Making Room in Your Budget for Some Frugal Summer Fun

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Making Room in Your Budget for Some Frugal Summer Fun 

Keeping yourself and your family amused throughout the summer when you’re on a tight budget can be increasingly difficult, but certainly not impossible. Here are some tips on how to budget frugally and leave a little money in the cookie jar for fun and frolicing:

• Don’t waste your money buying expensive books from a book store, instead visit your local library. All you have to do is join, which is usually a simple procedure. Once you’re a full-fledged member all you have to do is pick out some books you fancy reading and it won’t cost you a penny. Also, don’t forget that most libraries aren’t limited to books these days, but are also wonderful places to find DVDs and CDs.

• Thrift Stores are a frugal mom’s paradise and are an excellent haven for cheap second-hand DVDs, CDs and games. The most exciting thing is that you never know what you might find, and you are bound to find some nice bargains!

• Check out your local cinema. These days the majority of cinemas have different prices for different times of the day, and many even have one day of the week that is a bargain day. And, if you happen to have a cell phone on Orange’s network, you’re already eligible for their “Orange Wednesdays” offer that entitles you and a friend to go see anything you want on any Wednesday and only one of you will have to pay (or you could also be nice and split the cost!)

• During the summer, many local newspapers include offers for local theme parks, museums and attractions, so be sure to check them all and see what’s available. The offers are generally two for the price of one, or a free child’s admission with a full paying adult.

• Check the “bargain bin” in local stores. These are usually great places to find DVDs and CDs at incredibly discounted prices. They might not be “Disney quality,” but if it keeps the kids quiet for a couple of hours, everyone is happy.

• Take the family to the local park for a picnic. Everyone loves a picnic! Just make sure you include everyone’s favourite healthy snacks, a cheap Frisbee that you can pick up from your local dollar store if needed, and you’ve got cheap entertainment that will last for hours.

• Brush the dust off the bikes and take the kids out into nature for a family bike ride. Make sure you pack the kids’ backpacks with note books and pens so that they can write about, draw pictures of and collect anything they find. Make up games where they have to find certain objects, for example anything green or anything square. Or maybe you can all see how many different types of flowers or leaves you find.

• Check out your local arts and crafts shop. Give each of the children a little money to spend, or let them bring their own, and have the gather everything they’ll need to complete their own craft project. This could be anything from painting to making cards or even their own jewelry. Many craft shops have bargain bins that selling a variety of odds and ends. These are definitely worth a look.

• Check to see if your local arts and craft shop runs free classes that teach children how to make things. These classes are always fun and teach kids many valuable lessons and skills. Most classes also include allowing the child to take something they’ve made home with them, completely free so charge, so they’re always worth looking for.

Frugal Parenting Tips for Sending the Kids Back to School

July 9, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Frugal Parenting Tips for Sending the Kids Back to School 

School will be starting up again before you know it. And with that comes a lot of added expense for budget-burdened families. But there are ways frugal moms can save on the cost of getting the kids ready to go back to school. Here are some ideas to help you begin.

Plan what you’ll need.

Look at every piece of clothing in your child’s closet to determine what still fits and is wearable. Eliminate what she can’t wear and make a list of what’s needed. Don’t forget shoes, socks, underwear, etc. when you’re planning and write down sizes to make it easier to shop when you’re alone.

Evaluate how much “new” is really needed.

While kids would try to coerce an entire “new” wardrobe out of Mom and Dad each year, many parents are coming to realize that just isn’t necessary. As long as the clothes your children wore to school last year still fit and are in wearable condition, it’s not a law that they have to have a completely new wardrobe. A few new pieces are a nice treat, but most parents wear their clothes for more than one year and no one says kids should be different.

Get an early start.

By watching your local sales papers, shopping garage sales and thrift or consignment shops and knowing what you need in advance, you can save considerably in outfitting your children for school. This will also give you time to get everything washed and ready to wear, and make any minor repairs you may need. Shopping for back to school things will cost, but you can minimize the damage to your family’s budget with preparation and planning, and a decent amount of leg work.

Ask the school for a supply list, if possible.

