Frugal Living and Kids
Copyright 2000/2001 Deborah Taylor-Hough
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Frugal living and raising kids. Is it possible for those two phrases to fit together? Here’s a quick list of simple ideas for saving money on regular child-related expenses and/or fun activities.
SAVING MONEY ON CHILDREN
1) Give older children and teenagers their own reasonable clothing budget. They quickly learn that the money only goes so far. If they want designer jeans, fine, but they’ll have to cut back somewhere else or earn the extra money themselves.
2) Check for children’s clothing, especially infant sizes, at yard sales in expensive neighborhoods. Name brand items in excellent condition can often be found for less than a dollar a piece.
3) Always say “yes” to hand-me-down clothes from friends and family. If you really need help financially, a refusal of clothing could indicate to someone that you no longer have need for clothing so they might stop offering all together. Give what you don’t need to someone else who could use a hand. Hand-me-downs are not only free but are usually in better condition than garage sales or thrift stores.
4) Sell children’s clothes you’re finished with at a children’s resale/consignment store. You’ll get a better rate of return than at a yard sale.
5) Get free video rentals at local libraries.
6) Be patient and wait to see new movies when they come out in video.
7) Check to see if there are any discount movie theaters in your area. Many of these places show movies just before they’re released on video. A family of four can go out for an evening at the movies and spend around $10 for a fun family outting (watch the candy, popcorn and drink purchases however — that’s where the bill can go sky-high). These theaters often play the movies for only a week or two, so keep track of which movies you want to see and check each week for what’s playing at the discount theaters.
8) Go to the first show of the day at first-run theaters for the best price of the day.
9) Rather than buying separate admissions to different educational or fun family destinations, buy one yearly pass to either the zoo or the aquarium or a theme park. Go repeatedly to that one place each time you want a family outing. You’ll easily save the cost of the family admission, plus you’ll have the benefit of not feeling pressured to see everything in one day. You can always see what you missed the next time you come. Next year buy a pass to somewhere else.
10) Check for free concerts, plays and other live family entertainment at local parks during the summer months.
11) Call and find out if your local college stage production group, ballet or orchestra will let you quietly watch them rehearse for free.
12) Go fly a kite (literally!).
13) Learn to juggle. It’s entertaining, creates family cooperation and it’s great exercise.
14) Make the most of available student discounts. Show your child’s school ID at museums, zoos, galleries, etc.
15) Instead of an expensive day of professional sports, go to a high school or college game.
16) Borrow high-ticket baby items from family and friends: car seats, baby swings, playpens, strollers, bassinets, cribs, high chairs. Remember to take excellent care of borrowed items … and don’t forget to return them!
17) Purchase high-ticket items at children’s resale or consignment stores. Look in the Yellow Pages. These stores sort through the junk so the merchandise they sell is often in “like-new” condition.
18) Buy retired diapers from local diaper services. These are still serviceable and sold for a fraction of the cost of new cotton diapers. Even if you have to replace them now and then, the monetary savings are still tremendous.
19) Put your baby’s tiny socks into a zippered lingerie bag when you put them in the washing machine. They won’t get lost, so this cuts down on unmatched socks and the subsequent replacement costs.
20) Consider using a Certified Nurse Midwife for routine pregnancy and childbirth care. The cost of a hospital birth using a CNM can be nearly a third less than the same birth attended by an OB/GYN. Check to see if there is a CNM associated with your local hospital or birthing center. Most medical insurance companies offer coverage for CNM pregnancy/childbirth care (check with your insurance carrier for specifics).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Deborah Taylor-Hough (free-lance writer, wife and mother of three) is the editor of the Simple Times and Bright-Kids email newsletters. She’s also the author of the bestselling book, Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month, and A Simple Choice : A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity.