How To Raise The Best Kids Ever! Hint: Almost No Spending Required

Howdy! While Mr. Frugalwoods and I enjoy/attempt to survive our very first month as parents to our daughter, Babywoods, I have a delightful slate of guest posts from my friends lined up for your reading pleasure. Today, please welcome the fabulous Mr. 1500 from 1500 Days To Freedom! In addition to being wonderful writers about all things frugal and financial independence-related, the 1500s are awesome people who generously handed down their Ergo carrier to us for Babywoods (and showered us with other adorable baby gifts)! Frugal friends are the best.

By: Mr. 1500

People love to hand out advice when you tell them your first child is on the way. Well-meaning relatives, friends and even random people at the grocery store will readily tell you how to successfully raise kids. Mrs. 1500 and I heard all kinds of advice ranging from the best diapers to the safest strollers to where (and even how!) the baby should be born.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger in duck form

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger in duck form

More than anything else, people told us that children would be expensive. “Start saving now!!” we were warned. I didn’t find this advice completely untrue, but maybe not in the way you think. The main cost for us, and it’s not insignificant, was my wife leaving work for eight years to raise our two children. If she’d kept her job, our biggest expense would have been daycare.

However, many people maintained that we were going to be surprised with the expenses that come with children. Cribs! High chairs!! Toys!!! Oh my! The more I thought about these warnings, the more I questioned them. Now that our daughters are 8 and 5, I’m convinced that children can be expensive, but only if you let them.

What I Tell New Parents

When I learned that the Frugalwoods’ first baby was on the way, I started thinking about advice that I’d give to new parents. I distilled my thoughts down to four Bs; Bikes, Buffett, Books and Building. None of them have much to do with spending money.


I still remember the day I learned how to ride a bike. I was seven and felt instantly free. My world had expanded; I could now get to far away places (the other side of the neighborhood) in a minute or two. I have fond memories of my friends and I spending most of our waking hours during summer on bikes, riding from dawn to dusk and beyond.


Five minutes after my daughter learned to ride

A love of biking has carried over to adulthood. Why jump into a car to run an errand when you can be outside on a fine fall day, enjoying the sounds and smells of the great outdoors? I find that I can often get places faster on a bike too, especially during times of high traffic, because I’m on one of my town’s excellent bicycle trails.

Biking is also a wonderful family activity. Our children love our family bike rides. We all cruise over to the library or park at least a couple times each week.

Give your children a love of biking and you’ve instilled a skill that will serve them well for life. Biking provides cheap transportation and great exercise.

Tip!: Balance bikes are an awesome invention for teaching children to ride, but there is no need to buy a dedicated one. Just take the pedals off your own child’s bike, lower the seat and have them shove themselves around with their feet. Sit back and pay attention.


This cheap pedal wrench turns any bike into a balance bike

After a while, you’ll see that your child can balance because she’ll coast for 50 feet or more without putting a foot down. When this happens, reinstall the pedals and your child will be instantly able to ride. We did this successfully with both of our girls. No need to run around behind them holding the back of the seat. My lower back hurts just thinking about that!

Buffett (teach your children about money)

You probably know Warren Buffett as one of the most successful investors and richest people of all time. While those qualities may be admirable, there are plenty of people who have figured out how to build great wealth.

What sets Warren Buffett apart is that he’s a genuinely good person. Did you know that he plans to give almost his entire fortune to charity? Did you also know that he lends his voice to a cartoon (Secret Millionaires Club) whose purpose is to educate children about money and business? Buffett had this to say about the subject:

This stuff is age-old, but it has to be taught. Some kids are lucky enough to get it at home, but a lot aren’t.

It’s wonderful that one of the richest people on earth cares about financial education. He’s filling a void because money education is rare in school and at home. When I was growing up, discussions about money were off limits. It was OK to talk about sex, but I didn’t dare ask about my dad’s income.

