the hidden consequences of frugal parenting

the hidden consequences of frugal parenting

One Sunday morning during Margsy’sΒ  weekly swimming lesson a fellow swim mom (is that even a thing?) stopped to tell me how cute she thought my daughters bathing suit was and to find out where I bought it because she’d like to purchase a similar one for her kiddo. Now, I’m pretty open about my frugal lifestyle choices and will gladly tell you that x, y or z is used with great pride but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel judgement from time to time.Β  You see the judgement I often face is not necessarily about our choice to live this way but more about the perception or maybe assumption that by living frugally we’re somehow parenting our kiddo incorrectly or depriving her in some way.

I was met with a little- okay a lot – of judgement that day and to be frank, it sucked.

It didn’t suck because I was being judged for buying, using and frolicking in used garb.

It didn’t suck because my lifestyle choices were scrutinized.

It didn’t even suck because we were assumed to be cheap, poor, underprivileged and somehow unable to provide for our little.

It sucked because my parenting choices were judged and it was assumed that I didn’t want what was best for my child.

The Hidden Consequences of Frugal Parenting - Frugal Living | Frugal Parenting | Frugalism | Parenting | Motherhood | Parenting Anxiety | Lifestyle Choices | Toddlers | Personal Finance |

See, once I informed fellow swim mom about Margsy’s used bathing suit I was met with questions and comments about our lifestyle and how I cope with not giving her the best of the best. There were sympathetic references to understanding “our situation” and hoping our “situation” would improve so that moving forward we’d be able to buy into mainstream consumerism.

Holy assumption that buying new is the only way to provide a kiddo with the best right? I find it so so interesting that giving a child “the best” has come to be intertwined with a families ability to provide materialistic and consumerist goods. Anyone else?

But, what if I want to buy used? What if I consciously opt to buy things that other people’s filthy (sarcasm clearly) kids have worn? What if, *gasp* I technically have the means to buy her everything new but simply prefer not to? Does that somehow make me a bad parent?

What if my ultimate goal as a parent is to raise a kid who could care less about materialism?

What does a frugal momma do when she’s left pondering complex frugal questions? Well, she turns to google and finds awesome conversations like this one over at Mr Money Moustache. I’d be totally lying to you if I told you that Mer and I had it all figured out with regards to how we plan to manage our frugality and minimalistic tendencies as this kiddo ages. At this point in her life, Margsy has no flipping clue that her shoes, Tonka truck, play house or blackboard were pre-played with or worn by other littles. She’s just so thrilled to have stuff to throw and lick (they legit lick and try to eat everything) and has zero awareness of this narrative that “new” is best that consumerism has done such a great job at brainwashing our society to believe.

In a perfect fabulously frugal world my kid would grow up to love personal finance the same way her father and I do. She’d scoff at buying new and prefer to bank that money to invest or use for something more meaningful moving forward. Ideally, and this is a stretch, my kiddo would plan ahead and retire at let’s say 35. One can dream right?

In all seriousness though, frugal parenting in this world can be kinda scary folks. It’s scary because living a lifestyle that is even remotely outside our mainstream culture’s definition of “normal” can be met with raised eyebrows, harsh criticism and inevitable judgement.

So, I’m about to get pretty vulnerable right now. Read on if you want to find out some of my very real fears about raising Margsy in our frugal family.

My fears and anxieties about frugal parenting

Margsy will resent us. Imagine for just one second that you were forced to wear used clothes and play with used toys as a child only to find out that your parents very well could have afforded to buy you all that stuff new? Would you in someway resent them? Technically, we can afford to buy our little pretty much anything she needs new. We just choose not to. We barter, dumpster dive and hit up local second-hand shops to basically satisfy all of her needs. The money we save on satisfying her needs is actually accruing in a bank account so she can pursue education without having to in-debt herself when she’s older. One of our major life goals was to make sure that this kiddo would have her entire education paid for and in a few more years we’ll have been able to check that goal off our list. But, will providing her with an education fund negate the fact that she never got “new” stuff? Will this kid turn around at 7 and tell us that we sucked as parents because we never gave her cool new stuff? It might sound ridiculous but this in fact is something I think about often. Can forcing frugality on kiddos somehow lead to parental resentment and feelings of deprivation in young children?

Margsy will get bullied. Kids can be cruel. I know it’s a statement that is thrown around a lot but as a former teacher I saw with my very own eyes how cruel kiddos can be to each other and more importantly how damaging it can be to self-esteem, agency and self-efficacy. I often worry that when the time comes Margsy’s peer group will meet her with harsh judgement. Sure, she could potentially keep it to herself. Although, until she is old enough to truly understand the whole concept of new vs. used she likely will have no idea but what happens when she does understand? Will she feel ashamed by lifestyle choices that were forced on her by her parents?

Margsy will overcompensate and plunge herself into a lifelong consumerist bender. Mer thinks I’m overthinking this one and creating an irrational fear that our daughter will be so potentially damaged by our lifestyle choices that she’ll run off, credit cards in hand and buy out a local T.J Maxx or Target. You see, what if she wakes up at say 18 and reflects on her childhood and says these crazy parents of mine made me wear used stuff, play with used toys and now I’m choosing to buy all. the. things for myself? A stretch perhaps but I often wonder if frugal parenting over the long-term has the potential to mold young children into young adults who crave the newness that consumerism encourages?

How we plan to manage and cope with these frugal fears

We don’t have a plan. Not a solid one anyway. You can’t plan anything for your kiddos. Trust me. Instead, you can lead by example, instill values and encourage kids to explore and perhaps challenge ideas that society has prescribed as “normal”. We’re hoping that our kiddo will grow up to quite literally not give a crap about consumerism. Ideally, she’ll be comfortable enough in her own skin to disassociate her own self-worth from what she owns. We hope and cross our fingers that by leading by example we’re instilling good money habits and consequently an awareness or at least an acknowledgement that consumerism in many ways is a social construct.