Many teachers or school secretaries can provide this early, if not, use one from the previous year to at least get started on the basics such as pens, pencils, rulers, etc. Some things you’ll be able to use from the previous year, but you’ll typically have to purchase some supplies. Often you can find excellent sales on school supplies by shopping early, so knowing what each child will need will be a tremendous help.

Swap with other frugal moms.

Read Save Money by Hosting a Swap and learn how to set up a kid’s clothing swap with friends and neighbors who have school age children. For the best results find families with kids both younger and older, or smaller and larger, as the case may be. That way you’ll all be able to share the clothing you have on hand while finding things to fit your own kids in return.

Check your local dollar stores.

Everything is a dollar stores always have great deals on school supplies and are usually the first place to look for such items. But know your prices! Sometimes you can find the same items in larger packages or better quality brands on sale somewhere else. Just stay alert to what the going prices are by watching sales papers and weekly ads.

Shop garage sales, consignment stores and thrift shops.

Good used kids clothes are a common commodity. The trick is to know what sizes you need before you go since you obviously won’ be able to t return what doesn’t fit. Be sure to check each item thoroughly for stains or damage before purchasing. And if you have a picky child, it’s best to take her along, especially if you’re concerned about something she may not wear.

Minimize colors.

Just as in shopping for your own clothes, you can save money by staying within a few basic colors, you can do the same for your children. Choose a few coordinating colors based on what they like best and search for a variety of pieces that can be mixed and matched. This will stretch your wardrobe budget and still provide your child with everything he needs to wear.

There are ways to send your kids to school without breaking the bank. Use your creativity and look for viable options that fit your family’s budget.

30 Ways to Keep the Kids Busy This Summer

July 3, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Parenting · 1 Comment 

The official start of summer has come and gone, and the days are passing steadily. It seems to be about this time every year that the kids are over the “I can’t wait for summer vacation!” excitement and have moved quickly into the “Mom, I’m bored!” blues. Here are some ideas to help you entertain the kids, or help the kids entertain themselves, at little or no cost.

1. Let them host their own yard sale of unused toys, books and clothing. They can use the money to buy a new game.

2. Help them set up a lemonade stand and sell to the neighbors.

3. Offer them a reading challenge… X amount of dollars (or cents) for every book they read this summer.

4. Get out the sprinkler and let the kids have some good old fashioned – wet! – fun.

5. Make homemade ice cream.

6. Get crafty. They can draw, paint, craft with homemade clay or scrapbook. There are hundreds of patterns and ideas online and many things can be made from items you’d normally throw in the trash.

7. Start a garden. Give each child their own plant to monitor and let them see how exciting it is to watch a living thing grow.

8. Encourage them to volunteer. They can help an elderly neighbor with yard work or errands, babysit a harried mother’s younger child, or offer to walk a shut-ins dog. They’ll not only feel good, they’ll begin to learn a lifelong lesson of generosity.

9. Teach them to cook. They’ll need to know someday and cooking offers a great relief from boredom.

10. If it’s raining outside, create some indoor fun by building a fort (a blanket draped over a card table or a couple of chairs), playing hide and seek, or holding a Monopoly marathon.

11. Find some added chores they can do such as cleaning out the garage, organizing their closet, washing the car, etc.

12. Hold a backyard Bible club with games, prizes, Bible stories, etc.

13. Organize a kid’s block party. Invite all the kids in the neighborhood (and some parents) to bring a treat and a game to share. Play music and have some fun.

14. Create your own carnival games. A board with holes can become a bean bag toss. A board with balloons can become a dart board. Floating toys in a small tub with numbers on the bottom can become a duck race. Use your imagination and creativity.

15. Spend some time outdoors. There are dozens of activities to choose from in your own backyard such as skateboarding, bike riding, rollerblading, playing Frisbee, softball, etc.

16. Go for a hike or a family bike ride.

17. Play hopscotch (if you remember how) or jump rope.

18. Print several coloring sheets of the computer and make your own coloring book.

19. Hold a neighborhood talent contest and let the kids perform for their parents.

20. Put on a play or skit complete with costumes and music.

21. Find a bunch of old clothes, vintage things work really well, and create a “dress-up” box. Gloves, hats, shoes, pants, dresses, vests, ties, etc. can create a full summer of creative play.