Tips!: While the Secret Millionaires Club cartoons are a fun resource for your children, let them only be a starting point for money education. Don’t expect the schools to teach your kids about money, because they probably won’t.

  • Encourage your children to save: Our children have three envelopes that they use to save money. We encourage them to save, share, and on rare occasions, spend. This money comes mostly from a weekly allowance that the girls earn for doing chores.

Do this!

  • Teach them about spending: If one of our children wants a toy, the money comes out of that spending envelope. No exceptions. They are much more hesitant to buy a toy when they know the money is coming from their own funds.
  • Teach them about investing: Our children own stock. The purpose of it isn’t to make them rich, but to start to teach them about the world of business. It’s never too early to start.
  • Encourage your children to start a business: I want my children to be entrepreneurial. While a lemonade stand is perfectly acceptable, I’ve encouraged my children to think big. They are building bird and bat-houses which they’ll sell at local craft fairs and online.

Future business lady with bird house #1

Books (instill a passion for knowledge)

If you asked me what traits have made me most successful, a love of reading would be at the top of the list. The written word has taken me to incredible places in life. Instilling a love of reading in your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give. A passion for knowledge is a very powerful tool. Besides, sitting down with a good book is one of the great pleasures in life.


How do you get your children to love books though? It’s amazingly easy and this sums it up:

Readers are born on the laps of readers.

This works! We read to our children constantly. Our older daughter knew how to read at age 3 and, as an 8-year-old, can’t put books down. We have to yell at her to stop reading when it’s time for dinner.

Tip!: This one is simple: Read to your children. All. The. Time.

Building (instill a work ethic)

I’m an oddball in my neighborhood. I’m the only guy who changes the oil on the cars. I’m the only one who knows how to install a toilet or lay tile. If something breaks, I take it apart to see if I can figure out the problem before I call someone. I find that these qualities are lost on too many people in our convenient, modern society.


I want my children to be like me. I don’t want them to be afraid to try something. I don’t want them to be afraid to work with their hands or give up easily. I want my children to know that hard work will take you great places in life.

IMG_20150228_101636904To help them along, I’m building a playhouse with them. Together, we designed it on a computer and building it is a family project. Both girls know how to use a hammer, level and tape measure. I hope that our playhouse project gives them the confidence to try anything they want in life. I also hope it instills creativity. A store-bought playhouse would have been easy and fast, but what fun is that?

Tip!: You don’t have to build a crazy playhouse like we’ve done. The big box, home improvement stores frequently have Saturday morning projects for kids. They provide the tools and the kit, all for free.

Good Kids

As a parent, my job is to equip my children with the tools necessary to be successful adults. So far, the lessons have been going well. Both children enjoy biking as much as I do. I’m thrilled that they know who Warren Buffett is. I’m giddy that I have to yell at my 8-year-old to put her book down. The girls proposed some creative ideas for their playhouse:

  • Fire pole (Yes!)
  • Trap door (We can do that!)
  • Moat with drawbridge (I like the way you think, but…)

One day our girls will leave the nest. In the meantime, I’ll do everything possible to mold them into the best people they can be. I want them to be smart, compassionate, thoughtful, and hard-working. I want them to dream big. I want them to take some risks and never be bound by fear.

And The Best Advice Ever

Perhaps the most important advice I ever received was this:

Kids will tell you they want all kinds of stuff, but deep down, all they really want is you.

A friend told me this when she learned my first child was on the way and I’ve thought about it frequently. It’s completely true. Kids don’t need trips to Disney. They don’t need designer clothes or iPads. They don’t need expensive toys or private schools.

They need you to spend time with them.

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods for sharing your fine piece of Internet real estate with me today. You are going to be fantastic parents!

Mr. 1500 writes about financial independence, practices frugality and dreams about plastic dinosaurs over at When not writing, he can be found spending time with his family in the mountains of Colorado.

What are your tips for raising awesome and frugal kids?

