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Frugal Living Tips For Parents: Living Simple

Updated on October 4, 2012

Thank you Sasha!

I want to give credit where credit is due. This article was inspired and suggested by a good writing friend of mine; Sasha is her name (Mama Kim 8) and she is a writer on HubPages and a parent who had some great ideas about this subject. She passed them on to me and asked me to write this article. Sasha, your wish is my command.

Living frugally is a necessity for many married couples with children. Expenses mount exponentially, or so it seems, when there are children in a home. Parents are constantly balancing budgets and trying to make the paycheck last through the month.

Living Simple is really the only logical program to adopt unless, of course, there is an abundance of money and expenses mean very little. The frugal living tips that are listed in this article will at the very least save money; it is hoped that once a couple begins to see the advantages of Living Simple, then they will continue to find new ways to cut expenses by living frugally in every facet of their lives.

Living simple!
Living simple! | Source

MAKE YOUR OWN BABY FOOD

Do you know how easy it is to make your own baby food? Okay, not as easy as going to the store and buying pre-packaged foods, but still, relatively easy, and it saves money.

· Decide what you are going to use; choose between grains, vegetables, fruits, berries and meats.

· Put the ingredients in a blender and blend to the consistency you desire.

· Feed to your baby!

Now how tough was that? The big health kick lately is Smoothies; you are just making a Smoothie for your baby! Make it in big quantities and freeze some for later use! Pretty cool, huh?

USE HAND-ME-DOWN CLOTHES

If you have several children then it’s time to follow the time-honored tradition of hand-me-downs. We did it when we were kids, and if we couldn’t find what we needed from our siblings then the neighbors were more than helpful in providing clothing from their children.

Have you seen the price of new clothing for kids? Paying $50 for an outfit for a two-year old is lunacy and totally unnecessary. As for gender-specific, forget about it. Of course you aren’t going to put a girl’s dress on a boy, but little children look fine in tops and pants for either girls or boys.

USE CLOTH DIAPERS AND WASHABLE WIPES

Now we will find out whether you are ready to adopt the frugal way of living. Remember, there was a time, and it was not that long ago, when there were no disposable diapers. Mom and Dad washed cloth diapers and re-used them on a continual basis. I did it! You can too!

On average you will spend close to $2500 on disposable diapers by the time your child is potty-trained. The cost of cloth diapers is about half of that total. You really only “need” disposable diapers when you are away from home.

As for washable wipes, they are so simple to make and will provide you with hundreds of wipes per item. What you need:

· 2-3 flannel blanket

· 2 cups of water

· ½ cup baby oil

· ½ cup baby wash

Take the blankets and cut them into squares. Fold them neatly and put them into a baby wipe tub. Mix the water, baby oil and baby wash together and then pour over the baby wipes. Seal the container and they are ready for you to use. Wash them when they are dirty and make sure you use bleach to kill germs, and they are ready once again.

ELIMINATE EXPENSIVE TOYS

Living Simple is more than just about saving money. It is returning to days gone by when families actually spent quality time together, and kids learned to enjoy the great outdoors.

I like a good toy as much as anyone else. I’m a big fan of Legos because they teach motor skills and foster critical thinking. Believe it or not, I also like video games for many of the same reasons. However, I am not fond of any toy that becomes a babysitter and is used for hours on end.

When we were kids we invented games outside. We would explore the outdoors, play games of tag and kick-the-can, and do role-playing games in a fantasy world. We not only got physical exercise but we learned to interact with other children.

We also went to the park a great deal of time with our parents. You know, that family-bonding thing that seems to be disappearing from the current scene? Most parks have Big Toys so why do you need big toys at home? Living Simple is about a lifestyle change; get rid of the old ways of thinking and do without the expensive toys.

MAKE CHILD’S SCHOOL LUNCHES

When I was teaching I would quite often go to the lunchroom and have lunch with the kids. I was astounded by the number of kids who either bought their lunches or had pre-packaged lunches in their lunch box. Talk about expensive!

