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Take the Live Free Challenge for a year: Don’t buy your kids anything

Hattie Garlick has a plan.

For 2013, she decided on a unique New Year’s resolution, to try to raise her son Johnny as cost-free as possible for a year.

That’s right — she’s not going to spend any money for anything that’s specifically geared towards her 2-year-old son.

The Baby Cheapskate Guide to Bargains: How to Save on Blankets, Bottles, and Everything Baby
The Baby Cheapskate Guide to Bargains:
How to Save on Blankets, Bottles, and Everything Baby

Hattie is documenting her adventure on FREE OUR KIDS: THE TODDLER AND ME AND OUR YEAR FOR FREE, and is encouraging others to join her cause against rampant consumerism and useless money-wasting.

She’s not going without.  She’ll be using sites likeFREECYCLEto obtain gentle-used kids’ clothes, feeding Johnny the same food that the adults are having, and otherwise just making do with what they have available.   She admits that there may be some bumps or whoopsies along the way, as some purchases will either be unavoidable or made by mistake before proper research can be done.  But she’s going to do her darndest to pull it off, and maybe save a ton of money along the way.

Let’s take a look at the groundrules that she’s laid out for herself:

  • No purchase of any child-specific food.  If the adults won’t eat it, then the kid won’t eat it.  If the kid won’t eat it, then they’ll just have to get over it.  Reminds Web Watch of the old Dr Spock adage of always giving your child a choice as a way to teach empowerment: “Would you like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a spanking?”
  • No clothing purchases.  All clothes will be hand-me-downs.
  • No toy purchases.
  • No out-of-home adventures that cost money, such as miniature golf or those indoor inflated jumpy zones.  Kids need to learn to play outside and use their imagination.
  • No disposable diapers.  As Web Watch has shared previously, THE AVERAGE FAMILY ONLY NEEDS ABOUT 20 CLOTH DIAPERS to get through.
  • No paid haircuts

There are some exceptions that are already noted:  childcare and child-appropriate medicines are already noted for being necessary parts of being a parent.  Some things you just can’t get for free or substitute an adult item for.  And shouldn’t.

Living cost-free for a year is a living experiment.  If something slips through the cracks, it will.  But that’s okay – if they can even go 90% of what they expected to do over the course of the next year, they should be pretty proud of themselves.

It’s not like they’re GIVING UP DISNEY FOR A YEAR. That’d just be silly.