How will we do it? Well, we plan to keep on keeping on and lead 100% by example. Children learn by examples set by their parents. Hopefully, Margsy will see and appreciate that we’ve created a safe, happy and stimulating home without spending a fortune, attempting to keep up with the Joneses and give into consumerism more, more, more philosophy. Hopefully, she’ll see and appreciate that we’ve never deprived her of anything she’s ever truly needed while also saving for life goals that are important to us as a family. Hopefully, she’ll see and appreciate that happiness does exist beyond what you own and what you can buy.

The Hidden Consequences of Frugal Parenting - Frugal Living | Frugal Parenting | Frugalism | Parenting | Motherhood | Parenting Anxiety | Lifestyle Choices | Toddlers | Personal Finance |

Here are a few more frugalicious posts from TTBH for your reading pleasure:


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  1. July 13, 2017 / 7:11 am

    Great post! I enjoyed reading another frugal parent’s fears and opinions about choosing this way of life.

    I also am a big fan of second hand, like yourself we can afford to buy new but if I can get the same item for a fraction of the price then I am all for it and consciously choose the second hand item. I like to think of myself as savvy – not cheap!

    I have two girls 10 and 7 who are fully aware where a good proportion of their clothes and toys from. I am pretty careful what I buy and only buy things that are in good condition or that I can revamp so it really isn’t a problem. We have a lot of fun with it.

    I have taught them that it is a clever way of saving money and that we are also being green and are helping to look after the planet. They are fully on board and proudly tell where things were from.

    Let’s see what the teenage years bring and if they still have the same attitude πŸ™‚

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:14 am

      I’m so so glad you took the time to leave me this comment! Thank you kindly for reading and sharing your families experience with me. We plan to do much of the same actually – she’s still quite small and super content with whatever we get her! So glad to hear that they are on board and hopefully moving forward (hello teenage years) things will remain much the same for you!

  2. Nicole Kauffman
    July 13, 2017 / 7:44 am

    Love this look into the inner workings of frugal parenting. I’m yet to be a parent, but I love hearing stories like this-so much encouragement when others are willing to get real!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:59 am

      Thanks for reading Nicole. I think all parents question their parenting philosophies at some point or another!

  3. highheelsandhomework2017
    July 13, 2017 / 8:00 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. I LOVE thrift shops and yard sales, and we are always looking for great sales. In fact, my 9-year old gives me disapproving looks at the grocery store if the “amount saved” isn’t adequate to his standards…lol. It’s not that I don’t buy them new things (Wal-Mart had a sale on shoes for him at $3…I bought two pairs for school)… but I would rather buy them used. Why spend $50 on a pair of shoes when you can spend $3? Our best deals this summer have been a pair of really good condition Adidas for $5, and a pair of Nike cleats for $6.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:52 pm

      I love that your 9 year old is so money conscious! So refreshing!

  4. July 13, 2017 / 8:01 am

    This is a wonderful post! I believe that the example you are setting for her will do the trick and your daughter will grow up to be very appreciative of everything you gave and did for her. A paid for education is amazing! A lot of children don’t get that. Kudos to you both for saving for your daughter’s future πŸ™‚

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:52 pm

      Thank you so much Susanne! We’re doing our absolute best to crush our goal of paying her schooling! We’ll get there πŸ™‚

  5. brooks
    July 13, 2017 / 9:02 am

    I think it will really depend on your child’s personality as to whether or not your fears are realized. I really enjoyed your post. I am not frugal but would like to transition, at the very least, into more mindful spending. The thought that you’ll have college paid for the time she’s ready is amazing and very inspiring to me!! Thanks for sharing.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:50 pm

      Mindful spending is an awesome stepping stone!! Thanks for reading Brooks!

  6. July 13, 2017 / 9:20 am

    I’m honestly more worried about how “swim mom’s” kids will turn out if she is teaching them that living their best life means always needing the newest crap. Your plan sounds perfect flexible and at the same time well thought out. I think you will raise a financially healthy (and environmentally friendly!) young person.

    I was raised frugally and even now as an adult reflecting back on my childhood, I feel I was provided with everything I needed to thrive. I certainly didn’t need all the newest crap to make me happy. Consumerism and materialism is a trap. Keep up the good parenting!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:50 pm

      I know right? I was a little concerned myself. Thanks for sharing your perspective about being raised in a frugal family – so comforting!

  7. July 13, 2017 / 9:33 am

    People are so quick to judge- it’s ridiculous. I am not considered a frugal parent at all- (Truth be told- I am known to pay for toll highways just to avoid traffic…) but my kids do sometimes take hand me downs- and we return the favor. Even though I buy a lot of my kids clothes- I would never ever want to look down at someone for their lifestyle choice. If you can get something second hand why not? The cost of living is so high now- save when you can. Kids grow out of things so quickly. I love fashion- and even as an adult I am known to go to second hand stores to see what cool finds there are- and I am teaching my daughters the same. When I was a kid, I was raised with frugal parents and I won’t lie- that is part of the reason I am split on the issue…I was the kid that got made fun of for hand me downs or not being able to have the latest and greatest toy. Those experiences did make me into the tough nuts- fashion loving person that I am…and it gave me appreciation for both sides of the coin… so I wouldn’t change it. I admire those who live frugally. You aren’t denying your children anything- you are raising them just fine! Great post!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:49 pm

      Thank you so much Irene!! Thanks for your continued support.

  8. July 13, 2017 / 9:43 am

    I haven’t purchased a single article of clothing for Jonah since he was born. Just yesterday I picked up two giant shopping bags of used Lego Duplo blocks from another mom. There is no reason to purchase new right now. That time may come, but why spend money when you don’t have to? As always, I love and learn from your blog!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:48 pm

      Thank you so much Dana! I love it when you pop in!

