Budget for Food/diapers/clothes per Month?

Updated on July 15, 2010
J.K. asks from Marblehead, MA
12 answers

My husband and I are trying to tighten our budget, but still be realistic in setting the new budget. I am wondering, if you are a family of four, how much do you spend on food, diapers, and baby/kid clothes per month? (We live in an expensive area so I know that also plays a part in how much everything costs.) Thank you so much - I know this is a personal question so I appreciate any answers!

A little more information: My older child is just in diapers at night and potty trained during the day and my younger goes through a big value pack about every month. I get the diapers online for a great price, and the majority of their clothes are bought from consignment stores or clearance. It is more the food budget I guess that I am interested in adjusting...

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answers from New York on

Hi there,

I live in Jersey, so I know what you mean about things costing a lot. As far as kids clothes, I always buy at the end of the season and gets things really cheap. Plus I use coupons. For example, shorts are now 2.50 and polo shirts and 4 dollars at Children's place. At old Navy, Long sleaved shirts are 2.50. I buy conservatively because you never know who will lend you or give you hand me downs or you can hit a garage sale. As far as diapers, my son wears a size 4 and goes through up to 140 diapers a month. That can be expensive but if you buy the biggest pack you can, on sale, with coupons, its not tht bad. I buy almost everything at the same grocery store and that includes personal care as well as cat food and whatever our 2 year old needs. I usually spend 100-120 dollars a week. We eat most of our meals at home and do not eat fancy. Lots of chicken legs. I do buy organic for my son so that is more expensive.



answers from Dallas on

I budget really tight, every penny is used, in our house. We budget only $350 for groceries and baby items. We don't budget monthly for clothes as there is no reason for that. I would suggest google searching Dave Ramsey, he is the best and will really help you out.



answers from Dallas on

not knowing how old your kids are(are they both in diapers?), if you are able to use any hand-me downs, etc. - i'll just give you MY numbers. i use a cash system, a certain amount of money goes into each envelope on each payday. monthly, i allow $600 for groceries(that includes personal items, diapers, cleaning products) and put away $90 per month for clothing. that is for a family of 5 - our 3 kids are 7, 4, and 1 - the 4yo still wears pull-ups at night. hope that helps.

edited to clarify: i don't SPEND $90 each month on clothing, that's just what goes in the envelope, and i buy what we each need when we need it, and i RARELY buy clothes/shoes that aren't on sale. i will be hitting gymboree tomorrow since it's time to redeem gymbucks, and i'll shop the sale/clearance rack.



answers from Chicago on

that would be freecycle.org. Also, start coupon clipping and swapping coupons with others who may not have a child as young as you. I never paid full price for diapers or jar food, I would stock up with them when they were on sale and when I had a coupon. I also had my family members sign up for formula checks an then swapped with other moms who didn't use the same formala I did (we all requested checks from all 3 companies and then swapped with eachother). Joining local mom groups may help you too (you can swap with them as well).

Good luck.


answers from Houston on

we dont have a budget exactly, but its about 100 per week for everything, food ~diapers~ supplies~clothes, everything included, besides on special occasions like xmas, back to school, birthdays etc...., theres 4 of us

i make most things from scratch (food wise), besides cheese, and pasta and bread(although, been there done that alot)

i always get generic, kroger walmart, target brand, if it looks and the ingredients are the same. (cant beat walmart diapers)

and barter, barter , barter, i cleaned out my entire garages storage of furniture, house appliances and what not i exchanged it for work on my yard and structure of my house



answers from Fort Wayne on

We spend about $500 on groceries a month, but that includes things like baby wipes, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, dog food and cat food. I don't know how much is actual food.
We use cloth diapers so my monthly diaper cost is about $15.00 a month. I use a special detergent and I buy a diaper every other month or so. I don't NEED to buy a diaper that often, but I can't help it. They're so darn CUTE! :D
We don't buy kids clothes monthly. I buy a lot of things at garage sales and I try to buy things at the end of the season. I also buy a lot of $3.00 shirts and shorts for play.
If you want to cut down on your spending, track what you spend every single day for a month. You'll see that there's a lot of things you can cut out.



answers from Jacksonville on

Here are some tips I've found myself or from friends:

Angel Food Ministries

This organization gathers groceries and puts together boxes for purchase. There are no income requirements and it is for anyone who needs to cut costs and still provide good food for their families. It's a great idea and a great way to save money on items you'd pay more for at the store. There are locations everywhere.

