Spending & Saving: Money & Our Kid

A few weeks ago, a new reader, Lstodd left a great comment on one of my weekly spending posts. In short, he noticed that we have a kid but don’t really appear to be spending money on her. He also pointed out that we have a puppy fund

Lstodd said:

Hi, I do enjoy seeing where the money goes, makes me look at my spending habits more closely. I’ve only been reading your blog for a short while, but I read that you have a daughter. If you don’t mind me asking, why don’t you list any money spent for your daughter? Do you have a college fund that you contribute too? I see that you have a puppy fund.

Isn’t that a great question, nobody has really said anything about that yet and I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years now. Wanna know what I said? Of course you do, here’s my reply:

Jen said:

Hi Lstodd, that is a very good question that I’ve never really addressed on here. The short answer is aside from groceries and vitamins, we don’t really spend much money on our daughter.

Let me see if I can get a post together to address the way and reasons we don’t. I’ll try to get it up within the next 2 weeks.  It’s a great question, so I don’t want to leave anything out.

So here is the post, sorry it’s a bit late but I’ve been busy with moving and buying our first house. It’s pretty long, so you might want to put some coffee on. 😉

Weekly Spending Posts & Our Kid

Our weekly spending posts, otherwise known as Where Did The Dough Go?, show where every little bit of my husband’s paycheck goes. I don’t work, but I do make some money online now and then which is put into my luxury spending account. The money I earn online isn’t reported or tracked in our weekly spending posts.

We’ve only been tracking our spending for just over a year, so some things won’t work the same in the future. What money do we spend on our kid that is reported?

Groceries– Kids eat a lot. Thankfully, our kid loves healthy stuff, especially vegetables and fruit. She rarely eats candy and considers it a special treat when she does.

School Supplies– Last year, I had a ton of school supplies leftover from my extreme couponing days, so we only had to pick up a few things. We don’t have as much stuff left now because I had her bring in some extra supplies in case some of the kids in her class didn’t have enough money to buy all theirs. Still, there are always a lot of sales during the summer and I’m sure we can do pretty well for the upcoming school year.

Clothing (usually just socks and underwear)– This is where we get really lucky. My mom has a shopping addiction, so we never really have to buy our daughter clothes. When we do, I usually either use a gift card I earned online and pair it up with a store coupon and find something cute on sale. Grandma also buys our kid tons of shoes and accessories, even though I think it’s wasteful because kids just grow so quickly.

Vitamins– We make sure that our daughter takes a multi-vitamin every day and we also give her some of that Children’s DHA liquidstuff. The extra DHA might not be necessary, but I feel better with her having it. I’ve also convinced her that the DHA liquid MAKES her be good. She’s almost 10 and really smart, but very gullible –I’m not complaining though, it’s fixed 99% of her bad behavior.

Health & Beauty Items– Most of these items are free to us because of the huge stockpile I amassed back in my couponing days. New items are also purchased with sales, coupons and store rewards to help keep our costs low.

Christmas and Birthdays– Of course we buy our daughter Christmas presents, even though I was debating it last year. We don’t buy her a ton of stuff for Christmas, just a few things we know she’ll love. She also gets Christmas and birthday presents from her grandparents, so we don’t need to spend much.

Last year for her birthday, I had tons of gifts saved up from couponing and rebates to give her. The only thing we ended up paying for (aside from her party) was a 1 year subscription to National Geographic Kids magazine, she loves that magazine. I think I ended up paying for it with my luxury spending money because it was easier at the time. She’s a big reader and would much rather read and play Legos than anything else. We also get her a free subscription to Lego Club magazine.

Her birthday and Christmas are the only times we buy her toys and stuff. Most parents might think this is awful, but it makes her grateful for the things she does get. I’ve always tried my best to make sure she doesn’t turn out to be spoiled, like I was…and so far it’s working.

School Pictures– At our daughter’s school, they offer school pictures twice a year. I know a lot of the parents end up buying school pictures each time they are available, which can get expensive. I have a camera, so I can take pictures during the year and not miss out on a 2nd photo session. I usually go over all the options available and assess what our needs are at the time, even though I always end up with a bit more pictures than we really need.

Other Stuff- A portion of rent and bills, dining out and household items are some other things we spend money on for her. We use to give her an allowance, out of my luxury spending money, but quit doing that after she refused to clean her room. She’s gotten much better about lately, so we’ll probably start that up again soon.

Saving Money for College

Currently, we’re not really saving money for our daughter’s college education. Hold on, before you start freaking out…there’s a couple things you should know.

Upromise is the smart way to save for college!

We have a Upromise account for our daughter setup with our grocery cards, debit and credit cards. There’s not a ton of money in it, but it all adds up.

Turn Your Everyday Spending into College Savings!

Our daughter loves learning, reading, homework and school. We’ve always talked about how if she’s works hard in school, she can get scholarships to pay for college. She loves the idea of college and knows that we probably won’t be able to pay for it. She even saves some of her own money that she gets for gifts and helping out others in case she doesn’t get a big enough scholarship  It’s really cute and it’s teaching her that things won’t be handed to her and that she needs to work for what she wants.