  9. July 13, 2017 / 9:56 am

    I’m not even a parent but I get judged on my frugal living all the time and I know how frustrating it can be. My mom is one of the main people who criticizes my lifestyle, oddly enough. She feels like when I buy used stuff that I’m basically “settling” or has that “oh you poor thing, let me buy you stuff” attitude when I want to buy used. If I say I’m going to the thrift shop for some clothes, she insists on whipping out her JC Penney credit card and charging up a couple hundred dollars on clothes for me. What she doesn’t understand is that I don’t want new clothes! They are a waste of money to me. I don’t care about trends or fashion or any of that, I just need something comfortable that covers my body. I’ve chosen not to have children, but at a time when I contemplated the possibility, this was a big part of my decision. I knew that if I had kids, I wouldn’t want to spend endless amounts of money on stuff they would use for 2 weeks. I knew that by making that choice I would be opening myself to immense amounts of criticism, and my lack of desire for dealing with such issues was definitely on my deciding factor list when I chose to forgo reproducing. If the kid’s needs are met, no one has any right to judge. As far as your worries about what will happen when Margs gets older, you’re right, you can’t really plan for that. If she decides to jump off the consumerist deep end as an adult, that will be her choice to make. But chances are, if you continue to lead by example and show her how amazing frugal living can be, I’d be willing to bet she’ll be on board with it. If she goes to school with her used clothes and such, I doubt she’ll face much scrutiny unless she goes around telling people that everything is used. You clearly look for quality items, not something torn up and stained, so how would anyone know that the items weren’t new unless someone told them, right? Even so, if you instill a sense of self-confidence in Margs as she grows, she will be able to meet bullies where they are and not be hurt by their words. If she is confident and comfortable in her skin, people won’t bother her because they will know they can’t. Honestly, my mom didn’t raise me frugally, and part of me is actually disappointed! Now I’m totally comfortable thrift shopping, buying used, and selling my old stuff instead of just trashing it, but it took me a long time to get to that point. My mom really pushed the “inferiority” of buying used, and it took me a while to get out of that mindset, but as an adult, I’m glad I’ve found frugal living. I don’t think I could make it without it!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      The assumption of inferiority is so so frustrating right?

      • July 14, 2017 / 8:33 am

        Yes! Especially because when I think about all of the people who only buy new and who are constantly trying to keep up with the latest trends, I get really sad because I think of all the waste, and the countless hours people have to work and often be exploited to produce these products that aren’t even important! There are some things I will only buy new, but those things are few and far between. I only do that when absolutely necessary!

  10. July 13, 2017 / 9:59 am

    What a wonderful post. I understand how vulnerable you must feel expressing these concerns to the world. I myself do not have a child, but am the result of frugal parents. Your concerns are definitely valid.

    While you as the parent may face condemnation from their consumer-centric parents, I think that you’re doing the right thing. We all don’t grow up to be doctors, lawyers, and youtube stars. Teaching your children that they can still “want for nothing” despite how much money is in their bank account and HOW to attain that Is one of the hardest, noblest, and most important lessons you can impart on them. Especially since it will most certainly lead to other people’s judgement of YOU as a parent. It shouldn’t… but unfortunately our society gets off on dividing ourselves.

    However, (maybe not all children, but most) kids recognize that they have what they need and want, they’re having fun, and as long as you’re genuinely connecting either them and spending time with them, they’ll see that and not your receipts. Other kids will most likely bully them, but when they hit college and beyond, when money is theirs to earn and spend, I think the light switch will turn on and those bullies will be laughed at as fools. They’ll be able to take care of themselves and their future children, no matter what. Which means you did your job as a parent.

    The worst people I’ve ever met were born to parents who simply threw money at things.

    Either way, I think there’s a definite shift in culture happening across the world. Being frugal, minimal, and non-consumer-centric is beginning to outweigh its counterpart. It’ll be quirky, then neat, then smart, then finally chic. Your kids as adult might not ever get a taste of the American Psycho consumerism that we had growing up. As long as you teach them to function as adults, who cares?

    Anyway, stay strong. Talk to your kids about it. Tell them why you do things this way and not the other way. It they don’t “get it” that’s on them. You still did your parenting thing 100%, which is usually more than the other moms.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      Thank you SO much! It’s so interesting to get the perception of someone who grew up in a frugal household!

  11. July 13, 2017 / 10:06 am

    We don’t have a plan either but I worry about constantly buying her toys rather than letting her enjoy the ones she has. Also, people often buy her toys, and while I appreciate it, she does not need so many!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:46 pm

      Yes, toys can easily get out of hand. We’ve got a pretty solid system to keep toy clutter to a minimum but it does get a little overwhelming from time to time.

  12. mamaonmainstreet
    July 13, 2017 / 10:15 am

    What an eye opening post! It’s amazing to me that other people would feel inclined to judge your parenting style! As long as you have a happy, healthy, well-loved little one, that is all that matters. There are some amazing things you can purchase second hand. It isn’t anyone’s business what you choose to do for your family. I also agree that raising a child to NOT focus on the material aspects of life is a wonderful thing. So many people are too focused on this nowadays. Unfortunately, the “good” things in life become overshadowed. Beautiful post, and great job mama. Your baby is lucky to have you.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:45 pm

      Thank you SO SO much. Such kind words. They are very much appreciated <3

  13. July 13, 2017 / 10:22 am

    I just don’t get why other parents have to judge you or make comments like “swim mom” did. If you can’t say anything nice, keep it to yourself… and quit being so judgy! We’re all doing our best to raise our kids how we think they should be raised and everyone’s experiences are different and shape the way they parent. I am totally for buying second hand if I can, especially with things for my daughter as she is only going to use the stuff for a short period of time before outgrowing it. Some stuff I do buy new, like stuff that is hard to disinfect or clean thoroughly, (or that I just can’t resist but it’s usually an impulse buy… Target is my nemesis) but for the most part I buy second hand. I too agree with Amy, I’m more concerned about how “swim mom’s” kids are going to turn out but I would NEVER say anything to the parent about it. It’s their kid, it’s their parenting style. I think if you want to be a second-hand shopper it’s great to let your kids know and a great way to teach them about recycling, being frugal when you can, that it’s not necessary to buy new all the time, and that there are kids out there that may be less fortunate than they are but to not look down on them. I just hope I can teach my daughter to be compassionate and kind without judgement.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:42 pm

      You bring up an extremely important point about compassion. I’m not necessarily outspoken about our financial situation to strangers (although I blog about it HA!). But, that means that despite being very forthcoming about buying used I’m rarely telling people I do it voluntarily and could technically buy new if I wanted. That judgement is lost on me BUT what about the family who are forced to live this way? They may interpret the situation far differently ya know? It’s really quite sad.

