Saving money on your children can be quite easy. It doesn’t take a lot of work or scouring garage sales on your weekends.
All it takes is a little wise shopping and some recycling.
Let’s start with the shopping. When it comes to clothes, remember that bigger is always better. A little room to grow will make an outfit last longer. Think about whether or not you will really dress your child in the outfit. Yes, cute dresses and little suits are precious, but if the child won’t wear it but once, it’s probably not the most frugal decision. Think about what the child really wears. For instance, little girls are cute in dresses and stockings, but when they are at the crawling stage, they can’t get around very well. Plus, stockings get dirty easily.
Many parents like to try shopping at resale or consignment stores. These stores are great if you actually spend less. Too many people simply spend the same amount, but bring more home. Some people spend more without realizing it. A child can have too many clothes. If there are clothes that don’t get worn, they were a waste of money. I acknowledge that it takes a little trial and error to find out what are good purchases, but eventually it comes.
Buying out of season clothes off the sales racks is a little risky. You need to be sure that your child will be that size come the next winter. You can’t always think that a one-year old will wear a 1T or 12 month outfit. My one-year old wears anything from 3 to 9 months, depending on the brand. My friend’s ten month old is wearing 12 to 18 months. We all come in different sizes, even as children.
The good news is that stores are often putting the season’s clothes on sale long before the season is over. Winter coats can often be found on sale in December or January. This is great for kids that hit a growth spurt mid-way through winter. You can think long term about outfits too. A little outfit with a short sleeve shirt and jeans only needs a sweat-shirt or a jacket to become a fall or winter outfit. Keep in mind that most of your clothes are worn year round.
Personally, I shop for my child once every season. I get everything I know she will need at that time. Then I don’t go back into the clothing section for anything, unless I am there for a specific item. Otherwise, I’m buying socks each time just because they are cute or picking two or three outfits off of the sales rack that I don’t need.
When it comes to toys, be practical. My daughter’s favorite toy in the world is a plastic pop bottle. She can be occupied for a long time with a bucket full of odd things. I know that there are many things around the house that she has yet to explore. Think of things you can introduce to your kids as fun and educational that you already own.
When you are shopping, think about how fast your children are growing. If you have a 6 month old and a toy is recommended for a 6 month old, you might consider looking for another toy that will interest the child in a couple of months. Stretch things out as far as possible. There are great toy combinations out there that last a child forever. For example, you can buy a play board that turns into a walk-behind toy that then turns into a scooter. It covers six months to two years in stages. And saves you from buying three separate toys.
And remember, a lot of toys aren’t necessary. Your child would much rather play with you and a piece of yarn or go for a slow walk than play alone with a toy. Often the most frugal items, like a bed-time book, are those that take a little time on your part. To many frugal people, it is better to spend time than money.
You will find that there are hundreds of ways to save money with your children. From recycling paper grocery sacks into drawing paper to cutting up magazines for picture books, the possibilities are endless. It’s all about being a little creative and keeping it fun.