22. Rediscover the craft of paper mache to make a simple piñata. Mix equal amounts of white glue or flour with water and coat strips of newspaper. Cover a blown-up balloon with the strips, leaving a small section uncovered until the paper dries. When it’s dry, pop the balloon and remove the balloon. Fill the piñata with small pieces of candy, and cover the hole with paper mache. Decorate with bright paints when dry.

23. Encourage your kids to become fans of a neighborhood softball team. They can go to all their games, get to know the players and cheer for their home team to win.

24. Play white elephant bingo. Pick up an inexpensive Bingo game from the dollar store, or have the kids make one. Use yard sale items or gag gifts for prizes. Invite other kids from the neighborhood or whole families to play.

25. Visit a different “kids eat free” restaurant for lunch each week.

26. Find a free concert in the park or at a local church featuring a group the kids would enjoy.

27. Encourage the kids to write their own stories and poems, and publish a book. They can make copies and bind them for gifts to grandparents, friends and other family members.

28. Create a neighborhood activity swap with other parents. Each week one parent is responsible for planning an activity or outing for all the kids in the group, keeping in mind cost, age level and abilities.

29. Host a weekly movie day and let all the kids gather at your house to watch videos and eat popcorn.

30. Go fishing. Even if you think you can’t bait a hook, you can take the kids to a lake and spend some time dropping in a line – with a fake worm on the end! It’s not about what you catch – though kids love to catch fish – it’s about being together and enjoying the warm air and nature.

Some of these activities are age dependent or need supervision. Others are things the kids can do on their own. But the idea is to find a variety of activities to keep the kids busy and active during the long weeks of summer, if nothing more than in an effort to maintain your own sanity until school starts again!

Teaching Your Children to Save

June 24, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Teaching Your Children to Save 

As parents, we want our children to grow into successful, well-adjusted adults who understand the value of money and who know how to manage it. But money management isn’t a skill learned by osmosis. We can’t just hope they’ll soak up what they need to earn and save money, prepare a budget, manage a checkbook, pay their bills and stay out of debt. We have to teach them. And beginning to educate our kids in money management will be most effective if we begin early, even as young as four or five.

Regardless of the age of your children, look for ways to continually help them learn the value of money and the skills they need to manage it properly.

• The Bible says that he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat, and while you can’t neglect feeding your children, you can teach them that money is earned not simply given. Use an allowance system in exchange for weekly chores and household help. Assign age-level tasks that your child can easily accomplish and pay them an allowance based on their completion of those tasks. If they don’t do their chores, they don’t receive an allowance.

• Closely related to teaching your child that money is earned is the concept that money must be budgeted. If you spend everything you receive in one day, you won’t have anything for later in the week. A child will learn this important lesson if, when they spend their entire allowance in one day, Mom and Dad don’t give them more money until their next allowance.

While this may be especially hard for some parents, this is a very important lesson for children to learn. It develops lifelong budgeting habits that will serve your child well when she is on her own and supporting herself. If you truly want your children to learn that money is earned, force yourself to not give in to their pleas for more spending money. It won’t take long for your child to begin to make wiser spending choices in order to have money left at the end of the week.

• Understand reaping and sowing. The principle that you “reap what you sow” applies to all areas of life. Teaching a child to give – either to their church, or to a favorite charity – will help them develop a generous spirit that will last a lifetime.

• Teach them to “pay” themselves. Saving money is how we pay ourselves by providing for short and long-term goals and ensuring a safety net of ready-cash in the event of an emergency. While your child may not have an emergency, the sooner they learn this concept, they better they’ll be since it’s much harder to develop a habit of saving when we don’t practice it in our youth.

• Help them start a savings account. As soon as your child has the minimal amount required to open a savings account, take them to the bank to set up their account. This account can be used for long-term savings goals such as college, and will help them develop a lasting savings discipline.

