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How does $369,360 per child sound? To find out where that money goes, Real Simple we took a financial snapshot to offer a candid look at some of the best strategies for saving. 

The Lyon Family

Photo: Samantha Contis

Monthly kid-related expenses: food, $1,050… gas, $500… travel (for sports), $225…  medical, $200… clothing, $140… sports, $125… entertainment and toys, $85… school fees, $28.

Who we are: Kate, 33; Greg, 36; Luke, 9; and John Patrick, 7.

Where we live: Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

What we do: Greg is an account executive at a paper and supplies company; Kate is a stay-at-home mom who’s working on starting her own business.

Biggest recent change in our finances: Kate was laid off from her COO position in sports marketing last year. “So we’re living on one income. We switched our boys from private to public school, which saves on tuition, and we no longer have to pay for after-school care.”

We never thought we’d spend so much on… “Sports and food. The boys play baseball, football, soccer—you name it. And the gear is expensive. And of course, they’re always hungry. It is amazing how much two growing boys eat in a week.”

For example, we just bought… A 40-pack of Capri Sun for $6.83 and four gallons of milk for $12.32. “Those will last a week, maybe. Sometimes we have to run out for more milk.”

Small ways we save

–Kate hits Sam’s Club every Monday morning. “We sometimes clip coupons. But the bulk stores aren’t always cheapest. The local grocery often has better deals on soda.”

–The boys constantly need new shoes. “They wear them out. We’ve found the pricier name brands—we like New Balance—last longer, so we save in the long run.”

More Ways They Can Save

Trade in clothes. The KidVantage Club program at Sears, which includes clothes from Lands’ End, allows you to exchange items that wear out before they’re outgrown, so the Lyons could get spanking-new pants as needed. Sign up at any Sears register. (For details, go to

Get Twitter coupons. puts deals and discounts from Twitter in one place. For example, Kate could search “baseball” and find tweets about websites and stores having sporting-goods sales.

Fuel up midweek. Kate spends a couple of hours daily driving between school and practices. “She should fill up on gas on Wednesdays or Thursdays. There’s less traffic, so stations lower prices to attract business,” says financial expert Farnoosh Torabi, author of Psych Yourself Rich (FT Press, $21, Other gas-saving tips: Turn the engine off instead of idling, and clean out the trunk. Extra weight burns fuel.