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76 Responses

  1. I have only been at this parent thing for exactly 8 months today, but my thoughts are constantly to how I want to raise her throughout her life. Reading is a big one on our list. I grew up without the desire to read and now that I have picked it up again, I feel like I missed out on a lot earlier in life. Before my wife left her 9-5 to stay home with the little one, they threw her a book baby shower where we loaded up our little library and plan to keep it up for as long as we can. I love the idea about the three envelopes for money. We will look to incorporate something like that once she gets a little earlier!

    Congrats Frugalwoods! Being parents is an amazing experience!

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      The FWs are going to be awesome parents. I predict that the following for Babywoods:
      -> At the age of 8, she’ll be more financially wise than most adults
      -> At 10, she’ll be doing differential equations
      -> At 13, she’ll have built a fusion reactor and created peace in the Middle East
      -> At 16, she’ll be running for President…

      You read it here first!

  2. MandalayVA says:

    I like the idea of encouraging my kids to spend money on toys if they want. I might take the savings though a step further if they ever wanted to go to Disney World–if the kid is old enough and can save a portion of savings (like have a separate savings account for Disney Fund) to pay for their own entrance ticket and any trinkets they wanted to buy, I would be willing to make a trip out of it, since we live close enough that two day road trip is a cheap enough vacation, mixed with car-camping, to make it financially possible, especially if the travel/food/housing expenses fit the annual vacation budget. Our kid is still in the hatching process, but it’s something that is bound to be asked for, lol. I never got to go to Disney World growing up and I really wanted to, but also, I was not given the opportunity to pay a portion of it myself.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Making your children pay part of their way is a great idea! We do the same and I’ve noticed that it really makes the kids appreciate money. Our older one will think about a purchase for weeks before pulling the trigger.

  3. This is such a timely post! Last week I wrote an entire post around Mini Monster and her money teachings. She is 6 years old and now starting to call US out on our possible financial mistakes. It almost brings a tear to me eye 🙂 When I was pregnant all I heard was how expensive kids are, but even then, I was skeptical. I would run the numbers over in my head and they just didn’t compute to outrageous figures. Children are truly only as expensive as you want them to be. I have a friend who buys her baby clothes to the tune of hundreds each month. Insanity. Mini Monster is well-clothed, well-fed, well taken care of. Period. She wants for nothing, and the toys she does have multiple in the basement when no one is watching. This is really the only explanation since we (her parents) don’t buy her toys unless it’s Christmas or her birthday. It’s nice to hear that others agree. As long as the basics are covered (food, shelter, healthcare) children aren’t that expensive.

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    • The Roamer says:

      Exactly true. You can add up more costs its not hard to spend a lot of money on a kids but its most certainly optional. Nor required at all.

      Just this weekend I was talking to some other parents and they asked us about clothing our daughter and I had to admit we’d only bought her a few items since her birth because we accept 2nd hand clothes freely. She is 2 now.

      So completely possible to save on costs.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      “She is 6 years old and now starting to call US out on our possible financial mistakes.”

      This is great! We tell our kids how much stuff costs (“we just spend $120 at Costco!”) and we get chastised too. Cracks me up.

      “I have a friend who buys her baby clothes to the tune of hundreds each month.”

      Isn’t it funny when you see babies wearing stuff like Baby Gap? The kid is sitting in a corner drooling (among other nasty things) and couldn’t care less what it’s wearing.

  4. Great tips Mr.1500. Agreed on spending time, so important to be present for your children, put away all they distractions and have a conversation with them. I’m teaching my three that they can do anything they want that they don’t just have to follow in line and do the thing everyone else is doing. They know more about money than I ever did at their age.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      “…that they don’t just have to follow in line and do the thing everyone else is doing”

      That is pretty great! If you follow the herd, you’re just going to step in poop. Thinking on it now, many of my dumb decisions in life were because I was following the crowd or trying to live up to someone else’s expectations.

      If you act and behave normally, normal is all you’ll ever be. Screw that!