• Help them to understand the banking process, rather than simply doing it for them. Talk to them about how to fill out the deposit forms – even if you have to fill out the form. Explain the idea of earning interest and how it will make their savings increase.

Of course, this education will have to progress as the child grows, but even the youngest child can understand that they have to “tell the bank whose money this is” on the savings form, or that they “get paid for keeping their savings in that bank.” Again, this will be excellent practice for later in life when they must manage their own finances.

• Look for the best interest rate. You probably won’t want to settle for the first savings account you find, or the one offered by your bank simply because of convenience. It’s important that money invested in savings earn the best rate it can so it can grow the fastest. This will encourage your child to save even more as they see their savings increase.

• Be sure to allow money to spend. While you want your child to understand the value of money and you want him to save, he also needs to understand the joy of having money to spend. Be sure to allow a portion to spend however he chooses.

• Encourage short and long term savings goals. College may be a long-term goal, as can a car, a senior trip or some other large item. Short term goals can include a new bike, skateboard, shoes or anything else your child can save for within a few weeks.

THere are others ways to teach our children about money, but the important thing is that you start right away. Doing so will ensure you’re raising children who will become budget-conscious adults with the abilities needed to provide for themselves and their families.

40 Free and Low-Cost Ideas for Family Fun

June 11, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on 40 Free and Low-Cost Ideas for Family Fun 

Sometimes saving money can be a real chore. You may begin to feel deprived that you can’t go out to eat or go to expensive movies. Especially on the weekends when the budget doesn’t allow money for entertainment.

But that doesn’t mean you have to sit around and watch television all day! There are many wonderful ways to have fun and entertain the kids without spending a lot. In fact, many of these activities are free! So, get off the couch and find something to do. You’ll feel better for it and you’ll be creating lasting memories with your family.

1. Go for a long walk, or a hike in the woods.

2. Take a family bike ride.

3. Borrow a movie or two from the library, make some popcorn, and have a movie night at home.

4. Pack some peanut butter sandwiches and cookies, and go on a picnic in the park.

5. Forget the picnic and go play at the park! Swing, go down the slide, climb the monkey bars and get dizzy on the merry-go-round.

6. Visit a local museum, historic home or other attraction.

7. Go window shopping (no buying allowed!).

8. Get out the coloring books and crayons and create refrigerator art.

9. Make an inexpensive craft project from recycled materials (there are thousands online!).

10. Create a photo collage on a piece of cardstock or poster board and hang on a bedroom wall.

11. Invite some friends over and have them each bring a dish for a potluck dinner and fellowship.

12. Play board games, Rummy or Yahtzee.

13. Work a crossword puzzle or word search.

14. Create your own word search puzzles. (You might even be able to sell them later!)

15. Make your own play dough with two parts flour to one part water, and a few drops of food coloring. Use it to create ornaments, trinket dishes, animals, and more.

16. Bake some cookies or a pan of brownies. Share a few with a neighbor.

17. Volunteer at a local food bank, women’s shelter, after school care program or hospital.

18. Take a free online class.

19. Work a jigsaw puzzle.

20. Read a book aloud to your kids.

21. Start a garden.

22. Tour a local plant or factory.

23. Go to a free church or outdoor concert.

24. Watch your local paper for free classes, activities and events you can attend.

25. Go swimming at a nearby lake.

26. Hold a Saturday kid’s day in your backyard with homemade games, crafts, and simple refreshments.

27. Go camping.

28. Go fishing.

29. Visit your local animal shelter and pet the puppies.

30. Visit a shut-in or elderly neighbor.

31. Join a club and get involved.

32. Watch a Little League game – even if you don’t have a child playing.

33. Write a long letter to a distant friend or relative.

34. Make handcrafted greeting cards and send one to several people you’ve not contacted in awhile.

35. Make your own string and jug band and entertain your friends.

36. Start a monthly game club with friends and family. Alternate whose house hosts each month and have everyone bring a snack to share. You can play the same game each month or a different one chosen by the host.

37. Play White Elephant Bingo with friends and family. Pick up an inexpensive Bingo game or make your own, and have everyone bring yard sale items for prizes.