  14. Candice
    July 13, 2017 / 10:33 am

    Enjoyed this post. It brought a comfortability that it’s ok to be frugal and not feel I’m depriving my children with the “finer” things in life. I noticed my children (who are all under the age of 7) still take joy in buying things from the Dollar store or playing with used toys as if they are brand new. It’s not that we can’t afford brand new toys or clothes but we choose to put that money into their furture where it matters! Thanks for this post it’s needed for others to understand our frugal perspective!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:40 pm

      Great philosophy Candice! Thank you for reading!

  15. July 13, 2017 / 10:34 am

    Wow, this is an interesting post. I honestly never thought about these potential consequences of being frugal. Personally, my parents are very brand conscious because they buy into the idea that they’re giving us the “best” when they can buy us the big names. Somehow though, I ended up much more frugal than them, so it’s like you said, you can’t really go in with a plan. Of course, my frugality has to do with my environment as well as how I was raised. When I went to college, my roommates were very frugal and now we’re all broke twenty-somethings, so we have to save our money in order to become financially independent.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:39 pm

      This is very interesting. It seems like the reverse rationale ya know? Thanks for reading and sharing Nicole.

  16. July 13, 2017 / 11:29 am

    I share your sentiments as we (me and the wifey) have been frugal at best and cheap at the worst during the earliest days of our parenthood when we were still coping with the “newness” of being parents and it was really hard to balance what needs and wants were. We learned little by little to the point that we didn’t really care much about what other people said. Everyone was welcome to an opinion but we’re glad we didn’t let those opinions change our decisions being frugal (or cheap, depends on who you ask really).

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:37 pm

      Such a great attitude Mackie! Thanks for stopping by!

  17. July 13, 2017 / 11:58 am

    We’re pretty lucky, our peer group tends to all like to buy used if possible. I do worry about that too. I know I sometimes overcompensate with my child because my parents were very frugal by necessity, but at the same time I think if I knew that my parents chose that way to give me an education that was paid for I would appreciate it.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:37 pm

      So glad you shared this with me Kristen! Thank you for stopping by!

  18. July 13, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    Great post! SUCH a bummer that the other parent thought the best thing is to buy new all the time. I’m not sure what I would have said, but I definitely disagree. The best thing is to teach your kids to use their money wisely, and spending so much on a new suit they will outgrow in a couple months is not always the best idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:35 pm

      Thanks for reading June.

  19. July 13, 2017 / 12:08 pm

    This is very interesting! I don’t have children yet, but I love reading posts like this about different parenting styles. Definitely good food for thought πŸ™‚

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:35 pm

      Thanks for reading! Glad you found it interesting!

  20. July 13, 2017 / 1:03 pm

    Second hand never means ‘second rate’. I don’t think we bought our daughter (now 15) any more than a handful of new things when she was little. Here, the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) nearly new sales are a wonderful and much-supported phenomenon. Anything we needed on top of hand-me-downs from my niece was purchased there at a fraction of the new price. When kids grow so quickly, second hand is second to none. So, stick to your guns and don’t let anyone try to persuade you that their approach is better than yours.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:34 pm

      I love that statement “second hand never means second rate” Absolutely categorically true. Thank you so much for sharing lady!

  21. July 13, 2017 / 1:18 pm

    I think it’s so important — especially in our world today — to teach our children to be frugal. And just because you’re living frugally doesn’t mean you aren’t fulfilled, successful, or happy! What matters is always on the inside.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:33 pm

      Such wise wise words! Thank you for sharing!

  22. July 13, 2017 / 1:19 pm

    I feel sorry for that mother…the joys of a good thrift store find are abundant!!!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:33 pm

      They are aren’t they? I honestly do not for one second believe that she meant any harm. She simply believes that we must give our kiddos the best and to do that we have to buy new!

  23. July 13, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    You post was interesting to me as we mostly buy second have with the exception of shoes that I buy for next to nothing clearanced. I ran a parenting forum years ago and remember so clearly this topic blowing up and I was just baffled by it. back in the day no one would have thought twice about second hand or hand me downs. Things was and clean up. Kudos to you for not living in debt and giving your little an education that will not leave her swimming in debts of her own.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:30 pm

      I imagine it can become pretty heated. I think notions of what is “best” varies a lot from one parenting philosophy to another! Thanks for reading!

  24. July 13, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    It gets harder as they get older but hopefully they will understand at some point xx

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:29 pm

      We shall see I guess! Thanks for reading!

  25. Melanie Sparks
    July 13, 2017 / 3:37 pm

    The fact that you’re thinking about this in such depth shows me you want the very best for her. I don’t consider myself frugal or a frugal parent (but that might change soon). I totally buy used swimsuits — some with tags still on them — and used school uniforms. It’s a no-brainer to me. I think it’s simply being wise about resources because resources are not endless.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:29 pm

      Thank you so much Melanie! What an incredibly kind comment.

  26. July 13, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    I bought new and used when my son was younger. Especially in the early days, there was stuff he used for months and then was completely out of that development phase. I do buy him new things and used things, i’m more of a buy less things mentality then anything else. His favourite toys are the used ones from the neighbours, not because they are particularly good, but because the neighbour big kids gave them to him.