  5. Caroline says:

    These are some great ideas – we have 3 kids ranging in age from 9 to 2 and so I consider myself a bit of a veteran. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be factored in expense-wise is the medical / dental side. I believe that in the States as in South Africa, solid medical insurance is very important, but even factoring that in, there is no way to know if… your child/ren will need…. (deep breath) OT, braces or any orthodontics, ER visits with huge co-payments, remedial teaching, chronic meds, such as for ADD, Asthma and the like. Yes of course medical insurance will be a big help for some of these things, but very fast those funds dwindle and the co-payments stack up. For this reason, a financial cushion, even just a modest one, is very useful.

    And then there’s education; yes, there are more and less expensive places to study and Ivy-League is all marvellous but not necessarily ideal for every person… and yes, student loans and grants are great, in their place, but the ability to underwrite even just some of your children’s tertiary education will give them some options they likely wouldn’t have had and it is a great thing to be able to do… and those expenses mount up FAST. It’s clearly not a necessity in the way food and shelter is, but for many of us, it’s a priority.

    As for the frills and expensive holidays and latest designer labels? I’m totally with you and our kids – so far- seem unfazed by one-upmanship of that sort, and have the sorts of friends who are unfazed also… but it’s very early days!

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      I agree that those are valid concerns, but still a drop in the bucket compared to what many consider is normal to raise a child. I just put “cost to raise a child” into Google and it told me $304,480. This number doesn’t include the cost of the pregnancy or college education.

      Our oldest is about to turn 9 (halfway there!) and I’d be surprised if we’ve spent over $10,000. We don’t skimp, but are frugal. Of course, costs will go up as she gets into higher grades, but I can’t fathom she’ll cost even close to $100,000.

      I also believe the nature of higher education is changing. For example, one of the highest paid employees at the company my wife works for doesn’t have a college education. He took some programming classes, worked hard, and now has a great job.

  6. Hannah says:

    I’m hoping to teach my son how to build at a very young age, so then he can take my spot as my husband’s assistant.

    Teaching your kids to have a keen business sense is so critical. Even if they never turn out to be entrepreneurial, it will help them to connect the dots between value added and money which is in my opinion the most important lesson.

    Congratulations and best of luck with the new little one Frugalwoods!

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Is your son available for hire? I could use some help! 🙂

      Teaching children entrepreneurial is awesome. The schools aren’t going to to it and maybe there is a good reason not to; the world needs many more indians than chiefs. However, just the thought process and critical thinking that goes into business is worth teaching anyone/

  7. I couldn’t agree more with these points. My son is always building and being read to and I’m very please with these pastimes.

  8. We cleaned out my children’s play area yesterday and I was really proud of them for being willing to donate so many of their toys. I don’t think they’re that attached to “stuff,” which is exactly what I want. And yeah, they definitely want to spend time with us above all else. I know that for a fact.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Holly, you hit on another great point. Teaching kids to be charitable is to consider others is wonderful. The world doesn’t need any more selfish people!

  9. I agree whole-heartedly with this post… particularly about spending time with them. We have a 5-year old daughter and we try to instill a lot of what you’ve said in her. However, on another side, it’s funny to watch how the grandparents are with her. When my wife’s parents are watching her, they make it quality time and build crafts together, go bike riding, and teach her different things that my wife and I might have missed (another angle).

    When my parents are watching her though, they just sit and watch TV unless they can come up with something expensive now and again like when they took her horseback riding. They almost feel like they need to spend money or there’s nothing to do… drives me nuts!

    There are so many things you can do with kids that will inspire them and most of them cost little to nothing to make happen.

    — Jim

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      “When my parents are watching her though, they just sit and watch TV unless they can come up with something expensive now and again…”

      Sad. I see the same thing with my own folks. My mom isn’t a child person, so tries to compensate for her lack of interest by buying them stuff. No, mom, no! They just want your to engage them.