Every penny counts when you are living frugally. You can buy ingredients for a home-packed lunch on Sunday for half what you would spend on pre-packaged lunches or lunches purchased at school. Half!!! Buy five bananas, make five fruit cups, a loaf of bread and lunch meat for sandwiches, and you are all set for the week. And please, no soda pop! It is bad for your kids and expensive.

USE RECYCLABLES FOR CRAFT PROJECTS

This was one of my favorite activities with my son while he was growing up. There are enough recyclables around the average house to keep kids busy for hours. My personal favorite is the empty toilet paper roll; we built some great bridges using those. What else do you have around the house?

· Plastic pop containers? Try making birdfeeders out of them!

· Pipe cleaners or coffee filters?

· Popcicle sticks? We made some really cool bridges with those.

· Empty aluminum cans? Decorate them and they become storage containers.

· Old t-shirts? Teach your kids to tie-dye!

The bottom line is that you have enough supplies in your house right now to keep the rainy day blues away indefinitely, and when you are finished your kids will be proud of their creations.

One other thing you might do is show your kids science experiments using many of these items. You can make parachutes and airplanes, rockets and cars. We made a great car using a flat piece of wood, four old CD’s for tires, and a mouse trap and string for propulsion. Now that was a great project!

BUY KIDS GARDENING TOOLS

Here is a great idea that will pay dividends all during the growing season. Buy your kids their own set of gardening tools, and then build an easy 4x4 or 8x8 raised garden bed. Designate it as their gardening space. Help them plant the seeds of their choice after they have prepared the soil, then put them in charge of watering and weeding. I promise you they will have smiles on their faces when the first seedlings appear.

Do you have scrap lumber around the yard? Help your kids build their own greenhouse. It doesn’t have to be large; just big enough to put some plants in early in the growing season. Your children will learn responsibility and also learn about plant life, and at the end of the summer they get to eat the bounty of their labor.

Our backyard raised beds
Our backyard raised beds | Source

WHAT OTHER IDEAS CAN YOU THINK OF?

There is so much you can do to cut back on expenses and get in touch with a simpler lifestyle, all the while spending more quality time with your children. That’s what it’s all about, right?

I did not include coupon clipping but really, that’s a no-brainer, right? I can’t imagine a parent not clipping coupons to take advantage of great shopping deals.

I did not include giving your child a piggy bank and teaching them the value of money, but you should! Give them daily chores appropriate for their age, and teach them about saving money. Set up a lemonade stand out in the front yard and help them earn their own money.

Well, there is a great deal I did not include, but there will always be another day and another article. This should be enough to get you thinking about frugal living and Living Simple.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for all the money savers, Bill. They are great suggestions and help others live within their means. Thanks for the write!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, you manage to be first almost every morning...thank you my friend.....I will have a little gift for you next week. :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      The best advice that ToysRUs don't want you to share. The best tips Walmart would love you to forget. The best words, that Costco cant live up with. Thanks to Sasha, you and Bev too! Great hub for the family! You are on a roll of frugalness. Still wondering how did Josh do it! I'm addicted to your hubs and cannot quit!

    • eddy4me profile image

      Eddy Jones 4 years ago from Wales.

      Brilliant ;what a great read and I am handing on to my family.

      I am also saving on my own bookmark on Word;I have all various categories there and save from anywhere not only on Triond or here.

      Well Billy I shall have to award you with that Up up and away!!!

      I wish you and Bev a wonderful day.