38. Browse an antique shop and have fun talking about all those gadgets no one remembers any more.

39. Throw a Frisbee around, hit a softball, or toss a football with the kids.

40. Get involved in church activities. Large churches, especially, have something going on all the time. Join the softball team, attend a women’s seminar, meet new people and have a lot of fun!

Clothing Your Kids on a Budget

June 9, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Clothing Your Kids on a Budget 

Clothing kids who grow faster than dandelions on a rain-soaked, sun-drenched lawn can be a challenge. It’s especially trying when paychecks are already stretched to the max. But there are ways you can dress your kids well without breaking the bank.

• Check yard sales, thrift stores and eBay for kids clothes – in that order. If you can find what you need at a yard sale, you’ll typically get the best price – sometimes as low as 25¢ a piece! Thrift stores rank second with the lowest overall price, especially if you watch for sales and discount days. If you still can’t find what you need, visit eBay or other online shops. You’ll have to pay shipping, of course, and it’s harder to judge sizes when you can’t see the items themselves. But you can still find some really good deals that make shopping online worthwhile.

• Shop end of season clearance sales. It helps to choose classic styles and colors in a slightly larger size so they’ll be wearable the following year. You can often find some really good deals by shopping early (or late, as the case may be).

• Keep a list of clothing sizes with you at all times. This will enable you to shop sales for items you know you’ll be needing soon such as underwear and socks, or to fill in gaps where needed with a certain color top or pair of pants.

• Start your own hand-me-down storage. If you have more than one child, save the clothes they outgrow for the next child in line. It’s nice to add a few “new” (to them) items each season so the younger child doesn’t feel second-class. But this can be one of your biggest saving strategies when it comes to outfitting child number two.

• Organize a clothing swap with other moms. Have everyone bring the clothes their kids can no longer wear and take home what they will use. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you like, but the idea is for everyone to walk away with clothing their kids can wear right away.

• Look for other moms and friends you can swap with one-one-one. One mom was able to pass her five-year-old son’s clothes on to a friend with a four-year-old son, while her friend shared clothes from her twelve-year-old daughter that fit the first mom’s eleven-year-old perfectly. You never know when you might find a “match” that will last until the kids are grown!

• Skip the name brands. While you want quality clothes for your kids, name brands aren’t a necessity, especially for very young children. Save the higher-priced name brand clothing for when kids are old enough to help with their clothing costs, or for when clothes are more likely to last through multiple wearing seasons without becoming outgrown. If you really must have name brand or luxury clothes, look at second-hand stores and boutiques. No one but you, the clerk and your wallet will know they aren’t absolutely brand new.

• Choose mostly classic styles and colors then fill in with a few trendier items. Opt for basic jeans or khakis, standard shorts, simple skirts, and polos or tees whenever possible. These basic designs will never go out of style and can be updated with belts, jackets, shoes, etc. as seasons change.

• Teach your kids to treat their clothes gingerly and they’ll last longer. Have them change out of school clothes into play clothes as soon as they get home. Try to get more than one wearing from clothes before washing. Treat stains immediately with a stain removal pen or spray. And save “good” clothes for school, church and family outings, using older clothes for play and chores.

• Plan each family member’s wardrobe in advance so you can afford to wait for sales or until you find the items you need secondhand. Having to rush out and buy three new pairs of jeans for school, when you knew school would be starting soon, can cause you to overspend. Advance planning can help cut your clothing bill by half or more.

• Get out the sewing machine and whip up some simple pieces. While you may not feel competent enough to create a whole wardrobe, even beginning seamstresses can make simple shirts and skirts for the kids. If needed, take a sewing class to improve your skills

• Get creative and adapt what you have on hand. Adding trims, replacing buttons, or shortening a hemline are tasks that most any mom can handle with ease. And these simple changes could turn an old or outdated outfit into something new and exciting that your child will be thrilled to wear.

• Choose washable fabrics. Factoring in the cost of dry cleaning can shoot the price of kids’ clothes through the roof. Be sure anything you buy – new or secondhand – is machine washable. The savings will be substantial.