  10. Gwen says:

    I’m pretty sure I have almost exactly the same apron from when I was her age. I went with my Girl Scout troop to Lowe’s to build a wooden basket (that my mother still uses in her sewing area!). Thanks for the helpful tips on the kiddos. I’ll store it away for when the time comes far in the future 🙂

  11. Laura says:

    Great post!! What a great approach to raising wonderful kids. I feel like I was raised this way, minus the Buffett/money part! 😉 They spoiled us with toys and stuff that they didn’t have as kids..! I had a horse as a kid, so I was out helping to build the fence and put shingles on the barn roof. I should have asked for a fire pole down from the hay loft!! 😉

    Too bad my parents weren’t great on the money stuff, but I managed to figure it out a little later in life…

  12. Kate says:

    I love this post! Where did you get those envelopes? I’d love to use those instead of paper as they would hold up longer. Thanks so much!

  13. Mrs PoP says:

    Did your little ever send that birdhouse to Buffett?

  14. Alisa says:

    That’s a great tip about forgoing the training wheels on bicycles and just removing the pedals!

  15. Great advice Mr. 1500. And good luck Frugalwoods – you’ll do just fine.

  16. Laura says:

    Great post! Question, what type of chores do they do to earn an allowance? I have always struggled with giving an allowance since I feel some things they should do because they are part of a family. But I want to teach them about money , to save and pay for their own toys when they want. Also, do u pay a dollar amount based on age? Thanks!

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Great question Laura! Some things, like keeping a clean room and putting their dishes away are expected and are tasks for which they do not get paid. Examples of paid chores include cleaning toilets (our small child actually loves to do this), vacuuming the throw rugs, shoveling snow, washing the cars and raking leaves.

      We pay them an equal $5/week now because they spend roughly the same time on chores. Occasionally, we’ll offer them an opportunity to move more with a bonus chore. Moving landscape rocks over the summer was an example of this.

  17. That is the Best “Best Advice Ever,” it is so simple and true, yet most people out there would rather buy more stuff than spend quality time with their kids.

  18. I think getting your kids involved with finances and perhaps even teaching them to run their own small business is such a great tool. I wish my parents had been like that with us. I had to unlearn so many bad habits from them, or figure out (mostly the hard way) how to handle money better. Kids just want their parents around. I loved the memories of just playing board games with them when I was a kid.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Yep, my parents were bad too. By some miracle though, I realized it and decided early on to not be like them.

      The board game memories are awesome. For us, it was Scrabble and Sorry!

  19. LITTERLESS says:

    I love these tips! I grew up reading Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal, which I thought was perfectly normal…nope. Congrats to the Frugalwoods on sweet Babywoods, and I can’t wait to see y’all do a kick-ass job at being smart, kind, frugal parents!

  20. Our formula for parenting is very similar. I love the advice. We do an annual bike chart in the summer time where the kids pick how many miles (100 miles!) we’re going to ride that summer and then every time we take a family bike ride, we mark those miles off the chart. Of course, the last mile is to go get ice cream! Best family activity ever. 🙂

  21. Christy says:

    Have you considered a guest post from Frugal Babe? Although she does not post as frequently today as she did in the past, the two of you have similar goals in that you believe that it does not cost a fortune to raise a child. As her children are a bit older than yours, I believe her oldest is in grade school, I think she would be a nice guest for this site.

  22. Linda says:

    I love the envelope idea. I’m a Dave Ramsey fan and envelopes are a great learning tool. When children are young it’s much easier to spend less. Wait til pre-teen and teenage years. Now comes the expenses. Public Schools charge for sports and extra curricular activities/clubs. Keeping them busy during their pre-teens/teen helps to avoid drugs and gangs. And if your child has any medical needs the Healthcare system in the past 4 years has become atrociously expensive and unfair to blue collar workers. We were blessed with 3 children. It’s true….the more the merrier. Humor is requied, love finds its way!

  23. Kim says:

    Great post!