      Eddy.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, as usual you are so very wise and thank you to Sasha for giving you the idea to write this article. I have done a few of these in the past with my kids, but have to admit a bit embarrassed that right now my house does look like Toys R Us exploded. Everybody, in

      Coding my husband and myself has bought the kids a ton of toys in the few years of their little lives. I must say this though, we do go through the toys at least 3 times a year and donate to those in need. Great article as always though and have shared, voted and tweeted too!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joseph, that makes two of us; I see your name pop up with a new hub and drop what I'm doing to read it. Thanks buddy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, thank you my dear; I thought I saw a new hub for you and then is went unpublished....I shall check again.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you brighten my morning each and every day. Thank you my dear; you aren't alone with the toys thing; when my son was growing up we did the same thing. Of course, I had money to spare then; today I would have to adopt these measures because money is tight.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 4 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      These are great tips!! In my area, we also do a clothes swap...we all have children of various ages and swap hand me downs throughout the neighborhood. We always use recyclables for many different things and especially for school projects. One recent project we did was use scrap wood to build a birdhouse and honestly it was really easy.

      I love the idea of gardening beds for the kids!!!! I will definitely keep that one in mind. We do have a few gardens throughout that we all work on together, but it would be fun for the kids to make their own!!!

      Voted Up, Interesting, Useful, Awesome, and Shared!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Great tips Bill, as children we made out own toys much of the time. It was fun and educational!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, while I was writing this I was remembering building our own hydroplanes and then going to the neighborhood pool and racing them....great fun! Thanks buddy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Patty, I love the idea of a neighborhood swap....I might have to add that! Thank you my friend; it's always nice to see you stop by.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill -

      What? No Video Games that kids will grow tired of in weeks? No I-Pods to destroy their hearing? No designer tennis shoes at $100+ per pair? I say, old chap, you've got to be putting me on!

      We used to go into the barn loft and make forts and castles out of bales of hay. Or, do the same in my grandfathers wheat field by rolling around and mashing down a section to hide within. I recognize that requires imagination (and living in farm country) but don't kids still have a little imagination left? That's right, they don't have to...it's all on TV!

      Great Hub, my friend!! Of course, we'd expect nothing else!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      Great ideas Bill! We do many if these things. We also have garage sales or sell old items to second hand shops. we recycle and get most of our books and DVDs from the library. Also we take part in free family art days at local museums. There's really a lot of ways to have fun and save money! Take care! Voted up Kelley

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Love it Kelley! Great additions to the discussion. Thank you as always!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Rich! We made forts in the hayloft too.....hey, was that you across the way, the kid I didn't know? Sorry about hitting you with a rock; didn't know it was in the snowball. LOL Great fun buddy, and it didn't cost a dime.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Some really great and very realistic ideas here. The one thing I did was avoid expensive toys. I think when you have to economize you do. And following this set of rules would work great. Voted UP.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, what I found was that kids appreciated and played with the less expensive toys, especially if they had been raised on less expensive toys all of their life. Sure, their friends had the rich toys, but I just explained that we couldn't afford them and that the less expensive ones were just as fun....I don't think my son ever really cared.

      Thank you!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      This was perfect Bill! ^_^ Thank you so much for writing this and you covered everything wonderfully! -I'd expect nothing less from you ^_^ Voted, shared and all the good stuff in between ^_^

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Sasha! Glad you approved since I basically borrowed all of your stuff. :)

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      You added your own super wise take on it all, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Plus I love all the references to your son, very sweet! ^_^

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you my dear! I think it's time for me to advertise you a bit on Facebook. :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      billybuc...It is not easy to manage without using this kind of information to help stretch the dollar. Too often there is not enough money to last through the month.

      Having grown up in the same time period you did I see that our entertainment was similar. We played all day outside and until it was pitch black at night. There was never a lack of something fun to do. One or the other would come up with a new game.

      And today, the expensive toys need not come on the scene. My son-in-law has just made a train and a busy board for my grandson and he love those better than any of his other toys. Boxes are also a huge favorite as well as a bunch of plastic dishware with lids his Momma has stashed in a cupboard just for him.

      thank you for sharing this, billybuc...Parents will love you for it.

      Your Friend, ps

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Some great ideas, Bill. Good work! And that Mama Kim is one smart cookie.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks TT; I agree, Sasha is a good one.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS....I think I'll stick with PS.....thank you! I am a big believer in kids learning how to create their own fun and games....it helps with critical thinking and also teaches them to work within a community of kids. Playing video games for hours does none of that.

