Jingle Your Wallet! How to Thrive and Provide as a Family this Season

Children Shopping

The sheer cost of raising a family today can be overwhelming when you realize that from baby bottles to graduation parties, it costs the average, middle class family about $222,360 to raise a single child who was born in 2009 from birth to age 18.  We know that’s a BIG number but let’s look at ways to save money.  

For me, the mere thought of holiday shopping causes more stress than anything else.  Lines are long, people are tired and let’s face it, do we really want to see Santa in October at the mall?  Holidays aside, certain times of the year are more challenging but they don’t have to be.  I’m not a super coupon kind of gal but those who are swear they are racking up free items all the time.  However I am a savvy shopper who loves a good deal and rarely pays retail.  Here are my personal favorite tips, tricks and opportunities to save on nearly everything.

Groceries and More

Groceries are a big deal for me.  We have the most beautiful (yes beautiful) grocery stores where I live (hint: they are employee owned), which also have good sales. How do I maximize them you ask?  I always pick up a circular and try and plan my meals around the sales.  BOGO (or buy one, get one) deals are a good way to stock the pantry with those non-perishable items.  I tend to shop the perimeter of the grocery store meaning produce, meat, dairy and deli.  For dry goods I watch Target sales and for bulk BJ’s is my go-to place.  I do look for coupons in the mail, on existing packages, Sunday newspapers and local sales circulars whenever possible.  Overall I’ve seen a decrease in monthly grocery costs of about 22% since I started paying more attention.  In fact I now enlist the help of my 7 year old who gets a practical lesson in math and budgeting.

By the way, did you know that Target rewards you for paying cash?  They’re hip to not wanting to pay the credit card companies for each transaction but how does that affect you?  Simply bring a voided check to any register and you will be the proud owner of a Target Red Card, which is a debit card.  From then on, all your purchases paid for this way give you 5% off your total bill.  Shop online for the same perk and if you’re an AAA member you also save 10% so you can benefit from both discounts when you shop Target online.  My recent score were 2 boxes of Pampers Diapers.  I had two $4 manufacture coupons, a Target coupon for $10 off two boxes and their weekly flyer, which gave me a $15 gift card if I bought 2 boxes.  So 2 boxes of Pampers normally $70 cost $37.

The Other Necessities

Your children are growing every few weeks or so it seems.  Nothing makes me more exhausted than taking my daughter shopping for clothes.  Neither one of us enjoys it and one or both of us usually end up in tears.  For me, I work better alone or online.  I’ve come to know and trust certain brands for their wear factor and will buy ahead during a good sale.  My top personal favorites for both genders are:

Zulily
Naartjie
Boden
Hannaandersson.com

When they have a sale, they have a SALE.  I can honestly say my children have worn items for more than a year and they still retain shape, color and fresh look.  I’m not shy to buy a size up in shirts and pants with adjustable waists are my friends.  I am almost guaranteed a good year or more of wear time.

Online Shopping Tips

Regardless of what you’re buying, do you shop online?  I do and it has made life easier.  Not only are decisions quick but also so is the return process if needed.  The truth be told, I enjoy the extra time I don’t have to haul unhappy children shopping for things so boring as new pajamas.  My top picks for online shopping savings programs are:

Ebates This gets its own category because I’ve been using this site for more than three years and have received over $600 in cash back.  All you do is sign up, shop with your favorite retailer through their site and you earn cash back on your purchases.  Not all retailers participate but more and more are added each day.  Each quarter they pay me through paypal.  It’s like Christmas in July!  Now who doesn’t want some extra cash?

Coupons

Retailmenot and Coupon Cabin are the top two online coupon finders.  Let’s say you want to buy your son a new backpack for the new school year.  Go to the main site and type in “ promo codes for Kohls”  Retailmenot will pull up all related codes which you can enter upon checkout.  Some will have expired but you can almost always find a special for free shipping or % off.  This is especially true if it’s your first time shopping with a particular company.  Now don’t forget to go through ebates so you can benefit from sales, free shipping AND cash back.

A Final Thought

So now that’s you’ve found all these great ways to save, what happens when your children outgrow their favorite robe or the roller skates they only wore twice?  If you don’t have a sibling to hand it down to, that’s okay because I have the solution.  As the seasons end go through the kid’s clothes and purge.  Anything with stains or holes are still worthy of donating to your local organization who distributes items to those in need but what about those gentle worn items or perhaps the shoes you almost forgot about that show little wear.  Two words for you.  Consignment Shop!  “Once Upon A Child” is a national chain.  You pack your clean and folded items and bring them into your local store.  Workers will go through your items and select which they would like to purchase.  You get paid on the spot for your items, which gives you some pocket money for your next shopping trip.  Most stores accept clothes newborn through 14 as well as toys, videos, books, baby equipment and more.  The only two things, which they cannot buy, are car seats and personal hygiene items such as baby baths and potties.  Your area may also have other independently owner consignment shops.