Beth Thrifty Tuesday

Thrifty Tuesday – Budgeting for Kids

Welcome to another installment of Thrifty Tuesday. Disclaimer – I am not a financial expert. Just sharing the thrifty tips that help me live a more budget friendly lifestyle. Today’s topic – budget friendly living with kids.

Hey so did you know raising children is not free? GASP! You’re kidding! And while having one child is definitely not as expensive as it could be, it’s still definitely a financial need we deal with. He needs food, clothes, etc. We’ve found a few ways to save a little money and it helps big time.


Shop places like Once Upon a Child. If you aren’t familiar with it, Once Upon a Child is a consignment store for kids clothing, toys, supplies, books, and more. And it is easily our favorite store. It’s kind of a no brainer that kids grow fast, so why spend full price on items they’re going to outgrown in less than a year? We’ve especially been successful in finding things like winter coats and snowpants. The other reason I’m a big fan of shopping secondhand for kids clothes is that my kiddo is pretty rough on his clothes (I’m guessing most kids are!) so it’s nice knowing if he stains or rips something, we didn’t spend a ton of money on it.

I do look for kids clothes at other thrift shops as well but I find I have the most luck at Once Upon a Child. Another great option is the Just Between Friends seasonal sales but they are only open periodically. I have had some luck with ThredUp as well, especially when they have a seasonal clearance sale. Finally, we do buy some new stuff at Target and for shoes we have the best luck at Payless. Both places we usually watch for sales.


I have been slowly compiling a list of places in the Twin Cities that offer free kids meals and the nights they are available. It’s a great thing to take advantage of and something we’re working on doing more. It might mean we shift the night we go out in a given week, but it’s worth it to save a little extra money. Here are the places I’ve found so far.

Hazel’s in NE Minneapolis – Tuesdays

People’s Organic – Sundays

Stout’s Pub – Sundays

Green Mill – Tuesdays

D’Mico and Sons – Sundays

St. Clair Broiler – Sundays

Perkins – Tuesdays

Barley Johns – Tuesdays

Nutmeg Brewhouse –  Mondays

Pizza Nea – Thursdays

Big Louie’s Bar and Grill – Tuesdays

I know there are more and I’m hoping to keep updating this list as I discover more options. Another way we save is by going someplace that serves food family style, such as Brasa, we all eat the same things and we usually get a second meal out of it, so more bang for our buck.


We’ve set aside an “allowance” for Ollie. We’ve told him about it even though he might not truly understand. The allowance is mostly for little treats throughout the month when we’re out and about. If he wants a toy car for example, it comes out of his allowance. We also set up a family entertainment budget that is set up for all three of us and that covers things like going to museums or shows or other activities that we’d need to pay for.

With summer coming we plan to take advantage of being outside and doing as many “free” activities as we can – playing lots of disc golf, swimming at public beaches or pools, going to the park to play or have a picnic or having our friends over for a backyard barbeque and bonfire. One of my favorite nights last summer was a super hot day that we set up every water toy we own and we had our friends over to play. We fired up the grill, set up lawn chairs and just relaxed outside. The kids had a blast running around in the water and even the grownups had a good time. So I see more of that in our future this summer.

We are beyond lucky to have a membership to the Children’s Museum so once it is open again in June we’ll definitely be spending more time there again on cloudy days or even nice ones as they’ll have an expanded outdoor area to play in as well. All we have to pay for is parking, you can’t beat that!

So, these are just a few ways we’ve found to save a little money as parents. I know there are probably other things we can do as well, but this is a good start. If you have any good money saving tips for kiddos, feel free to share with me in the comments!

I am sure expensive, so it’s a good thing I’m so cute!

13 thoughts on “Thrifty Tuesday – Budgeting for Kids

  1. Great tips! Have you shopped at The Children’s Place? They have great prices for clothes and they have awesome coupons. They even have a rewards program.

  2. We used to have a place called Runt Rethreads growing up that my mom got all of my clothes. It’s like once upon a child. It makes so much sense because you grow out of clothes so quickly when you are young.

  3. We don’t have kids of our own yet but i can imagine that once kids are involved in the mix, we’re going to have to be pretty darn conscious of our spending habits. (I say “we” to make myself feel better. It’s all me. My husband spends like 5 dollars a week. On his rare trip to Taco Bell for lunch)

  4. Such an awesome idea to make that list of places kids can eat free! I really need to look into that around here. We don’t go out much, but when we do, we should definitely find a place like that. The kids just waste food anyways. We don’t have children’s museum pass, but we do have a zoo pass that we use a ton in the summer. It’s so nice because you don’t feel obligated to stay a long time if the kids aren’t into it that day.

  5. It’s so cool that some restaurants have free kids meals at certain times. That must make it so much easier for a family to enjoy a meal out. It’s great that Hazels does that too… I love that place! 🙂

  6. What great tips. My biggest realization was that my kids don’t need that many clothes. As long as I’m doing regular laundry, my daughter doesn’t need more dresses just because Target released a new line. I’m also big on finding free activities, rotating toys, and trading in toys for credit to purchase used toys. Free dinners are also good. IHOP from 4-7 during the week. We also try to find ways of splitting our meals and not feeling compelled to buy separate kid meals. Great post, Beth.

  7. Great suggestions, Beth. Especially the clothing. They outgrow their clothes so quickly why not save money by buying second hand? Great idea! Nice to see restaurants offer kids eat free nights. I used to peruse garage sales for books and toys for the kids when they were small. Had some good luck with it, too.

  8. I love this–you know budgeting has been on my mind lately too. Dang kids are expensive! These are great tips, and I especially love your list of places where kids eat free. We’re not eating out much these days but when we do we really need to keep that in mind–even though kids meals are cheaper, they’re still quite a bit (especially considering how little Jona actually eats!). Thanks for the good ideas!

  9. Great tips Beth! I am definitely a sucker for Once Upon A Child! Honestly though, I could find my kids a cute outfit no matter where we are. So I try desperately to stay away from the clothes. lol! Our town finally has it’s first park with playground equipment. Nothing fancy, but at least we have the option to walk somewhere instead of drive.

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