5 Ways to Save Money with Kids Under Five

Sustainable food makes for a cheaper grocery bill! If you’re lucky enough to have the space, a vegetable garden and a chicken coop are an endless supply of fresh food!  It’s been proven kids who garden at home build skills which improve their awareness of the environment and facilitates their interest in learning.[i]

1. Chicken Coop

When my kids were younger, we hand raised three little chickens who grew big enough to roam the backyard on their own during the day. It was a lovely daily adventure checking for eggs and sometimes having to go looking for them in weird places! When the sun went down, they’d bunk in for the night in our hand built 5m2 enclosure to keep them safe.

TIP: You could use the corner of your backyard to make use of the existing fence line to cut back on costs for your enclosure. What you’ll need:

  • A few rolls of chicken wire mesh
  • A wooden post concreted in
  • A few lengths of wood
  • A staple gun
  • Some perching logs and sticks

I purchased nesting boxes, but if you’re clever you’d be able to build them yourself. A few fake eggs are also a clever tool to teach the chickens where to lay while they are young. The egg yolks were bright yellow and so fresh. Not to mention, I saved at least $10 a week not having to buy store eggs!

 

2. Vegetable Garden

We also had quite the effective vegetable garden. By encouraging the kids to help plant, water and care for the garden, it wasn’t a rare occurrence to see them picking off tomatoes or cucumbers and eating them raw. I loved that all the vegetables had their very own uniqueness; I once had a perfectly round zucchini!

TIP: Start small. Your first vegetable for your garden should be sweet potato due to how easy and cheap they are to grow. You can use a store-bought potato chopped in half, place it into a jar of warm water until you see roots sprout and it’s ready to plant in your garden! I’ve even skipped this step placing the chopped potato straight into the dirt and they still grow. You can up-cycle tyres by painting them bright colours, filling them with dirt and planting sweet potatoes inside. The vine can grow beautifully vertically, or across the ground. Once it begins to die off, you know they are ready, shake out the tyre and collect your potatoes!

Our food wastage ended up in the home-made compost bin up-cycled from pallet wood, and over time the soil went back into the garden. Nothing beats organic vegetables and it could be saving you up to $50 per week!

 

3. Repurposed Old Cubby House

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When my grandmother was young, she had no choice but to hand-make, re-purpose, reuse and up-cycle. Today it’s becoming less of a financial necessity but more of an upward trend. Facebook Marketplace and websites like Etsy, are the perfect platforms to buy affordable second-hand products to make upcycled goods. When my kids were young, my favourite project was the giant rundown cubby I saw advertised for free and decided to give it a fresh new look.

TIP: To up-cycle a cubby house, firstly check the integrity of the structure walls and floor. For wooden cubbies, a couple coats of outdoor wood paint will do the trick. Unscrew the window trimmings and accessories, spray paint them in bright colours, and once dry re attach with new screws. To finish it off, the perfect creative space can be made with square plywood painted with blackboard paint.

The cubby would have cost me a fortune to buy brand new. It lasted for years until we decided to sell it to a new home.

4. Up-cycled Furniture.

Giving new life to old wooden furniture is a sure-fire way to save money! With a little effort and a lick of paint I created a whole new bedroom package for my daughters’ room.

TIP: When up-cycling wooden furniture, I recommend using an electric sander. Some hard to reach areas will need to be sanded by hand with a coarse sand paper. A white primer coat of paint will offer a good foundation before choosing your colour, or you could opt for a liquid wood stain for a more natural-wood look.

5. Handmade Costumes.

When you attend a school dress up day, the kids in the home-made costumes are by far the best! What counts the most is that you give it a go. It’s going to be unique and kids don’t expect perfection, they just want you involved.

TIP: Head to your local fabric store or find some old clothes in the colour of your character. Draw an outline or use a t -shirt, shorts or dress as a template. Sew it together by hand or machine if you’re confident (it’s easier than you think). It’s the highlighting features of the character that make the costume stand out, like the hair colour or the hat, not the perfect stitching!

My daughters’ favourite costume was when we re-created the character Merida from “Brave” using a few bits of blue and gold material sewed together and some wash out red hair colour. Other times I was less prepared sending her to school dressed as a sheep made of cotton wool buds glued onto an over-sized T-shirt.

By using what you have at home and hand making your kids book week costumes, you can save between $20.00 to $80.00.

Value every moment.

My children vividly recall the days of tending to the vegetables and caring for our chickens. What started out as an activity to encourage my children to go outdoors, grew into new memorable life experiences. They learnt to contribute to our home, care for animals and our land.

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[i] Bachelors Degree Online-proven-benefits-of-outdoor-learning

 

2 Comments

  • Donna

    Bahaha having chickens will not save you money sorry! The amount these guys eat in grain to lay above & beyond vegie scraps costs nearly more than what you would save in eggs! They rest seems a good idea though.

  • Stephanie Parkinson

    Hi Donna, thank you for your comment. I do have to agree there..a good quality grain can be costly! I was fortunate to have only three chickens who were not too expensive to feed. I feel i received the most value from my chickens, watching my children learn to care for them, and our time together outdoors. – Steph

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