Happy summer! It is summer, isn’t it? I ask because I think I’ve spent more time looking for my jacket and snuggling under blankets than anything else lately.
Despite the rain and the chill, we’re making lemonade with our summer break. We’re also trying hard to not totally blow our budget. Granted, we did just get back from an eight day road trip that took us from Chicago to Montreal with a handful of really fun stops in between, and it wasn’t exactly cheap.
As promised, though, we’ve kept a special eye on our toddler spending, and I’m dishing on all the details for the past two weeks here:
Toddler Summer Money Diary Weeks 2 & 3
$16.27 – Baby food pouches & freeze-dried pears
Holy convenience costs, Batman! We don’t normally purchase these items save for the occasional treat. But we were taking a long road trip, and we knew that these would travel well and not be a problem with customs. Not that the pears even made it that far, thanks to my little piggy. We stocked up on 8 bags of pears and 12 pouches.
$1.07 – Bath book
HP loves to read, and he loves the bath. When I saw a Mickey Mouse bath book at Dollar Tree, I tried to resist. And failed. Kids don’t always make themselves expensive; moms do. At least this one does.
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$11.66 – Swim diapers
We use disposable diapers for our son. It’s something that I really struggle with environmentally, but it’s the truth. On the other hand, we use a reusable swim diaper. We’ve actually managed to use the same two his entire life thanks to their clever (expanding!) design.
However, we knew we were traveling and public pools often have very specific rules about the types of swim diapers that babies and toddlers need to wear. We picked up a pack from Target for our trip, and we anticipate this lasting all summer and beyond. In fact, we hope that we’ll be able to give most of them away.
$1.75 – Used books
My parents’ cottage has a teeny tiny library near by. We stop by as often as we can because it’s absolutely magical. It can’t possibly have a fraction of the funding of our suburban library, but it is truly amazing what they do for kids. I never hesitate to stop by their book sales. I bought three lift-the-flap board books for HP to leave at the cottage. Plus, he insisted on rolling a quarter down the coin ramp for the Kiwanis.
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$4.22 – Dollar Tree treats & toys
We are in the very, very early stages of potty training. By that I mean two things: I awkwardly transported a used potty home (give me my Awkward Frugal Queen crown now, please), and our son poops on the potty.
The catch? He does so in his diaper. I’m also not too proud to admit that we reward him with an M&M when he poops on his potty. It seemed like one box would last for an eternity until my dad came to visit and ate them all. (Full disclosure: I’m pretty sure HP helped quite a bit.) We stocked up on two more boxes, plus we got a tube of bubbles and three toy cars.
Things We Got Without Buying
My garbage finds over the past few weeks were so awkward (our neighbor totally busted us with a garage full of her trash!), that I finally revived my Frugally Awesome…or Awkward money series. Here are the spoils:
Water table – It doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles that I see in other neighbor’s yards. But it holds water, and HP thinks he can swim in it. Truly. He pretzels up his chubby arms, leans over, and dunks as much as he possibly can.
Toddler basketball hoop – We already have a hoop, but this one is adjustable. I couldn’t let it go in the garbage!
Toddler chairs – HP’s very favorite thing to do at the children’s museum is to go to the food court and push around the chairs. Now, he can do this to his heart’s content on our backyard patio.
Car ramps – These ramps are part gift and part garbage find. My sister-in-law works for a school district, and she noticed that they were throwing away a ton of old materials for science labs. She found some plastic strips that would work for toy car ramps, so she brought them to us. HP was delighted!
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: 2 (including one that let us check out an awesome kit of Melissa & Doug counting toys and related books)
Park visits: 14 (in case you wondered how we broke up our 8-day road trip, now you know)
Walking paths/hiking trails: 3
Malls: 4 (I’m not actually sure how to score Montreal’s Underground City!)
Tons of time outside: This is actually how we kept costs down in big cities like Montreal and touristy places like Niagara.
A Side Note
As I said in my first toddler money diary, this list isn’t entirely accurate. 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. We even took him on an international road trip through three states and two provinces.
The reason you don’t see those costs reflected here is because the cost was negligible. Sure, you could argue that his 32-pound self (plus his stuff! oh, the stuff!) weighed down our car some. He also ate the half of my meals that I would generally take home for leftovers. But being under the age of 2, he was essentially free in terms of our budget. Keeping him calm for the 6 hour car ride that turned in 10 hours one day? You can’t really put a price on that. Woof.
Moving into Next Week’s Toddler Summer Money Diary
We still have one week left in the month, and we’re nearing the top of our toddler budget already. Since HP was born, we’ve basically decided to take the $300 of spending money that we used to allot for ourselves and try to split it three ways instead. Basically, we each get $100 a month, and if you total up the last money diary and this one, you’ll see that HP is already at about $90.
That means it’s time to really think hard about how we spend our time and what we actually need. And when I say we, I mean me. Because honestly? HP is nothing but smiles and giggles all summer long.
Now, someone just keep reminding me of that.
So Tell Me…How’s your summer spending looking this summer? Any category you’re keeping a close eye on?