Yard Sales or Thrift stores

Many children items can be bought for little and look almost new since children grow out of them so quickly. I know that some Thrift stores in my area offer dollar days where you can fill a paper grocery bag for a dollar. GREAT DEAL and SAVINGS!!! :)


The best brand I have found are the Walmart Brand Parent's Choice (I think that's what they are called). They are better than the more expensive name brands and cost much less. You might also find them at Sams Club and buy in bulk for an even bigger discount. Best wipes are Target Brand, but I also use my grocer's brand and Walmart Brand as well. Don't buy name brand when the off brands are just as good if not better.


Find them, cut them, use them....BUT don't get caught up in using coupons on items you really don't need. I look at the coupons and cut what I know I'll use because I use it all the time or I know I'll need it. I use the coupons only if the generic brand is more expensive than the name brand with the coupon, otherwise I go with the generic brand. Also look for sales at your grocery store and try to match them with coupons. BOGO sales can be great deals when you also have some coupons too! :)

I know I didn't give you an amount, but that is different for everyone, so that's hard to make a judgement. I hope that these tips have helped. Good luck! This economy is scary and we should be joining together to help each other live smarter. :)



answers from Miami on

My husband and I are from NOVA (he went to Herndon High) so we know the costs up there. You don't say the ages of your children - but I would suggest that you get on freecycle if you aren't already. Also, try consignment shops / second hand shops for clothes for both kids and adults. This can really cut costs. I also have used craigslist to pick up clothes for the next season cheaply.

Food: coupons, not eatting out, and keeping track of sales - freeze things!

Diapers: always use a coupon, look for them on freecycle or in Mom's clubs coupon swaps.

Would be happy to try to provide more details if you give more info on ages. Good luck! C.



answers from Detroit on

I spend $600 per month on food for a family of 4.. I have 2 kids in diapers only at night- so I spend $9 on diapers every 12 days.

Clothes.. that would be hard to figure.. I spend more spring and fall..I do shop resale/thrift strores.. and I buy ahead - if I see somehting in good shaper for a great price I buy it..



answers from Los Angeles on

Just an idea for clothing. You mentioned living in an expensive area. Do they have garage sales? My friend drives to upscale neighborhoods for their garage sales. She gets wonderful clothes and appliances for garage sale prices. My two children receive soooo many hand me downs (and we give ours away too) which are supplented by two doting grandmas and loving friends that I almost never buy clothing. They are two and one week old, so I am sure that will change eventually, but the one week old is set through nine months, and has several things through eighteen months. Plus the sources of all these hand me downs will keep growing, and the clothes will keep coming. I like to buy my friends' children a new outfit in addition to a toy at birthday and Christmas just to show our appreciation. Maybe you could start a hand me down train with friends and family.


answers from Washington DC on


I too live in Reston - I don't see the cost of diapers to be different here than anywhere else. It all depends upon where you shop and if you use coupons.

When my boys were in diapers we used credit cards. I have a family of four. My boys are 10 and 8. We spend about $400 a month on groceries. I use coupons like there is NO TOMORROW.

My husband takes the metro into DC every day. We cut the insurance on his car because he now drives less than 3000 miles per year.

We bundle our packages - cable, internet phone - to save money as well.

Hope this helps!!


answers from Chicago on

Groceries for us are about $400/month. Diapers are actually included in that cost, and that cost varies depending on the age of your child. DS is 2 and goes through an 84pk of size 4 diapers every 2 weeks, roughly. That, alone, would be about $60/month.

Clothes I don't factor in. I tend to buy for a size range/season and that's it, or pick things up on clearance here and there.

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