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Parenting on a Low Income: Money Doesn’t Equal Love

parenting on a low incomeEvery parent wants to do a good job raising their kids.  Many parents with low incomes sometimes worry about how they can provide certain financial based items and activities to their kids. This can cause stress.  Will their kids be as happy as the children of wealthier parents?  Will their kids have to miss out on expensive extracurricular activities?  After all, what parent doesn’t want the best things for their children? 

If you’ve found yourself thinking these thoughts lately, rest assured that parenting on a low income doesn’t ensure an unhappy childhood for your children.  There are a variety of ways to enrich your little one’s life without spending a fortune.  With a little extra effort, your child can have a wonderful and full childhood.


  • Your attention is the most valuable thing your can give your child.  More than they want the latest toy or gadget, your children desperately want your love and attention.  Listen to them as they tell you about their days.  Take the time to watch as they explain the features of their favorite toy. 
  • Arrange for play dates with other children.  Many kids’ favorite memories are of the times they spent with their friends.  Want to build those same memories in your child?  Make sure that they have ample opportunities to get together with their friends or family.  Host two or three of your children’s friends for an afternoon.  If possible, let the friends’ parents reciprocate.  The kids will have fun and each parent will get an afternoon to themselves. 
  • Take advantage of all the things your local library has to offer.  Your local library can be a treasure trove of free or inexpensive activities for your children.  Most libraries have story hours for younger children.  In addition, many offer craft classes or other activities.  While you’re at the library, be sure to check out a travel guide or two about your own city; they are sure to highlight a variety of children’s activities in your area. 
  • Arrange a toy swap for your kids.  Ever notice how your kids love getting new toys?  As soon as the novelty wears off, though, many toys are left to collect dust.  Who wants to spend their hard-earned money on a toy that their little one plays with for a few days and then forgets?  A toy swap between friends or family members can be the perfect solution for this situation.  Invite a few friends over for the swap while requiring each child to bring a present that they no longer want.  (No broken toys please.)  Place each child’s contribution on a table, and let everyone select a new (to them) toy.  Everyone will leave with something new to enjoy without spending a dime. If you don’t have the family or friends, a great way to refresh your toys is to visit a Toy Library, there are over 160 libraries around Australia.
  • Consider secondhand options for necessary purchases.  Some expenses related to raising children can’t be avoided.  Clothing, for example, is a constant need for children as they continue to grow.  You can greatly reduce this cost, however, by turning to secondhand shopping options.  Shopping at Salvos store, resale shops, garage sales and even eBay can be a great way to keep your kids clothed in style for a bargain price.  As you shop, look for items that can fill other needs, too; toys, school supplies, and even electronics can often be found for less than half their original prices. 
  • Spend time on everyday activities: walking in and around parks playing ball games, take your basketball to the local court and shoot a few baskets, ride your bikes along the numerous bike paths, show your children a skill that you have learned like repairing a bicycle puncture, fixing a leaking tap, changing a light globe, brush and grooming the dog or cat, changing the cars window wiper blades.



  1. Ron says:

    Thats a great story Peter,
    Also get down to their level, scrap paper and coloured pencils laying on the floor costs very little, but time but allows you to bond with especially young kids.
    Take time for them and they will make time for you.
    Also look at laybuying presents earlier in the year for christmas and birthdays.

  2. Ron says:

    I would say for healthcare here in Melbourne look for a GP that bulk bills.
    If you have a “health care card” most do. If your on a low income you can fill out the paperwork with centrelink. It takes time but worth it.
    Also Dental, is freely available through the Royal Dental Hospital, near Melbourne University and the Royal Womens Hospital.
    A Low income healthcare card also enables concessional travel on public transport, I believe.

  3. Peter says:

    Great advice Ron, the doctor idea will save a fortune. And the healthcare card should always be taken advantage of if your eligible.