We barely have anything saved for retirement, we’re getting better little by little, but we’re nowhere close to where we should be. It might sound selfish, but that’s okay. We’re not going to save to pay for our daughter’s college education when we can’t even be sure we’ll be able to make ends meet when we’re really old. It’s not like she’s going to want to take care of us and pay our way. As parents, I feel that we need to make sure we’re at least where we should be before worrying about saving for college.

Worst case scenario our daughter could get a student loan. When we’re 60 or whatnot, nobody is going to loan us money to survive. I’m not assuming anybody is going to agree with me on this, but it’s just what I feel is best.

Kid’s Savings Account

I have been teaching our daughter about money since she was a baby and opened her a savings account right away. I would take her to cash in her piggy bank and deposit money into her savings account since she could talk. She loves saving money and seeing how much “free money” she gets (that’s what she calls interest) for keeping her money in the bank.

A few years back, the bank was offering really attractive rates on CDs and after explaining it to her, and explaining the difference between keeping her money in her savings…she decided put most of it in a CD. I even let her choose the term and everything.

I also set her up a Kid’s Savings Account a few years ago with Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct), my favorite bank ever.

Click here to start saving with Capital One 360


While it might not seem like we’re spending much money on our kid, she’s not really going without either. I know that there are some areas that that can be improved, but for the last few years things have pretty much remained the same. Will our spending and saving money for our kid change in the future? I’m fairly certain it will, but we’ll have to wait and see.


How much money do you spend on your kid?

About Jen Perkins

Likes: saving money, being debt free (aside from our house), zombies, travel, getting money, blogging and dogs. Dislikes: debt, being broke, bunnies, wasting money, not having enough money to travel the world and paying interest. Facebook  ♥  Twitter  ♥  Google+  ♥  RSS


Spending & Saving: Money & Our Kid — 32 Comments

  1. We don’t have any kids but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary that you have a college education account for them. We also have a “dog” fund as it’s simply required if you’re going to take care of a pet. I’d say that’s a necessity as opposed to a college fund being a luxury. Dogs require food, heartguard, flea meds, and annual shots, so neglecting those responsibilities isn’t something we’re willing to do. If you’re going to own a dog then you have to pay for their necessities (which most people neglect) and I do think that takes precedent over the kid’s college.

    • Yeah, if we don’t save for “puppy expenses”, we’re still going to have to pay for them. It’s not like we can let bad, awful things happen to her. I love dogs! :-)

    • LOL Everybody always says that. :-) They really don’t, at least within reason. Some people just choose different ways to raise their kids and want to give them different things.

  2. I am spoiled sh!tless and knew little about money until I was in my twenties. It sounds like your daughter is amazing and way ahead of the curve.

    I love my parents and the gift of my college education is a debt I’ll probably never be able to repay them. Because they did this for me and my brother they’re not as far along in their retirement savings as they should be and this scares me and makes me worry for them.

    It’s a double edged sword, but I think you’re doing the right thing.

    • I was the same way as you; financially ignorant until around 24 (I think).

      My parent’s never paid for my college, though. I got grants and went to community college (but didn’t finish) and covered the rest myself. That sucks about your parents’ retirement savings not being on track, but they probably don’t regret their choice a bit. :-)


  3. I totally agree that paying for a kid’s college is a luxury. That’s great if the parents can afford it, but on the other hand, it helps the child be more responsible for their own finances if they have to pay their own. My friends, whose parents paid their way through college, know far less about financial matters than they would if their college hadn’t have been a free ride. And I feel that they didn’t take college very seriously because they didn’t have any investment in it – it was just one big party, not an education.

    On the other hand, my parents weren’t able to pay for my college. I wanted to go, so I studied hard and got scholarships. My scholarships didn’t cover the full cost, so I went to school part time and worked part time so that I could go. It took me 9 years to finish school, but I did it myself and I did not come out of school with huge amounts of debt. I know a lot of people just get loans to cover school. They finish school with debts so large that they will never ever finish paying them off. That’s a financial choice they will have to pay for for a long time. I am so happy that I made the choice to go part time so that I could work and pay my way at the beginning, instead of paying for it for the rest of my life.

    • I think being forced to pay for your own college definitely can open your eyes to your finances much more than a free ride. I certainly was more serious and invested in college and worked hard on every single assignment.

      Wow, 9 years and without all the debt—that’s really awesome, Rachel. I bet you are really proud of yourself, if not…YOU SHOULD BE! 😀

  4. We’ve been very upfront with our kids – we will help them as much as we can, and they can live at home rent free (we live in a city with 2 good universities and a good community college), but they will have to pay for almost all their school themselves.

    We have debt (lots of it) that is a priority, and my husband is 55 with no where near enough retirement savings, so we’re playing catch-up.

    They can get scholarships and part time jobs to help them.

