Everything on a budget—raising grandkids on a budget

If I had been on board the Titanic, I probably wouldn’t have been in the steerage section, and I certainly wouldn’t have been in the first class section with the “swells.” I would have been in the area somewhere between steerage and second class (if there was such a place).

I have worked hard most of my life. I grew up on a farm raised by my very hard-working parents. We never had much money, but we always had the things we required for life—food, clothing, shelter, love. Occassionally, we would go on a camping trip with my mom’s parents or take a day off from the farm to go “up north” to see my dad’s parents.

My grandparents were important parts of my life and my development. I saw two sides of the world through my grandparents.

My maternal grandparents were from the Twin Cities. They worked hard and had good jobs which paid well. They weren’t “rich,” but they made an easy second class living. They owned their own home, car, RV and had weekends off.

My paternal grandparents on the other hand, were living well below the poverty level as far as income went. They worked very hard, had a huge garden and their own sawmill. They lived in a basement that they had built in the side of a hill on their land. They were always going to finish the rest of the house, but my grandpa died of a heart attach before they were able to do that.

water pumpI only ever remember them living in that unfinished basement. They had no indoor plumbing so we used an outhouse and had to pump the water by hand. Grandpa would never buy anything unless he had the cash to pay for it. They existed on very little, but they had a huge family that they raised.

I was closer to my mom’s parents than my dad’s, but there were obvious benefits to seeing both of their lifestyles.

Being raised by my parents, I saw both the compromises they had to make to stay together when they disagreed on financial matters.

My dad is still very “tight” with his money and he still works very hard, even though he retired from dairy farming and raising cattle many years ago. He still farms over 200 acres.

My mom is more like my dad as she gets older. She holds onto her money a little tighter than before. She has always been a good budgeter though. She could always seem to make $20 go pretty far at the grocery store. Of course, we raised our own beef, so that saved us a lot of money.

If you are accustomed to one way of living before you add a grandchild to your life, you are going to want to learn to budget differently.

Budgeting for a grandchild

budgetingIt may not seem like you would have to think much about this, but if you are not used to buying diapers, baby food, food and clothes for growing kids and teens, you are going to have a rude awakening if you don’t set up a budget for these things.

You may be living on a fixed income. That makes it hard to add another person into the mix.

You may feel you can’t make the ends meet.

I can’t tell you what things you will need for your grandchild or what things you can cut out of your current expenses to help you make the changes you will have to.

I can tell you that there may be some financial helps available through your county social services department. You may be eligible for a small cash stipend, food assistance and medical assistance.

This is not the time for pride to stop you from asking for help. Many county social services agencies have help for people taking care of children when the parent is absent from the home for whatever reason.

If you attend a religious organization, you may also be able to seek some help through them.

My spouse and I are getting very good at finding deals at garage sales, online swap and sales and sales at Walmart and other retail stores. In fact, we were able to get dresses on clearance for $5 each! That’s quite a deal since our grandchild will only wear dresses!

Food on a budget

canned foodPurchasing food can be an ordeal anytime, you don’t have to have an extra mouth to feed to feel the pinch at the checkout.

There are a lot of discount supermarkets where you can get high quality food at a lower price. One of our favorites is Aldi. If you watch television at all, you have probably seen their advertisements. You really can save a lot of “bucks” by shopping there. Their produce is good and it is the least expensive I have seen around.

That being said, don’t discount your local grocery story, either. They can offer some really good deals, too. You just have to watch for the sales.

Clipping coupons is another way you can get food and certain products cheaper. But watch out! Sometimes you can purchase an equally good “generic” brand and for a lot less—even with using the coupon.

farmers marketDon’t forget about seasonal farmer’s markets. Sometimes the food might be a bit more expensive, but you know that it was raised locally. A lot of times—at least in my experience—the food is less expensive!

Again, don’t let pride keep you from asking for help. If you need to, utilize your local food shelf. The people running it are not there to judge, but to help.

Clothes on a budget

garage sale clothesAgain, garage sales, online sales, friends, family. There are always ways to get very nice clothes for cheap or even free. Growing up, a lot of my clothes came from relatives or garage sales. Once a year at the start of the new school year, my mom would take us kids out school shopping. That was the only time we got a new outfit or two from a department store.

Everything on a budget

Budgeting isn’t always easy, especially if it is something you are not used to doing, but it can be done and you can have success in saving money if you watch for deals and remember that not all the wants are needs.







  1. Hi Karin, I have a friend who is raising her Grandson> She has had him since he was 3 weeks old and he now 11. This site is so wonderful and I will be sure to tell her to come to visit.
    I will also be back as I really enjoyed my visit here. i especially like the water pump photo
    Thank you

    • Thank you for sharing the site. It will be growing and growing as I have many topics in mind that will, with hope, help grandparents (and maybe a few parents, as well) in their journey.

  2. Hi Karin,

    Such a great thought and post on how to save money and make a budget to live a happy and stressful life in future. Yeah, you can save it also for Grandchildren.

    • Thank you for your comments! Budgeting is hard for most of us anyway, but I am hoping this will help someone!

  3. Hi Karin,
    I absolutely love this post. Good on you for raising your grand-daughter and for wanting to help others out. Grandparents are such an important part of a child’s life. I’m so grateful to have had mine around throughout my childhood and even now.

    • It isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing (except I would love to win the lottery—i Think—LOL).

  4. Wow sounds tough how your paternal grandparents lived. Both of my grandparents (paternal and maternal) lived through the II world war and had to ration everything. When I was a child I remember them saving all sorts of things (yoghurt containers etc) “just incase”. There are some good budgeting tips in your article!

    • Living was tough during those days, but I got to see strength and fortitude and those things made me be able to do what I am today in raising my granddaughter!

      Thanks for the comments!

  5. Hi there interesting read. I absolutely agree regarding the local farmer markets. In Virginia we have many and you can get a whole lot of stuff for $40 way more than the supermarkets. And the food at the farmer’s market is just better because it was usually picked not too long before you brought it. My daughter lives with my mom so I totally see your niche because that is a reality. There are so many costs that as a grandparent you have forgotten because you thought you were done with parenting — and then that grandchild get dropped in your lap!

  6. Great article! I was a single mom raising 2 boys! That was not easy. I still am very much into finding good deals! Garage sales are one of my most favorite pass times. (When I am not motorbike riding)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *