How Little Could You Spend on Your Child in a Year?

iStock_000015428924SmallWhen a woman is pregnant for her first child, she’ll likely have a baby shower (or several).  I had three baby showers when I was pregnant for my son–one from each side of the family and one from my co-workers.  There was very little I had to buy for my child after these showers.  I got brand new clothes, a stroller, a playpen, toys, blankets, the list goes on and on.

All those items got plenty of use as all three of my kids used them.

Many of the other items I needed like cloth diapers and clothes for the baby in bigger sizes I bought from garage sales.  In my children’s first few years of life, food was the biggest expense.

We Love to Spend Money on Our Children

Yet, I know I am in the minority.  I’ve seen friends of mine spend hundreds of dollars per season on their infants.  Babies grow so quickly that their babies only wore some outfits for a time or two before they outgrew them, so the clothes looked like new.  Then, my friends pay for baby and me exercise classes so they can get out of the house, make friends, and get some exercises.  They may also enroll in other baby classes like music and swim lessons.  The expenses add up fast.

How Little Could You Spend on Your Children?

Considering all this, when I stumbled across an article about Hattie Garlick, a woman who decided to not spend anything on her children in 2013, I had to read on.  In our consumer driven society where we have everything for children from designer clothing stores to classes to iPads, how does someone go so counter society and not spend anything on her children save childcare and medical expenses?

It turns out, quite easily.  Garlick got all of her children’s clothes and gear from friends, family, and sites like Freecycle.  The article specifies that Garlick did not buy any birthday or Christmas presents for her children, but I’m sure that they got items from well-meaning relatives.  My children get so many gifts from their grandparents and godparents that we’ve been able to scale back how many gifts we give them.

Why Does Not Spending on Your Children Make Others Angry?

Even more interesting than the article, though, was reading the comments.  Some people were very angry that these parents didn’t spend money on their kids.  Some argued that the parents had nice clothes and accessories, so they must be spending money on themselves.  However, who is to say that they did not also buy their own items used?

Others argued that they should not have children if they can’t or won’t spend money on them.  Still others put the challenge not to spend money on their kids for a year as akin to child abuse.  They argue that the children will be teased as they grow up and will feel unloved because their parents got them homemade gifts rather than buying them new.

Why do so many people have such strong feelings about how one family raises their children?

Others Support the Decision

Other commenters support the Garlicks’ decision.  One woman argued that this is how children from the 1930s to 1970s were raised.  Children used to have just a few items of clothing, not the vast wardrobes they have now.  Children used to have some Legos, Lincoln Logs, and jacks, and they were happy.  They did not have a large toy room with so many toys they don’t know what to play with.  Instead, they used their imagination and created games to play.

What Do You Think?

What do you think?   Is this experiment bordering on child abuse, or should this family be applauded for removing their children from the fast-track of constant consumption?  Are they teaching their children to be creative and original, or are they setting their children up for future embarrassment if they don’t have all the latest technological gadgets that their friends have?


How Little Could You Spend on Your Child in a Year? — 5 Comments

  1. I honestly don’t see the point in not spending money on our kids. I go to work every day to get my kids (and myself) the things we need in life, as well as have enjoyable experiences to enjoy our time here on Earth. 🙂

  2. We buy too much stuff for children of all ages. Sears sells an automatic baby rocker for several hundred dollars and I still haven’t figured out why everyone needs a Diaper Genie.

    I am anti-stuff. More stuff means means more stuff to clean and less money to save.

  3. I rarely spend anything on my kids…I don’t need to! They’re always getting hand-me-downs from people and they get plenty of toys on their birthday. My sister gives us so many clothes that I have probably only spent $100 on kids clothes in shoes in their lives…and they’re almost 3 and 5! Our biggest “kid expenses” are just healthcare and dental.

  4. I agree with Jane that there a lot of things that people buy for their babies that are unnecessary. We have an 8 month old and we try not to go crazy with buying useless stuff. But I’m not trying to make it a contest to spend NOTHING on the baby. It’s just a balance…and we try to be reasonable.

  5. I am not a mother, but I do think we could spend less on kids in general. We don’t need so much new stuff. Reuse and value what already exists!

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