Children – Natural Minimalists

Children are naturally frugal, simple beings. They crave food, shelter, and loving attention.  Pretty basic.

As adults, we tend to complicate our kids’ lives unnecessarily, which can easily lead to overspending on them.  We’re the ones who give them

  • too many choices (a room full of toys or a closet full of clothes)
  • too many scheduled activities (because mom and dad get bored at home)
  • too much stimulation (tv and computer on all day)

And with the tv stimulation comes commercial viewing.  And with commercial viewing comes… I know you know… a big case of the wantsies.

My frugal advice?  Follow their lead. Find joy and entertainment in your surroundings.  Encourage creative play with what you already have available.

Kids don’t have to have expensive stuff or a full social calendar to be happy.  Let them create.  Let them play.  Let them be.

What works for your kids for good, cheap fun?
More frugal ideas can be found at  Cents to Get Debt-Free and Life as Mom.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


  1. You are so right!

    When my children were younger they would play with my pots and spoons while I made dinner and be content as ever. We also love making forts in the living room, or all around the house. So much fun!

  2. I love your picture! My kids have had the most fun this week playing in the dirt! My husband and friend of ours delivered 4 truck loads of dirt on Sunday and I haven’t been able to get them out of it since! Simple pleasures!

  3. Great post! They are a few things that I would do different if I had it to do over with my boys and this is one of them.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Such a good post Amy! My kids will go outdoors and collect rocks and dig worms for hours. I used to feel bad that we didn’t have a fancy schmancy swing set for them, but they seem to find plenty to do 🙂

  5. That is the way it is at christmas, you could by them an expensive gift and they get more enjoyment from the box it came in!

  6. What a great post! I love the ideas, and perfect timing with lots of Summer days ahead of us. 🙂

  7. some of the best play things are those that package the great toys

  8. Fabulous compilation of ideas here!


  9. Amy, I just discovered your site and love it! I’m all about frugalness (is that a word?). I know how I’ll be spending the summer…sitting on the front porch watching my kids ride their bikes in the driveway – they do it rain or shine!

  10. You are so right about that. Simple is best. When we are fortunate to have access to a large appliance box, my 3 kids think they’ve hit the jackpot! Who needs toys when you can have a box to make into a house, car, boat for hours of creative fun.

  11. Legos, paper and crayons/paint/colored pencils, pen and paper for creative writing have been some that my children have enjoyed being creative with. 😀 Last year they went around and gathered all kinds of sticks and made a fort outside. 😀 Great ideas, Amy!

  12. So True! We are the one’s that complicate everything

  13. Linked to you in my roundup. :>)

  14. So I know you posted this last week, but I just read it, so I can still say it’s a coincidence.

    I’ve been looking for a sandbox for the midget for almost a month now.

    Tonight, we were planting the garden and Midget was playing in the empty lot right behind our house–in the sand.

    Why on earth do I need to spend money (even though I was only going to spend $15-20 bucks), when she has a GIANT sandbox all to herself!!

    DUH! ” )

  15. I agree! I sometimes think my family is thought of as a bit odd because we’re not involved in near the amount of sports and other organized activities as many others. But my kids LOVE unstructured playtime! I’ll give it to them – it’s easy for me as well.

  16. This is so true. If I give my girls have a few blankets, they are happy for hours making a tent/house. Our expensive toys are hardly ever used.

  17. Put up a tent in the backyard!

    We don’t have cable. The children can watch dvds.

    If you have a dvr that allows editing, you can record shows and edit out all the commercials. I did this when we still had cable. I then recorded the shows to dvds. There are no commercials.

    My son is turning 6 soon. I asked him if he could have ONE thing for his birthday, what would it be?

    He wants his own scriptures with his name on them.

    The other simple things they enjoy? Digging, playing in the sprinklers, playing with clay, and painting with watercolors (and watercolor pencils).

  18. You definitely have it right! We tend to make our lives so much more complicated than they need to be and miss out on all of the wonderfully simplistic joys in life!


  1. […] buying your kids stuff. Instead, give freely of your time.  Children are minimalists:  it’s your time and attention that they want, not your stuff.  (Yes, even the older […]

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