have the hotel receipts to prove otherwise.)
Instead, it’s going to be a list of all the things we buy our boy. Needs, wants, and impulse buys? They’re all included.
Why do this? It’s entirely selfish. I’m set on keeping this spending diary for several reasons:
- I’m a financial voyeur. I love to know what people spend and why.
- I talk a lot about how I resist buying my son things. While that’s true, this money diary is going to be a much more accurate reflection of real life.
- I’m hoping that when the dust settles, I’ll know several things: how much we spent, when we found other ways to get things (no, not stealing), and how we spent our time.
RELATED POST: My Plan to Spend a Little Less This Summer
Here’s how week 1 went down.
Toddler Summer Money Diary Week 1
$1.75 – Two pairs of new shorts
I am so frugal, aren’t I? Actually, I know a lot of you are probably shaking your head at me for buying these shorts new. After all, I’ve seen the light and adore hand-me-downs.
But HP was sagging so bad in his other shorts, I thought we were going to have to create suspenders. I’m talking face-full-of-mulch-at-the-playground sagging pants hazard. So we knew one particular brand fit him well, and I used a $10 Kohl’s cash voucher to pick up two more pairs. Now, when he falls at the park, it’ll just be due to genetics (guilty!), not clothes.
$4.79 – Paw Patrol Band-Aids
Why, yes, dear reader. I did buy my son Band-Aids. Actual Band-Aids, not store-brand. With the little copyright trademarked pups that increased the cost even more than the fact that I was shopping at Walgreens sans coupon. You see, this was a moment of pure desperation.
This has been The Summer of Bloody Knees…and it isn’t even officially summer. After a particularly gruesome tumble, I knew we were in need of Neosporin. I also knew we had the off-brand version of the goop, but had nothing to hold said ointment in place. So, we stopped at Walgreens on the way home.
Everything went great. HP plucked the box off the shelf excitedly. He held it up to his hurt knees. He jumped, he laughed, he seemed to have completely forgotten that not five minutes earlier he was yodeling, “BooBoo, Doc, Fix! BooBoo, Doc, Fix!” I even swiped my card before I could finish calculating the cost per Band-Aid in my head.
We were home in a blink. And that’s where it all went wrong. You see, I have given birth to the only child in the history of ever who hates stickers. Let me say it again. My toddler hates stickers. I don’t just mean that he is particular about them. I mean that he will look at you like you ate his last M&M, even if you are the kind-hearted lady at Trader Joe’s who hands him a roll of chocolate scratch-and-sniff ones.
And this toddler? Well, he thinks Band-Aids are a lot like stickers.
We cleaned up his knees quickly and went in with the Band-Aids. He screamed. He cried. He withered up into a pool of tears, whimpering for over 10 minutes. My husband put on one. I tried to get our son to put one on me. When that still didn’t work, I brought out a heaping bowl of ice cream. He was so distressed, he refused to eat it. Finally, I crumpled up the $0.48 from both his knees and let him rub the Neosporin all over our sheets while we read books before bed.
Side note: When they do those studies on what kids cost, does anyone actually factor in the amount of things that kids break, stain, rip, and otherwise ruin?
$5.56 – Yellow children’s rake
He’s wanted one, and I am weak. It was next to the check out stand at Home Depot, and I thought maybe we could get some landscaping done in peace. It worked. If you consider the sound of a rake scraping up and down the sidewalk and driveway peaceful.
Yeah, our neighbors don’t either.
$12.79 – Garden Goddess sunscreen
Look, this is a lot of money for sunscreen. It actually cost $17.79, but I used a $5 Target gift card (and got one back after the purchase!). But you know what? The rumors are true. It rubs in with just a few swipes, and it’s still about as green as a sunscreen gets. Our previous sunscreen?
$40.00 – Doctor visit copays
I carry health insurance through my work. It is a pre-ACA plan that’s been grandfathered in, and it fits our needs. We just happened to have one of those springs where whatever germs HP was catching wouldn’t let go. So, we needed to make two visits two weeks apart, and paid the copays just now, mostly because it is still 1997 in our pediatrician’s office and she doesn’t like to take credit cards at the time of the appointment.
Things We Got Without Buying
The suburbs get a bad rap (or is it bum rep…or both?) on almost all fronts in the personal finance world. But you know what? We love where we live, and it is a gold mine on garbage day. Plus, HP has really generous people in his life.
Play lawnmower – I found this creepy and cute (fine, it’s just plain creepy) at the top of a trash heap last week.
Play kitchen food – We scored a mini-dish drain, a frying pan, and a bunch of pretend food.
Police car – This was garbage picked with the play food!
Bubble wand and Elmo chair – My aunt got HP the bubble wand as a gift. She also gave us an Elmo chair that she used for my cousin’s son when he was much younger. Her attic clean-out is our gain.
Things We Did That Didn’t Cost Us Anything
I suspect a large part of why people find themselves spending so much on the kids over the summer is that the world wants us to. But there are plenty of frugal and free summer options.
Library visits: 3 (including a bookmobile!)
Park visits: 6 (not counting repeat parks because I’m not actually sure I can count that high)
Walking paths/hiking trails: 2
Malls: 1 (we go for the play place and the fountains)
Tons of time outside: HP’s new obsessions this summer are helping with the garden and playing with bubbles.
A Side Note
Of course, we feed and shelter our son. We also put him in diapers. I’m not going to include our groceries, our electric bill, or anything like that in these toddler summer money diaries. But I will make sure to include diapers and wipes when we buy them. It’s also worth noting that we don’t pay childcare over the summer, but we will include park district program costs when we pay those, too.
Moving into Next Week’s Toddler Summer Money Diary
Either every Wednesday or every-other Wednesday, I’ll share a toddler summer money diary here. I promise to include prices and even some pictures. I’m not aiming at curbing our spending; I’m simply trying to document what it’s like to have summer fun with a toddler and what those costs might look like.
Oh, and looking back at all this stuff that entered my house over the past week makes me know for certain that it’s time to double down on decluttering. Yikes!
So Tell Me…Do you have a favorite purchase from the past week?