  24. Ashney says:

    Can’t tell you which of the 4 B’s is my favorite. They are something every child needs to learn I believe. I definitely think books & building are my two favorites I want our 6-month old to learn, that way she can create an imagination and develop problem solving skills.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Yeah! I know some very smart people that can do advanced math, but lack the ability to creatively solve a problem. It just isn’t something we’re taught. Maybe it can’t be taught? I don’t know.

      There is always a solution to a problem. It may not be straightforward or easy, but that doesn’t mean pursuing it is any less worthwhile.

  25. Tawcan says:

    Great stuff, we’re definitely following similar philosophy when it comes to teaching Baby T. He’s still young so no bike for him just yet.

  26. Even Steven says:

    I love that one of the girls is reading the paper upside down, like me sometimes I gravitate towards the pictures as well in upside down form. Cute pic!

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Steven! I’m so happy that someone noticed that! Little D is just learning how to read now, so upside down books/newspapers shouldn’t be an issue much longer!

  27. brookst says:

    I have been trying to teach my 13 year old about the responsibility of money. I think it is beginning to stick. She made a mistake this month, a poor decision, which means she doesn’t have any money for another month. Her father, who lives overseas, asked if she was going to see the new Star Wars this month. She told him she couldn’t afford it. He said he would send her money. She told him no or she wouldn’t learn anything. Must say I am one proud mom.

  28. If you are going to be there for your kids and be with them then BE WITH THEM. Pledge to never jump on your phone in their presence. I see parents even when they do decide to take their kids to Disneyland engrossed with something on their phone. Give your attention to your kids and show them you love them by letting go of the tech so they just might grow up to treat you and others the same later when they are older. It doesn’t cost a thing.
    BTW- Love the bike tip for balance.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Oh man, the phone comment hits a nerve with me. It makes me sad and angry when you take your kid to the park and most of the parents are sitting there on facebook or email. Leave the phone at home and start living.

      Regarding the balance bike, it is impossible to explain how well this works until you see it with your own eyes. Amazing really.

      • stephanie says:

        When I take the kids to the park it is to play. Not play with me- we do plenty of playing at home and they need to learn how to make their own fun. Bring on the wifi!

  29. TomTrottier says:

    To avoid skinned knees (I assume a helmet will avoid knocks up there) the best place for kids, or anyone, to learn how to balance a bike is on a big, slowly downward sloping lawn – like in a park. Remove the pedals & reduce the seat height so the rider can reach the ground with both feet while sitting on the seat.
    Once the rider can balance pretty well, add back the pedals & expand to empty parking lots. Use cones or toys in a rectangular slalom course.
    Then raise the seat so the rider has to come off the seat to put one foot on the ground. This makes cycling much less tiring.
    Teach your kids when you drive about the rules of the road – stop signs. yields, speed limits, turn signs, & signalling. Show how to use them on local streets.
    Then bike a lot!

  30. Michelle says:

    I 100% agree with having your kids be a part of the money conversation/decisions that affect-them! I wish my mom had done this with me instead of trying to shelter me from what was going on financially.

  31. Big Brother went right from balance bike to pedal bike at age three and a half, but he also had a tricycle. Little Brother is having a lot more trouble with the transition. Maybe he just isn’t ready at the same age–but it’s so hard on his shoes! At three and four, they also spend a lot of time riding around in the bike trailer (no matter how much they complain and ask to take the car).

    We read, read, read all the time. They see me reading. I used recommended lists to make sure I’m bringing home books on a lot of topics.

    And I let them see me learning and not afraid to try new things. Maybe I’ll mess up. So I’ll try again. When I was a kid, I was afraid to try new things because I was afraid I would fail, and I was a straight-A student who didn’t like to fail. Trying to keep that fear of failure away from my kids by letting them try things.

    • Mr. 1500 says:


      Your children are going to be world beaters! Reading is just awesome. That is the number one activity I wish I had more time for.

