Saturday, March 10, 2012

Frugal advice for a new mom to be

My sister in law is expecting her first baby and is thinking that these baby years are very expensive. They don’t have t be.  Wait until they are older and want all the electronics in the world and the designer clothing labels. I wanted to share the advice I gave her as a frugal  mom over the past 14 years. 
Saving money on your  young  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. You maybe able to get one as a hand me down. Don’t be afraid to let your friends know  you don’t mind   taking these. 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. This is where you can get really good deals on clothes.  When my sons were smaller I would take their good outfits that and sell them at a semi annual consignment sale and use that money to buy stuff at the same sale. Usually I hardly paid anything out of pocket. 
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. One of my younger son’s  favorite toy in the world is a plastic pop bottle. He would  be occupied for a long time with a bucket full of odd things. I know that there are many things around the house that he 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.
The young child isn't going to remember how much money you spent on them... memories happen!


Kathryn said...

I agree with you 100% in that young kids care more about having quality time with parents that a lot of toys. I'll never forget my niece's first Christmas when she was about 8 months old that loved playing with the boxes that the toys came in and the bows that were on them more than she did the toys themselves.

If you don't have anyone to get hand-me-downs from (I didn't), she could also join her local Freecycle network ( where people post things they no longer use to giveaway or you can request items needed and someone may have that item. I would post items no longer needed, respond to those where I had an item they requested (such as dresses for church, craft items for a church, and boy scout shirt) and thankfully and on more than one occasion a user came through with such things as a coat for my son, football cleats or birthday party decorations.

One thing I would not buy second hand, unless you know for sure it is fairly new, not an any recall lists and meet safety standards is a crib. I bought one used and it was fine at first, but as he got around 8 months and would pull himself up up and shake the guard rail when he woke up, it easily weakened and it started to come down on one side. Also, some older cribs the slats are farther apart than what is now considered safe.

Admin said...

Thanks for stopping on by! great points. freecycle is great I have mostly used them to get rid of the clutter than to necessarily find things. Cribs and car seats are always things to buy new or get from a very close friend or relative.