    I can say from personal experience in high school my mother telling me, this is my money. not your money. and resenting her. But i’m extremely independent and ambitious as an adult. I can completely see where she was coming from.

    That said at some point your kid is going to want a new toy, and you’ll just have to ask yourself in that moment if it’s more detrimental to get it for her, or to not get it for her.

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:29 pm

      Yup. And when she does, we’ll deal with it. I’m not opposed to buying it assuming she understands that new isn’t a necessity know what I mean?

  27. July 13, 2017 / 4:07 pm

    Great post! Pre-paid college education? That’s amazing! As far as what your child will think of your frugality, I can tell you that mine (age 11 and 15) have no problem with being frugal. I NEVER buy name brand (clothes or groceries). We live in a fairly wealthy area where everyone has North Face jackets (everyone but us) and Nike t-shirts. My son used to ask for a Nike shirt (one with the Nike swoosh on the front) and I kept telling him “no.” Then I ran across one (just like his friend’s) at Marshall’s and got it for $6.00! I told him how much I paid, and he even bragged to his friends about what I paid for it! LOL That made me laugh, and proud, that he knew the value of a bargain. My daughter loves thrift-shopping (and she’s 15). So far, so good. I think if you teach your kids to value what they have (no matter where it came from) then they won’t really care. Besides, unless they tell them, there’s no way anyone would know they were used anyways. Keep doing what you’re doing πŸ™‚

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:28 pm

      Thank you Lisa! We’re doing our absolute best to equip her with a hefty college fund. That is far more important to us than giving her material things.
      Also, I’m super impressed with your kiddo – I would have been so so proud too!

  28. July 13, 2017 / 7:04 pm

    It’s a shame that people are so judgmental! My youngest son mostly wears his brother’s hand me downs, and my daughter used to wear clothes a friend passed on to her. We had money to buy new, but that’s just the way we choose to live. My husband likes to go to the local thrift store and find great golf shirts; he enjoys great finds!

    • July 13, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      I think the judgement comes from the idea that buying used comes from this idea that only new things have value. It’s really an unfortunate consequence of consumerism.

  29. July 13, 2017 / 8:14 pm

    Great post. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. We have raised our boys to be “careful” with money and what they buy with it. Although we can give them basically anything they want , we haven’t. My youngest (almost 16) recently took a DS on a travelling soccer team trip (I accompanied on a bus). When all the other kids were on their “new” cell phones, he got out his DS from when he was 7 or 8 and started playing it. I heard some rude comments…..also, “what do you expect, have you seen his archaic phone?”. Yup, kids can be mean. It didn’t seem to bother my son, who told me later that they were all asking to play the DS on the way home. He didn’t share because they had initially picked on him. I was okay with that….not okay with the snarky comments of kids using technology that they aren’t even paying for (the parents are paying). So, yes, your concern about bullying is real. Hopefully, your little one will know how to deal with it when needed….also comes from observing your modeling (how did you handle the swimsuit issues?) She’ll be more and more atune to how you are handling things as she grows and sees you deal with life somewhat out of the mainstream. My oldest is very frugal. He just graduated college with no debt! Yes, that was an object for us, too – for all three of our boys. While visiting Vancouver on a trip (with his Aunt, who took him there as a graduation present), he was so happy to have visited a thrift store and bought a jacket! His Aunt is frugal, too. It made us all laugh (in a good way) to see his pride at finding a discounted and second hand coat! I think it is okay to worry and have concerns about how your chosen lifestyle will affect your child – it is something all parents – if they are doing a good job- worry about. As long as you don’t send mixed messages as she grows, I think you’ll be find and she’ll learn to appreciate living a frugal life. Thanks for the post!

    • July 13, 2017 / 10:00 pm

      This is such GREAT advice! Thank you so much for sharing. I actually read this to my husband and he was blow away. <3

  30. July 13, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    Awe, I don’t have children yet but I did love this post!

    • July 13, 2017 / 10:02 pm

      Thanks for reading Rachel! πŸ™‚

  31. July 13, 2017 / 10:13 pm

    Thank you for this post. It is a subject I haven’t seen anyone tackle yet. We are heading into middle school next year and my husband is very nervous. He wants me to go buy clothes from the department store to keep our son from being picked on. I don’t really have the budget for that. I could use some money that I have set aside for a family trip or something like that but I don’t see the point.

    I wold rather spend money on things to do with my kids or stick it in their college fund.

    • July 14, 2017 / 6:41 am

      Thank you for reading Sara. Can ya’ll maybe wait and see how it goes? Do your kiddos have to wear a uniform? In our area all school adopted a uniform policy which I’m sure will help a ton.

  32. July 13, 2017 / 10:28 pm

    There’s nothing wrong with being frugal. I was raised that way as well, but we were able to save money for more important items. There’s no reason to get brand new things all the time anyways!

    • July 14, 2017 / 6:42 am

      Agreed! Thank you so much for reading!

  33. July 14, 2017 / 12:07 am

    Love this post, this is something that definitely comes to mind for me as a parent, but I think living a frugal life is a great lesson for your children in itself. I think the pros outweigh any possible consequences! Thanks for sharing this!

    • July 14, 2017 / 6:44 am

      Thank you for reading Desiree! I agree that it’s a great way of life for kiddos – it’s far more than just saving and not spending. I think shifting the focus away from materialism allows for kiddos to experience childhood far differently ya know?

  34. July 14, 2017 / 6:50 am

    Aw… that’s so sad:( As a parent myself, I know that there’s nothing worse than feeling you’re being judged based on your parenting skills! My adbice would be do what feels right to you and your family ans Nevermind the rest! Your kids will be fineπŸ’–πŸ’–

    • July 14, 2017 / 6:52 am

      Thanks for reading Lindsay!

  35. July 14, 2017 / 7:02 am

    I really appreciate that you identify potential problems too. I really think it’s cool that you are trying to buy used even when you don’t have to. Nothing wrong with that. I think my biggest worry would be the bullying, but there’s also no guarantee that that would happen. Just keep being you and see what happens!

