Buy 2nd Hand
You can find really great deals at thrift stores, and some of the things are in awesome shape. It's all about taking the time to find a thrift store you like and look through what they have. It can be hit or miss, but don't give up the first time you don't find exactly what you are looking for.
Think about buying used toys. Your younger children aren't going to know the difference and you will save heaps! In fact, at some thrift stores you can even find NEW items that people have just given away.
Used children books are priced at 1/10 the price of new books. They may have been loved previously but your child is going to love them just as much.
It is completely possible to find fantastic clothes and shoes for you and your children at low prices. I've been able to find barely worn shoes for my tots. This past week I splurged and spent 14.99 on a pair of size 3 pink Nike shoes for my daughter. (Originally over $30) I couldn't help it; it was like they were waiting there for me. Other finds were snow boots and snow pants for $9 total!! Check with your local thrift stores, because ours has days where everything in the store is 50% off.
This Christmas we bought a few toys new and the rest were from different thrift stores. With our kids being so young they will never know the difference.
Get to know other moms
I know what you're thinking. How is getting to know other moms going to help me save money? Well, the whole point is the idea sharing! I realize we don't all feel like going to the park only to walk up to a stranger to ask them how to save money. It can be much easier then that!
Join an online forum! There's no better place to get ideas then from a bunch of moms who are in exactly the same place as you or have been there before. The biggest two parenting forums that I know about are CafeMom and BabyGaga. The best part is that you can be as anonymous as you please.
Keep an ongoing grocery list
Heading to the grocery store and not knowing exactly what you need can result in overspending. My advice is keep an ongoing list as you run out of items or when you are getting low. Keep the list in a spot you'll remember on a daily basis. Make the list available to add on items at all times. (This will also help with not having to run back to the store.)
To make shopping organized and easy I suggest rewriting your list before you leave the house in sections. For instance think about how you walk around the store. I always start by going over to the fruit/veggie section and then head over to the meat. By categorizing my list by where I find each item and in order of how I walk around the store I lessen the chance of forgetting something or having to walk back. Oh, and don't go to the store hungry!!
Make money with your old stuff
Sites like Ebay have made it increasingly easy to sell your stuff online. All you have to do is snap a picture or enter a barcode for items already in the system. Buyers pay for shipping, just set up a Paypal account to receive your funds.
I've sold old video games, clothes that the kids have outgrown, old digital cameras and even clothes that I wore post-pregnancy that I wouldn't dare wear now. Over the past year I've made a couple hundred dollars selling things that would otherwise sit in boxes.
My only word of advice is make sure you pay attention to the listing price. Ebay offers 50 free listings a month, but they have stipulations on auctions and days listed. Play around with the site, and get to know it. Check out what similar items are going for. Ebay does take a percentage of your earnings, as well as Paypal, but those percentages are very small.
Do your BIG shopping after the season
You will find the best deals on everything from clothes to holiday decorations after each season. The best time to buy summer clothes for your children or yourself is after summer or near the very end. Stores need to get rid of their seasonal inventory so take full advantage and buy in bigger sizes for next year for your children.
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