Feeding a Family for $300 a month?

October 17, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Feeding a Family for $300 a month? 

By Tawra Kellam

I do something that most people think they can’t do today. I feed my family of 5 for $300 a month. Most people say that’s an impossible feat, but what boggles minds even more is that I do it without using coupons.

How do I do it? First, I use what I have. If I don’t have milk in the house, I don’t make a special trip to the store for it. The kids won’t die from malnutrition if they miss drinking milk for a day or two. If I’m out of bread, I’ll make some cornbread or muffins. If I’m out of fresh veggies, I will use canned or frozen instead. Stop going to the store for one or two things. I shop for food 2-3 times a month and that’s it. You’d be amazed how much this saves on the cost of gas.

Shopping the clearance sections, I regularly find milk on clearance for $1.20 a gallon. My store marks the milk down a few days before the “sell by” date. The great part is that milk stays fresh for 1 week after it’s opened. I generally only buy the milk when it’s marked down and I buy enough to last until the next time I find a great deal on it. I throw several in the freezer and then I don’t have to make a special trip for milk (or pay the premium price). Just thaw, shake and serve.

Purchase meat only on sale or on clearance. Again, butchers mark down their meat a day or two before the “sell by” date. Generally, meat is good for 3-4 days after the “sell by” date in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer.

I never buy meat unless it’s on sale for $1.99 or less a pound. If it’s not on sale, we don’t eat it. (Even so, we never have a shortage of meat in our house.) You can get some great unadvertised deals just by watching the meat counter’s clearance items. I found 5 lb. rolls of hamburger for $2.95 each just the other day. Of course, I stocked up and will have enough hamburger to last the next 6 months.

I can get “soup bones” with enough meat on them to make a great vegetable stew for under $2.00 for the entire family! Add some rolls and you have a complete meal for 5 for less than $3.00. When chicken is on sale for $1.66 per pound, I stock up. I do this with all my meats. This way we can always have a variety of meats.”

Another important tip: Ask. Most people are intimidated by asking, but I regularly ask when things will go on sale or be marked down. By asking, I’ve found out that bananas, milk and meat are marked down each morning. I try to shop in the mornings to get the best deals. When we lived in Texas, the stores marked things down in the evening, so we made it a point to go shopping in the evening. Adjust your shopping times to find the best deals.

Serve your family proper portions of food. Most parents give their kids way too much milk, juice and soda. My kids get soda on special occasions only. They eat milk with their cereal. For snacks, they eat a piece of string cheese, fruit or one or two cookies. The kids don’t sip on milk or juice all day long. They drink water and are just fine with it.

As a general rule, I try to give them one vegetable and one fruit for lunch and dinner and then a piece of fruit with cookies or cheese as a snack.* This way, they get their “five a day” in very easily. Stop letting kids just “graze” on chips and other snack food all day. My kids get one small “bowl” of chips (1/2 cup to 1 cup depending on the size of the chips) a day and that’s it.

So what do we eat? Here are some of our menus:

*Slow cooked roast,* brown gravy, onions, carrots, potatoes, buttermilk muffins and a fruit plate (The next day, the leftovers from the roast are used as barbecue beef along with potato salad, green beans and strawberries or grapes.)

*Pizza (homemade),* tossed salad and fruit
*Maple glazed chicken,* scalloped potatoes, glazed carrots,applesauce and dinner rolls
*Sloppy Joes,* cucumbers and tomatoes
*Tacos,* refried beans, green beans, sliced apples and tortilla chips w/ honey

With savvy shopping, you to can cut your grocery bill even when prices are going up!

Cost of Raising Baby on the Cheap

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · 1 Comment 

Have you ever read those reports on the cost of raising a child?

The last time I checked, I was told that it would cost the astronomical figure of $430,470 to raise my baby… and that didn’t include college tuition!

The people who come up with these figures must not be very creative. Some of the best things you can do for your child are free or very inexpensive.

Here are some tips for raising kids on the cheap.