    • July 16, 2017 / 8:56 am

      Bullying is a a very real problem. It scares the daylights out of me. Having said that, there are kiddos who are bullied for a multitude of reasons and in some cases you simply can’t avoid it from happening. What’s most important (i think anyway) is teaching you kid to come forward if they are in the situation. Far too many kids suffer in silence and breaking the stigma of being a “tattle” is so so important. Thanks for reading Kristin.

  36. July 14, 2017 / 7:07 am

    Move to Japan!! There is no judgement here for putting your kids in used clothing, in fact it is common practice and totally embraced. The only items of clothing I buy my kids are pants and occasionally pyjamas, because I don’t like the pyjamas here, and once in a blue moon I buy them a new outfit. I personally believe that children don’t need a lot of new clothes; it is wasteful and teaching them bad habits. We start the “reuse, reduce, recycle” lessons here early. The same for toys. Now I will put my hand up and say that I do buy my kids more toys than I should – a lot more! – and I am working on curbing that own bad habit of mine, but when they were babies and toddlers we used mainly hand-me-downs. I never bought my son a train set, because he received two large containers of train tracks and trains when he was 7 months old. They were trains a friends son had used and loved. I am about to pass them on to my friends infant son. I love the hand-me-down custom in Japan and by the sounds of it, Ireland (my home country) is going the same way. I think the perils of spoiling a child are far worse than the perils of frugality!

    • July 16, 2017 / 8:57 am

      That’s so cool! I’m really impressed that it’s such a normalized part of Japanese culture! Such a wonderful shift in attitude for sure!

  37. July 14, 2017 / 7:11 am

    This is such a great post! I believe you are doing something great! It’s our job to teach our kids life skills and materialism isn’t one of them. My parents saved money for my education as well and it was the greatest gift not to be starting my life in debt. Children won’t remember what toys or clothes they had…at that age, all they will remember is the quality time they spent with you!

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:39 am

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Sabrina! We’re doing out absolute best πŸ™‚

  38. July 14, 2017 / 8:08 am

    My goal in life is to be able to buy everything new, and still have enough money to do things like save for college for my future kids. I personally don’t buy used (my parents never did either, so it could just be the way I’m raised) but if you feel it’s right for you, go for it. At the end of the day, they’re your choices and your life and it shouldn’t matter what anyone else says!

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:40 am

      Is there something specific about buying used that you don’t like? Asking out of curiosity πŸ™‚

  39. July 14, 2017 / 8:25 am

    I’ve never thought about buying second hand clothes though I have worn them and my child does too, because we get it as a gift. I believe that if the second hand clothes looks damn good, why let it go to waste. I mean, this momma complimented you on your child’s second hand swimsuit, what’s her problem now. You don’t have to tell people that you are wearing second hand stuff if you feel it would make your child feel sad.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:41 am

      EXACTLY. Not only is it good for the wallet but it’s great for the environment too since it reduces waste! Thanks for stopping by Melissa!

  40. toandfroblog
    July 14, 2017 / 8:29 am

    To best honest with you, this is not something I’ve ever really thought about. But you definitely have some valid points. I am always worrying about the consequences my parenting actions will have on our daughter down the road. I hope that one day, being financially conscious will spark the finance conversation that I wish I had at a young age, both at home and in school. Great post!

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:42 am

      Thanks for reading! I think no matter what lifestyle choices we make we’ll always question our parenting decisions know what I mean?

  41. July 14, 2017 / 9:06 am

    Super post! I grew up wearing hand-me-downs. We always loved getting a big bag from older cousins, because it was almost like shopping! And also whenever we’d see them they’d always gush over some memory they also had in the shirt or dress we were wearing.
    I think I’m more proud looking back on things like that than any new item of clothing or toy I got.
    Reminds me of Dolly Parton’s song, Coat of Many Colors, just not as extreme.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:43 am

      I love everything about this! Thanks for sharing!

  42. July 14, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Such a great post!

    “What if my ultimate goal as a parent is to raise a kid who could care less about materialism?” le gasp!

    We are shifting toward frugal minimalism and I already buy 95% of my toddler and my clothes used and I always get so excited and feel so relieved when I meet other moms who are doing the same. I worry about all the worries you have, too, and I have a feeling they’ll all happen to some extent, but I’m hopeful that since we try to teach her why we do these things (or why she can’t have the new toy she wants, etc.) in a way that seems legitimate to her then she will grow up to appreciate the rare new things she does get and focus more on life than on things.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:44 am

      Thanks for reading Sarah!

      If you don’t mind me asking what motivated you to pursue frugal minimalism?

  43. July 14, 2017 / 10:43 am

    This was really interesting to read! I’m not a parent yet, but I’ve heard so many stories of judgement for all kinds of reasons. I can only imagine how frustrating it is! Sounds like you’re doing what’s best for your family and starting her life out debt-free is a huge gift that she will be incredibly grateful for one day!

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:45 am

      Thank you for your kind words. We’re doing the best we kind. In some respects we’re acknowledging potential issues and preparing ourselves to deal with them. They very well may never happen but if they do at least we’re prepared know what I mean?

  44. July 14, 2017 / 11:02 am

    Love this article. I’ve felt the exact same way before, even by family members. My daughter is 16 months old and I have a hard time buying anything new for her because she grows so fast. Both of the bathing suits I bought her this year were second hand. One even still had the tags on it- which is funny to me considering a parent bought it brand new for their child and never wore it. I grew up only wearing second hand clothes. In 9th grade I started feeling “less than” because I wasn’t wearing the brands “everyone” else was, so I feel like every child will go through that at some point.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:46 am

      Yup. I think it’s normal that at some point kids will go through that phase ya know? Unless there’s a huge shift culturally and socially by the time younger kiddos get to their teen years I imagine it’s pretty inevitable.