    • It’s nice to be able to give your kids a head start (by paying for college), but it’s just not a reality for everybody. At least your kids will be able to stay at home while attending college, that’ll save them a ton of money. :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing this Jen. I didn’t know you have a child! Cool! I have a daughter — I guess I spoil her. Oh well, there are worse things to be guilty of.

    Sounds like you are raising yours well!

    • Thanks Thad. I guess I don’t talk about her on here that much, not that she isn’t important or anything. I’m doing my best, hopefully things will turn out the way I’m hoping. :-)

  6. We have two kids and I don’t put them in my budget either. They eat cheap and I don’t spend a lot of money on them. I get them inexpensive presents and mostly used clothing. Actually, so many other family members buy them gifts that I don’t buy them much at all.

    However, I do save for their college. My state, Indiana, has an awesome state tax credit for contributing to a college 529 account. Basically, for every $5000 per year that I contribute, I get a 20% tax CREDIT when I do my taxes. Making 20% on my money is always a good thing.

    Don’t feel overwhelmed by saving for his or her college. It adds up quick. I started by putting $25 per month in each of my girls 529 plans from when they were babies. I also put any money that they get for Christmas or their birthdays directly in their 529’s. Over the last few years we have started contributing more and it really adds up quick! We plan on paying for our kids college entirely so we started as soon as they had social security numbers!

    • Wow, that sounds like an awesome tax credit. That’s really cool that you guys have been able to save for both of their college educations since they were babies. :-)

  7. Haha I didn’t know either. Kids don’t have to be expensive day to day. And uPromise would be so great if I could ever figure out how to get them to credit my account.

    • You should email them or contact them, that’s not cool at all. If that doesn’t work, you could always call them out via social media—that stuff seems to work really great for some people. :-)

  8. Sounds like you have everything under control and are doing well. In a few years your daughter will be old enough to get a part-time job and perhaps she can save a portion of that for her education and maybe you guys will be in a position to supplement it. I don’t believe a person’s education should be funded 100% by their parents because (not always) but in some cases students don’t take school as serious as the ones that struggled to pay for it.

    • She can’t wait to get a job, she’s so excited to start learning more about working and money.

      We were actually having a conversation today about what kind of car she’s going to buy when she gets older. She was saying that it would be nice to get a big, pretty car but she would feel silly because it’s a waste of money and she would just need it to go to work and school.

      HAHA! She totally caught me off guard because I was just talking about how one day I’ll get my big, bad SUV and run over all the zombies.

      She’s going to turn out pretty level-headed despite having a super-silly, SUV-loving, zombie obsessed mommy. :-)

  9. I have no problem with your approach. Not everyone should feel obligated to pay for their kids’ college education. The majority of college students get by with student loans. It makes sense to cover your own retirement before worrying about something like paying for her college. By not spoiling her throughout the year she’ll also develop more appreciation for things and not take money for granted. So it sounds like you are raising her well.

  10. I’ve come to the conclusion that if our kids want to go to college, we’ll help them out as much as we can, but we’re not funding college accounts for them. Part of that resistance is because we just don’t have the extra funds in our budget to do so. I think it’s just as important to have debt free parents who can help as it is to have parents who saved up for college tuition only to need financial assistance later on when they retire.

    • TOTALLY AGREE! It just doesn’t make sense to endanger our financial future to make hers a bit easier. Some families can afford it and some can’t.

  11. Brilliant content to say the least. I agree with each and everything that you said above. I would mention one more point to it. I feel every parents should discuss with their children the differences between needs and wants. People buy what they need, such as food and medicine, and they also buy things they want, such as toys and treats. Encourage children to think about what they need versus what they want. They should buy the things they need before they buy the things they want. People work hard to earn their money, so it’s important that they spend it wisely. Much needed content must say.

    • Thanks Jennifer. :-) I agree, children need to be able to distinguish the difference between “needs” and “wants”.

  12. I think that’s great that you’re teaching your daughter how to save at such a young age. I think personal finance classes should be mandatory in high schools. My family was by no means wealthy when I was growing up, but my parents did pay for mine and my 2 sisters’ college educations and weddings…..and a whole lot more. I had all I needed or wanted. I’m so appreciative of it but the downside was that I never learned the cost of things til much later in life. Money was never spoken of. I had absolutely no idea how much it would take to get along in life or the repercussions of spending too much. That being said, I got myself bankrupt at a very early age and then later into $30k in debt! Well, I guess I learned the hard way. Now I’m completely debt free with an excellent credit rating, but to have been taught something about money at a young age would have saved me a lot of headache.
    Kudos to you!

  13. I needed to go, so I concentrated hard and got grants. My grants didn’t take care of the full expense, so I went to class low maintenance and worked low maintenance so I could go. It took me 9 years to complete school, yet I did it without anyone else’s help and I didn’t leave school with colossal measures of obligation. I know many individuals simply inspire credits to cover school. They complete school with obligations so vast that they will never at any point get done with paying them off. That is a money related decision they will need to pay for quite a while.