1) Breastfeed

You can save roughly $1,000 in formula costs alone in your baby’s first year by breastfeeding. Check out this report:

This figure doesn’t include the extra costs you would incur from Doctor visits and medications. Breastfed babies are less likely to need medical care and don’t get sick as often as their formula fed peers.

Formula feeding increases a baby’s risk of both acute and chronic health problems not only during childhood but well into adulthood. If you’re a working and breastfeeding Mother, you’re less likely to miss work than if you were formula feeding.

In addition, a breastfed baby can go straight from the breast to an open cup, thus eliminating pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups.

Even baby food is not necessary. The healthiest first foods for baby are fresh fork-mashed avocado, banana, sweet potato and the like. If you’re breastfeeding, you may be able to delay the introduction of solids until as late as 8 or 9 months.

2) Use Cloth Diapers

All I am saying…is give cloth a chance!

The modern cloth diapers are nothing like Grandma’s. The nicer ones are made from high tech materials that wick moisture away from baby, and utilize snaps or velcro to close instead of pins.

They save you a lot of money especially if you save them and use them again for subsequent children. You can buy them cheaply at thrift stores, online auctions, and diaper services (check your phone book for listings). Or ask for cloth diapers as shower gifts.

3) Rethink your Needs

Think about what you REALLY need to raise your baby. A lot of the expensive items sold in baby stores are completely unnecessary and some are even harmful. Most of the people raising children on the planet today do so without cribs, walkers (which Pediatricians recommend against anyway!), playpens, changing tables, swings, “educational” toys, etc.

Many Moms have found that a soft cloth carrier or baby sling was the only gadget they really needed. Baby is happy, stimulated by your activities and entertained. And Mom can get stuff done!

The best toys are simple and classic and require imagination. These are often the least expensive too! And most kids do best with few toys that are rotated. Think back to your own childhood…what were your favorite toys? If you can even remember them, they were probably not loud, flashy electronic battery powered gadgets. Your best childhood memories probably come from activities…playing in Grandma’s backyard, going places with Mom and Dad, the simple things.

For the baby stuff you really can’t live without…

4) Buy or Obtain Used

Let friends know that you welcome hand-me-downs and you’ll be blessed with all sorts of great stuff!

High quality clothing and baby equipment generally doesn’t wear out from just one child’s use. For safety, check to make sure items haven’t been recalled and get the owner’s manuals from the manufacturer’s websites. (The one exception would be child safety seats. Always buy those new.)

Shop at thrift and consignment shops and online auctions. Some of the very best deals can be found at regional consignment sales. Check local parenting magazines and websites for the locations of these.

Personally, I prefer used clothing because much new clothing has been treated with flame retardants and other scary chemicals that can be absorbed into children’s softer skin.

Being a frugal parent minimizes the impact on the environment, saves you money and models a healthy lifestyle to your kids. Teach your kids what really matters in life…people, not things!

Carrie Lauth publishes an informative newsletter for Moms doing things the natural way. Get your free subscriber goodies at

Save Money:How to Make Baby Food

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Save Money:How to Make Baby Food 

There are so many ways to save money raising your baby! If you’ve wondered how to make homemade baby food, keep reading…

Make Your Own Baby Food- The Easy Way!

Is your baby about to start solid foods? Are you thinking of making your own baby food?

When you make baby’s first foods, you can save money and reduce waste. You also can choose more nutritious options. Fresh foods are typically more nutritious than canned, and you can purchase organic food to prepare for baby if you wish. You can also avoid unwholesome ingredients that show up in commercial baby food.

Making baby food doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. In fact, the easiest and cheapest way is the best way!

The easy way to making your own baby food:

1) Don’t bother with buying one of those baby food grinders. They’re hard to clean and too much hassle.

2) If you wait until your baby is 6 months old to start solids, you can almost always just mash with a fork to the desired consistency.

If you’re breastfeeding, you can even wait until baby’s “pincer grasp” is developed and offer him small finger foods like peas, bits of grated apple, and the like. The pincer grasp is developed when baby can pinch small objects (like those bits of carpet fluff or food on the kitchen floor!) inbetween his thumb and first finger. In fact, if you have a family tendency towards food allergy, waiting longer to start solids may be preferable. No matter what baby’s age, always offer one food at a time and wait several days to watch for signs of allergy before offering another. Take it slow.