    • kathleenkat profile image

      kathleenkat 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      I think my generation was the last to have entertainment outside. Growing up in the 90s, I played in the woods, built forts out of sticks and leaves, and even built a huge fort out of cardboard boxes.

      Had I been born 10 years later, I probably grown up in front of the computer.

      Great tips, which I will keep in mind for when I have kids. I already use much of this on my self; I make things out of recycled material, and pack my lunch every day to save money.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathleen, you are already living the lifestyle; I have no doubt your future kids will benefit from it. Thank you!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Wonderful tips, Bill and Sasha! One way I saved money when I was pregnant and for most of my son's early years, is I bought and traded my maternity clothes and my son's at a nearby consignment shop. You can literally clothe your young children for next to nothing that way. They outgrow their clothing when they're infants so quickly - sometimes even skipping a size! It really is a waste of money to buy retail.

      We also made his halloween costumes. One year he wanted to be Fred Flintstone, so I bought some felt, cut out a rough pattern, added some velcro and Yabba Dabba Do! I don't sew, so if I can do it anyone can!

      Another year my son's dad made an oven out of a storage box, painted it gold, added foil to the window area and out son went trick or treating as an appliance. You can bet no one else had the same costume!

      Good tips. Not only can you save money, but have fun in the process!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I love the oven out of a box idea! And as a Halloween costume....that is priceless.

      Great suggestions my friend; we did the consignment shop thing to and it drastically cut the clothing expenditures down.

      Thank you; take care of you!

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      Great job and great examples. You'd be surprised though about how many parents there are that don't use coupons at all. When my kids were little, they used to help me cut out the coupons ( good for their fine motor skills too) and when we would go to the store I would try to always get a good deal on something they liked and let them take it off the shelf. They loved this, especially if they were able to choose their favorite flavor of something. There are a LOT of ways to save Billy...I think this could easily have a part two, but this was a great start.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great work, Billy. With this scheme, the average parents should be able to better make ends meet.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Karen! I love that you involved your kids in the coupons and shopping; what a great idea! Oh, there will be a part two...you can count on that. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Avian! It's always nice to see you visit!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      Great tips! The only one I didn't do was the cloth diapering. I just couldn't handle it. Otherwise, you are right on track with all that advice!

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Up, useful, and awesome Bill. It is very hard raising children, especially at this day and age. Excellent tips and suggestions Bill. People don't realize how much money they can spend in their household. Every penny adds up and a penny saved is a penny earned. Even a small garden can save some big bucks at the end of the year. My uncle grows one and he somehow does two harvest a year, different foods that is. Due to the drought, food is going up and it will be higher in the coming months. Coupons add up also. All great ideas Bill. In many cases, I believe the money isn't the main issue. I would say it is more of the "living simple" that people can't adjust too. I see children that look 8-9 with cell phones. Not saying it is wrong, just that the times are very different, even for me. I grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, not that long ago. A great article my friend and enjoying this series!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, I don't blame you. I did it but I sure didn't enjoy it. :) Darn near upchucked a couple times. Thank you my dear!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lyric....thank you as always....I guess I could say Ricky. ;) i agree, I think it's a case of people having a hard time changing lifestyles....everyone can save money at times, but to change your entire way of thinking is tough. As for kids with cell phones...I have a little problem with that one. :)

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 4 years ago from Central United States

      I have read two of your articles and seen your name around hub pages. This hub has some really good ideas which don't come close to the frugality I grew up with. Once again I have a houseful. Most of what you have in the blog are daily life for us.

      We don't use cloth diapers because there are no children currently in diapers. The one who we do take care of her mother furnishes them for her. She furnished the wipes too, on the rare occasions she forgets them we just use a washcloth.