      PS: I love the Big Brother Family Portrait where you are holding the book! You have some crazy hair though! 🙂

  32. Valerie says:

    Perfect timing! I just read a NYT article about the importance of books/reading materials for children (even though no one probably argues against books, it’s nice to be reminded about them!).

  33. Revanche says:

    This is pretty much exactly our philosophy. When asked what LB needs for Christmas (hir first!) my answer is always: Not a thing. Ze has food, shelter, warm clothing, and your love. Ze would love to enjoy your hugs, though.

    Our kids truly do not need a thing other than the basics and our parents’ love and discipline. That’s all we had growing up and it means the world to me now. Because of this, I am able to have the life I have built, from a foundation they gave us. I can’t think of a time or a thing that I felt like I missed out on, except more time with them.

  34. These are great tips!! We started talking about money with my son when he was about 5 years old and now he’s almost ten and has more saved than most of my clients and just opened an investment account this year. I think the best way to teach kids about money and especially investing is to make them actually do it.

  35. Mortimer says:

    These are all great tips, especially the very last one. Every time I get concerned about how things are going with my 3 kids, I usually realize it’s because we’re not spending enough time together. When we all started biking to the park together, this magical feeling of being on a journey together came alive in a way that we seem to lose sight of sometimes.

    When we had our third kid, I think we had the least amount of new stuff and had the best experience. Basically, we had an Ergo carrier and a bunch of new clothes. I don’t know why people bother with strollers. After ditching them entirely and just going with the Ergo, there’s no comparison. And what could be better than having your sleeping and/or alert child snuggled next to you, and still having your hands free? Not much in my book.

    The only thing I would add to your advice is something I picked up in one of the best parenting books ever (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk), which is that when your kids tell you they want X thing, it can be very frustrating for you, especially if you know you will never ever be able to provide them with X. Instead of getting frustrated, fantasize with them. Get excited. Yes, it would be so cool to have X! Let’s talk about what it would be like to have it! I would really love to have it too! I’ve found 99.9% of the time, just exploring that feeling of desire—instead of trying to cast it aside—makes the desire go away and lets you have fun in fantasy land with your kid. (They don’t really expect to get X either most of the time. They just want to feel validated that it’s OK to have these feelings.)

    Thanks again for a great post!

  36. Elaine says:

    I have two kids 5 and 9. My 9 year old reads about minimallism and she gets it. My 5 year old though, still wants me to buy every pink toy she sees in the store. And living in a city where there are stores everything, and my apartment is right above a mall, their schools are next to the mall, there is no escaping the constant lure of spanky new toys, stationeries, etc. So thanks for writing this as I am reading through it and picking out new ways to “braninwash” my 5 year old.

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      I think your “brainwashing” term has a lot of relevance. Not so long ago, when us humans were hunter gatherers, we spend most of our waking ours trying to find food. Acquiring stuff was just what we did most of the time. We had to if we wanted to survive.

      I think that the desire to want stuff and the corresponding dopamine hit we get when we buy something is an evolutionary remnant. Just like the appendix, we don’t need it anymore.

  37. bdub says:

    Kids are not expensive. Parents, who care about the perception of other parents, are.

  38. Katie says:

    I don’t have kids, but if I ever do I will be referring back to this post! I absolutely love the advice you have given here!

  39. This is so true. Kids are only as expensive as you let them be. We have 3 (7, 6, and 3) and aside from childcare, the costs have been fairly negligible. We like to incorporate finance lessons into normal activities like buying groceries or picking out school supplies.

    Our kids are not big into getting things and would rather “collect” their money, as they say. The difference between us and most other families has become very evident this week as we’re visiting family for the holidays. It is amazing how much people spend on their kids (clothes, shoes, toys, gaming systems, etc.), especially when they’re struggling to make ends meet.

  40. Try to tell this to parents handing out $1.4 billion dollars in Australia (with only 24 million population size)… And the 25% of parents that buy gifts to make up for not spending time with their kids =(


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