3) Start with fresh single ingredient foods like:

Steamed carrot, turnip, potato, yam
Ripe pear, peach, melon, plum
Cooked squash
Grated apple- raw or steamed
Well cooked beans
Hard cooked egg yolks (avoid the whites until 1 year)

Some of these foods could be served raw. Others are lightly steamed (steaming retains more nutrients than canning), to make them softer for baby.

4) It’s not necessary to make a big deal of preparing baby’s food.

If you want to take a lot of time blending food and freezing them in ice cube trays, you could certainly do that. But I’m all for the easy approach!

Although you do want to avoid giving baby salt and sugar (and spices that may upset the tummy), you can usually just take an ingredient from your own menu and “make” baby’s dinner.

For instance, if you’re steaming veggies to serve at dinner, take a tablespoon of them out of the pan before you add butter and salt. Put this in baby’s plate and mash away. Voila! Instant baby food with no extra work. Or take a bit of beef from your roast and mash mash mash until it’s very soft.

Even when you’re at a restaurant, you can either bring an apple with you and “grate” it finely with a spoon at your table, or bring along a banana or other portable food. Any restaurant with a salad bar would have cooked beans or avocado. Or give baby a bit of your baked potato (before you add the goodies on top).

Life with a new baby is challenging enough. Keep starting solids simple!

For more helpful tips on simplifying life with kids, visit:

About the Author: Carrie Lauth, mom of 4, publishes a free newsletter for Moms doing things the natural way. Get your copy plus free subscriber goodies at:

Money Integrity: Teach Your Children Well

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Money Integrity: Teach Your Children Well 

© 2004-2005 Darlene Arechederra

‘Live so that when your children think of fairness and
integrity, they think of you.’

— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.–

We think of integrity as doing the right thing when no one is looking. Does this hold true for money, too? Share with your children the money values you’d like them to carry into adulthood. We have opportunities to teach our children, even in unexpected ways!

Consider a few quick scenarios.

1. You find a $100 bill as you enter a local grocery store. Would you ask Customer Service if anyone has reported losing any money recently, and what amount it was?

2. You arrive home and discover a puppy sitting on your front doorstep. He has no tags on him. You bring him in out of the cold and keep him for the night. The next day, you discover his particular breed is worth $1800. Would you attempt to locate his owners as you might if he were a mutt?

3. You place a health & beauty order through a coworker, and she mistakenly thinks you’ve already paid her for it. Would you give her the money you owe anyway, or would you keep quiet?

4. You and your family have just eaten a meal out. Due to several factors, it was not as enjoyable as you had hoped. The bill arrives, and you notice some items were left off the bill. Would you pay it without saying anything?

5. You’re living a frugal lifestyle. You agree to join family members for a meal out to celebrate mom’s birthday. Do you order frugally, yet chip in a fair share for mom’s meal? Or do you skip contributing to mom’s meal and have others cover the entire portion?

6. Your last paycheck was $600 more than it should have been. While deciding whether to notify Payroll at work, your spouse spends the entire $600. Do you call Payroll anyway, knowing they’ll probably deduct the money from each of your next few paychecks? It will leave you no money for several weeks.

7. You’re selling your old clunker. Do you disclose any problems you’re having with it? Does your answer remain the same regardless of whether your buyer is male or female?

8. You discover that someone you dislike at work received a much bigger raise than you. Do you share the amount of his/her raise with your friends and family?

9. You purchase an ebook online — it was exactly what you were looking for. A week later, you’re feeling a money pinch. Do you ask for your money back on the ebook, even though it more than met your needs?

Children notice the decisions we make on a daily basis. Why not teach them how to develop money integrity — through your own interactions and decisions!

Do you have a scenario you’d like to share? Please email it to me. I’d love to hear from you.

Author and ezine editor Darlene Arechederra inspires busy women to put the fun back into saving their money. Her complimentary newsletter serves up heaps of motivation with a unique, down-home style of writing.

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