      One thing which could help if you can do it is have a clothesline. This saves a bundle because driers use a lot of electricity. Everywhere I have lived there has been a ramp to get me into the house . We use the ramp rails as the clothesline.

      In life there are always choices. Throughout my life after I learned this, all my decisions were based on "What do I want and what am I willing to give up to get it." In most cases it was time so I spent most of my early life in business.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow! I did all of these. All, except clothes. For some reason my wife's family wanted to dress my kids.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's a woman thing, Martin; we aren't meant to understand! :) Thank you!

    • kthix10 profile image

      kthix10 4 years ago from IL

      Great advice, I agree completely on the school lunches. I always had hot lunch as a kid and never understood why because it was so expensive. I fully planned on making my kids lunches this year, but I allow one pizza day a month as a reward for something. I wasn't getting a lot of information about how to order before school started so I finally called and found out that the lunches are included at the early learning center where my kids are. FREE food, my kids are getting hot lunch everyday. My oldest is going to be sad next year when he is in 1st grade and goes back to cold lunch

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      Another great frugal addition! I love the idea of washable wipes by making your own! I must do this for my brother who has a 2 yr old and one on the way. It's a great money saving idea! I know he does make their own baby food, just like you suggested. The cloth nappies I don't know anyone that does use them and think it would be last resort for many, even though the savings are high.

      Making your own inexpensive games, crafts and learning tools is something I as "Aunty Sue" have brought to the party with all my nieces and nephews and love doing!. The most basic, and one still talked about today some 15 years later, is a huge cardboard box we had that I used to pop one of the crew in and pretend they were in a car. They would either sit in it or hold the edges whilst I pulled them round the rooms of the house! The kids all loved it!! The other thing I loved doing is giving them all old plastic or terracotta plant pots to paint and decorate whatever way they liked! The fun was priceless!! Thanks Bill for sharing this wonderful account that is very doable for all. Voted up ++++ and sharing on!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wheel, thank you! I understand about not coming close to real frugality, but I'm trying to get people interested in this concept; it's best to start slow with them and not put them into shock.

      Thanks for the great comment!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kthix, you can't beat free food! Not that is definitely frugal living. LOL Thank you for visiting; greatly appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzie, thanks for that....I had forgotten about the big shipping boxes....we used to do that too, and make forts out of them....great fun. The terra cotta pots are another great idea. Thanks for the additions and have a wonderful weekend.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      My Son and Grandchildren should read this, some great ideas shared. I remember when my Son was small, he would rather play with a cardboard box than any toy, now they think they must have every gadget out there.Ah the good old day's!!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, we played in boxes...and we made things...all great fun for no expense. Sigh.....have a great weekend and thank you!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Such great tips Billy...really enjoying your living simple series...thank you for doing such a great job...cheers

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carter, thank you again! I'm glad you are enjoying this series!

    • Trinity M profile image

      Trinity M 4 years ago

      Awesome hub Bill and so on the money (pardon the pun). Raising children is an expensive business if you let it control you. Luckily, as you already know, we are homeschooling our son and this helps us avoid having to buy him things according to peer and school trends. Toys are kept to a minimum and even when he gets any his interest lasts for a few days and then he’s back to his favourite toy of all – a stick! :) Great ideas and a few that I never even knew about. Sending hugs your way :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Trinity....a stick! LOL Yes indeed, the magical stick, with its ability to transform into a wondrous collection of toys....ten toys in one, and it doesn't cost a thing. Love it, and love receiving hugs from you! Thank you dear!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Finally catching up with some hub reading! These are great tips. Love the recycled craft one especially! It is amazing what we can do with stuff. One of the benefits of having a picky eater is that I pack her lunch everyday. It has saved us a lot of money over the years! voted up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I understand that; I was the picky eater growing up and always had a packed lunch. I'm glad you liked the tips and thank you!

    • dontaytte profile image

      dontaytte 4 years ago from Palos Hills

      great hub I found this hub interesting as hell. I need to start trying these tips

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well thank you dontaytte; much-appreciated!

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