  45. July 14, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    This is such a great post! Most of my daughter’s clothing is either hand-me-downs, or thrift store finds. I few things we’ve bought new, but I always cringe at the prices. I’m hoping for her, it shows her to appreciate what she has and not to worry about buying the latest and greatest things. Btw, my daughter is a rainbow baby too πŸ™‚

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:48 am

      Rainbow babies are the absolute best thing in the world <3 <3 <3

  46. July 14, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    Wow! Great post! This is pretty thought provoking and I have never really thought about this before as I dont have children. But it is a very real concern in the modern day and age. I want to teach my children not to be wasteful for sure!

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:49 am

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words!

  47. meganjohnson86
    July 14, 2017 / 12:28 pm

    This is a good post. Women need to support other Women! No matter their parenting choices! Being a Mom is HARD! And when it comes to buy clothes for kids, who cares if it’s used, they will grow out of it in 5 min anyway! So why spend the money on something new!

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:52 am

      Yeah literally 5 minutes right? It’s just crazy how quickly they grow! Thanks for reading Megan!

  48. July 14, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    Love this! It is something I have worried about but, it’s sad that adults place these materialistic goals on children. We set the standards… You are teaching your daughter a much more valuable lesson and helping the planet at the same time. Wonderful read.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:52 am

      Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words <3

  49. July 14, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    I loved this! My daughter’s and son’s birthdays are this weekend and we have a small simple party for them with family most years. We do not buy big toy presents and we get questioned a lot about this. We buy books, school supplies, or cheaper clothes we find. Our parents get offended we do not buy them toys. It does not make sense to me. Most toys get thrown out in a few years anyway.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:55 am

      Thanks for sharing this Sarah! I unfortunately completely understand. There’s this social expectation of lavish gifts and what not for birthdays and other celebrations isn’t there? You just do YOU lady and tune out that noise!

  50. July 14, 2017 / 4:08 pm

    Oh man, I told my not to buy new stuff as a baby although she did. My kids are so much younger than my little ones we do not have hand me downs. (Sadface) Favorite store once upon a child.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:53 am

      Thank you for reading Chrissy!

  51. July 14, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Exactly we dont need a lot of stuff to give our kids the world. All we need to do is give them awesome memories like vacations, or doing something special Memories last but things get old or break.

    • July 16, 2017 / 10:47 am

      Memories are the best <3

  52. July 14, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    Very interesting perspective on frugal living. Go with your heart, expect a few bumps in the road and do what you think is best for your child. That’s what’s important and you will handle the rest.

    • July 16, 2017 / 8:54 am

      Thanks for your kind words Jill. Life wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without a few bumps in the road ya know?

  53. July 14, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    We are in a position of having to be more frugal than we used to be out of necessity. Luckily, I already have the hand-me-downs needed to clothe everyone from the older kids who are now done growing. No one needs much of anything new. However, my oldest is 18, still in high school, but he earns his own money and does jobs with pretty good pay and longer hours as he has grown up learning a lot of skills farmers value in hired help. He is buying stuff at prices I can barely stomach. His new pair of shoes was $120 and he will only wear a certain brand of jeans. I hope it is just his teen brain and not a permanent problem, but I can tell you that your one fear is certainly not irrational!

    • July 16, 2017 / 8:53 am

      Hi Crystal! Thank you so much for stopping by. Geez, 120$ for shoes. Have you asked why he wanted that particular brand? I think social pressures are pretty high around that age ya know?

  54. babiestobookworms
    July 15, 2017 / 12:02 am

    I hadn’t considered a lot of these. I appreciate the sudden rush of kid’s consignment stores popping up in my area. I feel like people around me are doing a lot more second hand shopping, at least where kids’ clothing is concerned. I hate buying clothes for my daughter that are full price. I always look for bargains or second hand, especially because she grows so fast! I hope she will learn to search for the best deals.

    • July 16, 2017 / 8:52 am

      So glad to hear you have consignment options in your area – it’s so helpful to have a few different places to go to when you’re looking to buy clothes and other kids stuff. It’s such a great way to keep costs down isn’t it?

  55. July 15, 2017 / 1:45 am

    I don’t have children yet, so this was definitely an interesting read. I’m sure whatever you do as parents, your sweet baby will appreciate.
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

    • July 16, 2017 / 8:51 am

      Thanks for reading Lily! We’re doing out best πŸ™‚

  56. darlingceo
    July 15, 2017 / 7:56 am

    Very interesting. I believe there are just as many risks of NOT living a frugal life style (plus you wont’ nearly have as much money!

    • July 16, 2017 / 8:50 am

      Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful weekend!

  57. July 16, 2017 / 1:38 pm

    I’m a huge fan of frugal parenting. I have long believed in minimising our waste, spending less (kids clothing can be $$$!), and using our money on experiences rather than material possessions. Of course, there’s merit and positivity around material possessions, and I like to buy quality things, and products that really bring me joy, but for the most part, second hand and the less is more approach is how we go about life. I haven’t had many negative experiences of it, though I definitely do sometimes feel like I could be judged. Thanks for sharing your fears so openly!

    • July 16, 2017 / 1:53 pm

      Thanks for reading Laura! πŸ˜ƒ

  58. Nikhila
    July 17, 2017 / 10:40 am

    Very interesting. The pictures you’ve included in the post are so adorable.

  59. July 17, 2017 / 10:26 pm

    Oh, I love this post so much. Personally, I love it more from an anti-consumerism standpoint. My question is, how have you handled grandparents who want to GIVE ALL OF THE THINGS. Or have you had to? That’s a big issue in our home (my in laws), and I’m not quite sure what to do about it.

  60. July 18, 2017 / 1:49 am

    I’m so glad that I can respond to this, because our kids are now grown and lived the frugal lifestyle and survived with style “rocking it!” As they reached teenaged years and clothing became important, we gave them a clothing allowance. If they wanted to save their money for six months to buy that pair of fancy air Jordan shoes or a trendy outfit, they could, but they realized that they could find some amazing clothes at thrift stores, and mainly chose by themselves to shop there.

