Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Money Saving Tips

By Heather Pohlabel

Let's be honest; children are expensive. Very expensive. They never really get any cheaper as they grow, so the time to start being sensible about money is as soon as they are born! There are many different areas where you can control expenditures when it comes to that extra member of your family!

Be Practical:
First of all, you don't NEED everything at once, and you don't really need EVERYTHING! This is a hard concept for new parents, and even some seasoned veterans, as baby stuff is very "cute", but don't fall prey to over purchasing. Advertising agents and department stores will target you with tiny little over priced outfits, elaborate bedding outfits, and unrealistically priced accessories. Buyer, beware! You will not be able to resell these items for anything close to what you paid for them.

In all practical terms, babies need somewhere to sleep, something to wear, and something to eat. Of course all of these needs come with many accessories and a price tag, so keeping the necessary supplies minimal and replacing them when you need them will not only help you control your baby budget, it will keep you from gathering too much extra!

Some other practical advice when shopping for a baby need is never pay full price; the item will inevitably go on sale in the next week or two, and scour the clearance racks; it's amazing what you can find there! Also, utilizing coupons helps, especially if the item is already on sale. However, comparison shop products; name brands aren't always the best and the coupon value may not reduce it enough to equal on off brand or store brand on a comparable item.

Buying Used:
We all know that this is the best way to go with babies. Buying everything used from clothing to furniture saves an enormous amount of money for the family. Babies outgrow things - even furniture - within weeks sometimes, and buying brand new items, while nice in concept, is just not very practical.

You can purchase used items online, at resale shops, or at garage sales. If you have friends with babies, you can each keep your eyes out for items that the others need. Even friends without babies like to window shop, and they can lead you to that next great bargain, or they may even purchase it for you if they know that you buy used. The Salvation Army also has very inexpensive baby items, but much like a garage sale, you will spend more time searching for cuter and better quality items in a store such as this.

Discount Shopping :
If you are looking for brand name bargains on new items, shop stores such as Valu City or Burlington Coat Factory. While some of these items are irregular, they are usually very wearable and very affordable. Check the clothing very closely before purchasing it, as you may not be able to return it. There are more strict return policies at discount stores, but you can really find incredible trendy and modern merchandise at bargain prices at these stores.

Hand-Me-Downs:
While "hand-me-downs" get less popular as children get older, don't refuse free things from anyone. Take what you can use, and use them! Be sure to ask the giver if she would like the items back when your baby is done using them.

Household Tips:
Making use of household tips from the Internet or from friends will help you to save money as well. For example, there are stain removal tips of all kinds all over the Internet. You can even make your own baby wipes and dryer sheets with a little creativity. Making your own baby food is another popular household money saving tip.

If you have a craft such as sewing, you can mend items instead of replacing them and even make your own baby clothes if you find reasonably priced material.

As always, using common sense such as washing clothes with a full load and with cold water will save a little bit of money here and there on detergent and hot water costs.

Barter:

This may seem like an ancient practice, but if you have a service or product to offer, you could very well exchange that for the service or product from another mother. If you know a hairstylist, perhaps she would cut your hair or your family's hair in exchange for baked goods or babysitting. If your child has outgrown something, you could exchange that with another parent who needs it for something that they have that you need. There are also websites where you can advertise your need for exchange or products and services such as craigslist.com.

Use your head when it comes to purchasing baby items, not your entire paycheck. While brand new items are initially appealing, they are seldom worth what you pay for them!

No comments: