I have four children, and as any parent knows, every dollar counts. Over the years I've developed a few habits (and some tricks) that have saved our family enough money to vacation. Or buy a few extra Christmas presents. The trick is to find value in old items (ebay!) and watch your dollar on new items.
Below are some of my favorite moneysaving tricks. I hope they help you as well!
Read my post on saving on groceries in Family Life! Save on Groceries
My post about saving at Target...Save BIG at Target
My favorite coupon sites:
The Coupon Mom
1. Never finish an online check out before searching for coupon/promo codes for that store. Many of them are posted online! If I don't have a coupon or a promo code, I don't shop. The same goes for going to a store, check their website for coupons before you leave!!!
2. In retail, everything goes on sale eventually. If you love that sweater for your daughter, wait one month to buy it. Chances are, within that month the price will have gone down or you will have gotten a coupon in the mail or email.
3. Give the stores you shop in regularly your email and address. This is how you get coupons!
4. Giving your clothes to goodwill is wonderful. But there are many people who will buy children's clothes in EXCELLENT condition on eBay. They like the convenience of purchasing an entire season of clothes for less money than buying new. Wash them well, iron them, and take pictures. Name brands sell the best, and if you have clothes with tags on them (new with tags - NWT), they sell even better. DO NOT list items with stains or tears, and if you do, make note of any defects. List the clothes on eBay as a "Lot" (i.e "Toddler Girl Size 3T LOT 30 pieces excellent condition!"), you may be surprised at how much they sell for. "Pieces" are single items, even if they make up a set. I funded an entire Christmas cleaning out the munchkins' closets. Literally. If you go this route list all your items within a day or two of each other. You don't want to be running to the post office every day to ship out another box.
5. Sell toys on eBay. Before you throw any out or donate, check what people are paying for them. My Sports Fanatic saw me selling on eBay last year and he asked me to sell a Transformers toy he no longer used. It was like new. It sold for $26.00. Nice payday for a (then) eight year old.
6. Consign. While I have never taken this route, my cousin swore by it when her daughter was a toddler.
7. SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! If you have to return a purchase, you need to ensure you are credited what you paid.
The best way to stretch your dollar is by watching prices on everything you buy AND bought. This is a HUGE holiday moneysaver. Keep ALL your holiday receipts in a special envelope or folder. If something you already purchased has gone on sale, or you find if cheaper elsewhere, re-buy it and return the original. This also works post holiday, which is great for when stores purge the extra inventory and there is a lot on clearance.
9. Open an Upromise account. This is easy and free. Upromise partners with hundreds of companies (clothes, flowers, magazines, grocery stores...the list is endless) to save your child money for college. You can link all your grocery club cards to your account. When an item you buy participates in Upromise, about 1% is deposited into your account. I know, I know, if Pop Tarts are only $2.50 that's two cents. But it's FREE MONEY. And just like that jar full of change in your bedroom, it adds up. You can also invite friends and relatives to save for you by signing up, linking their club cards and using the online shopping.
The most savings come from online shopping. All you have to do is link onto your Upromise account and click through their site. For instance, log onto Upromise, click "online shopping" and scroll through to find the store you need (almost EVERY store is on there). Shop as you normally would, coupons and all. Viola! More free money.
Upromise links your college savings to a 529 account, and automatically deposits your money for you. I linked my checking account to my 529 accounts, and every month I deposit extra via automatic withdrawal. You can deposit as little as $50.00 in each account. Every parent worries about college, and rightfully so. Every little bit helps!
10. One word: reevaluate. Before I check out in any store, I take a long, hard look at what is in my cart. Do I need this? Do I love this enough to spend the money on it? After the thrill of putting something in my cart, or stroller, or hands....or whatever I am gathering my purchases in...it usually fades. And by the time I check out I am actually over buying it already. So please, do yourself a favor, and re-evaluate! That way you only buy what you really need. Because if your child needs pajamas, you will buy them. But you will most likely put away that shirt he doesn't need if you hold it up and think of the 25 shirts in his closet already.
11. The Coupon Savings Plan: First, for groceries, USE COUPONS! After you grocery shop, check your receipt to see what you saved with your coupons. Take the same amount of money you saved using coupons and put it in a jar. Use this money to treat yourselves to dinner out, a vacation or deposit it in your savings account when it accumulates to enough money.