    I think it really made a difference to them when they found something that cost $5 and was beautiful – and then saw it at Nordstroms for $60-$200.

    We all do buy new undergarments – well, just because!

    Our eldest is a professional who dresses in designer clothing that often costs less than her undergarments. Two that are in their 20s get asked all the time where they got their awesome clothes. Their friends are so jealous! YES! So jealous!

  61. Sandy van Buren
    July 18, 2017 / 9:24 am

    Love this post! My husbands friend shamed us for not wanting to move into a bigger house when our daughter came along. He actually said that the child might grow up resenting us for having such a small home!
    Now, our home may not be large but she has her own space and as we never planned on having more than the one kid, we think it best to stick with our $ 30.00 mortgage right now (yes, that’s THIRTY a month! – you read that right!).
    Our daughter is almost 4 now and thriving because of all the attention her parents can give her while this friend of my husbands is in the mids of a horrid divorce and saw his wife and children move out of his huge house (which is is having trouble affording right now) and into an appartment. I guess Karma strolled by and just couldn’t pass him over!

  62. July 19, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    Ignore stupid judgy people and just have honest conversations with your kiddos about what matters. Minimalism and being frugal is about being able to enjoy time spent with each other and not focus so much on material things. If your kids don’t understand or feel less fortunate, they can get a job and buy into all the material BS, but some day they will understand what really matters and understand that you were doing what was right and doing it out of a place of love.

  63. Louisa Currier
    July 19, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    I grew up the child of an ex antiques dealer , so the value of the “new” wasn’t really on my radar until after I’d been in school a few years. My Mum bought second hand out of necessity, which I think does alter the mindset a little. It definitely was a hammer blow to my self confidence as a teen to never have the things my friends had, I was bullied over it and certainly felt like a second class citizen. I can think of a hundred occasions like your swimsuit moment where my Mum answered “it’s second hand” and I just wanted the ground to swallow me! The frugal mindset certainly limited my horizons. I have a degree, but when I was at university I struggled to give myself permission to buy the things I needed for my studies. I internalised the message that consumerism was morally wrong, but also that I never deserved the things others took for granted, which obviously resulted in a lot of internal conflict. I still am a bit of a hoarder, because when you grow up with the message that what others throw away is valuable, it makes throwing things away very hard. I’m trying to raise my daughter to think about the value of the things we buy and to make considered purchases, and make the odd investment in something special. I still but second hand often, but I don’t treat it as the only option available .

  64. July 19, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    I think, in general, you hit the nail on the head. But… I also think part of it is that people don’t like the thought of buying used undergarments/swimwear because they think the clothes are unclean. People think twice about used footwear for the same reason. It’s one thing to live frugally and to buy used pants and shirts, but I think most people draw a line when it comes to their underwear.

  65. Annette
    July 21, 2017 / 5:20 pm

    When reading this it rang so many bells, all good.
    When I read about your fears and anxiety that sometimes has your questioning your frugal choices, I can confidently answer you with,
    ‘no she will not resent you, no she will not get bullied and you can become a consumerist when buying secondhand as easily as you can when buying new by buying more than you need’. I know these things because my children, all six, bar one, my first son, were bought up wearing secondhand, hand-me-downs or homemade (it was hard to buy little boys clothes that were not stained from good use 20 odd years ago, but that’s another story). My children did not resent me because I lived by the philosophy, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, most of my wardrobe is secondhand or sales rack. Bullying- others didn’t bully them because most of the time they didn’t know and if they did know, because they asked, the others would be jealous because they couldn’t go and get it themselves. As for becoming a consumerist…… Lol. Comsumerism isn’t about buying the biggest and best, that’s ego, it’s buying more than you need and you can do that buying secondhand just as much as when buying new.
    My eldest daughter, now 26 and a mum of 2 gorgeous daughters, is frugal not only with the things she buys for her daughters and herself but also for her household. Honestly I think the only furniture in her house that was bought new was her lounge. She learnt that you can make your home beautiful with secondhand at less the a quarter of the cost leaving you to be able to afford things like overseas trips to visit family and friends (she lives on Nevada and we live in Australia). My eldest son will happily take his friends clothes that they are disgarding because ‘why buy new when your friends have worn it twice and you can get it for free’.
    As my children were growing up we bought factory seconds furntiture from auctions (social media wasn’t around to buy secondhand easily). At one auction we bought a leather lounge suite and a complete 10 seater solid mahogany dining suite for $1200, there was nothing wrong with them that you could tell and if bought from a shop would have cost us over $9000. Currently the nicest room in my house now is my bedroom, 100% secondhand (except linen). Why pay more when you can buy smart and afford more life long memories and life changing experiences.

  66. July 22, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    Interesting read! When I was growing up, my parents were frugal but I didn’t even realize it. I always had enough to eat and wear. I never worried about any of my basic needs. And I can see now as an adult how their choices allowed me so many other opportunities in life. Oddly enough, we always bought clothes new. My parents aren’t into second-hand anything, just very careful about what they do buy. I don’t have children but if I do, I hope they’ll embrace frugal living too.

  67. Renee
    August 29, 2017 / 11:59 pm

    I raised 3 kids this way. The boys never gave it a second thought. My youngest has 45k saved toward his first home after only 3 years as a chef( working 2 jobs now by choice not necessity) and still lives a frugal lifestyle. His Senior year high school he out grew everything. I offered him $100 to get himself some new things. He said mom lets just hit the thrift stores but I need your help. One afternoon and $96. Later he had 7 “new” outfits. And we got him new underthings from ebay…seconds. He was very happy.
    On the other had my daughter told me from 16-18 I was cruel. Now she is frugel and just paid cash for a 700 sq foot mobile home(On a McDonald’s training manager’s salary $8.65/hr 30-32 hrs a week.) She learned well her housing costs are the $120 month lot rent and power. Water and garbage included in lot rent!
    Im proud of them.

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