Busy moms hardly have time for a leisurely stroll through the mall, but they need to find quality items at affordable prices nonetheless. In a frantic scramble to grab what you need, it’s difficult to stock your home and outfit your kids without breaking your budget. Slow down, and use these simple timesaving techniques to trim your budget without cutting back on any of the essential—or even luxury—items for the family.
Shop in Bulk
Purchasing essential items in bulk is a great way to cut down on the per-item price of a product. If you know you’ll use hundreds of diapers and wipes and dozens of packages of cheese crackers and juice boxes, why not stock up now and enjoy a lower overall price? Perhaps best of all, this method of shopping will cut down on the number of trips you need to make with restless little ones.
Coupons are a mom’s best friend. With retailers like Walmart offering storewide coupons for everything you need, there’s no reason to shop without them. Make a list of your necessary items before you leave the house, and conduct a thorough search online using sites like RetailMeNot to see what kinds of deals you can find. If you can hold off on a purchase you don’t have a coupon for, give it another week or two to see if a deal turns up.
Borrow Before You Buy
Some items, including books and movies, get limited use before they’re relegated to a shelf to live out their lives collecting dust. Before you invest in these forms of entertainment, borrow copies first to make sure you enjoy them. If you read a great book at the library, and know it will become a beloved favorite that you return to again and again, by all means, add it to your shelf. If the kids are decidedly lackluster about the adventures of this particular character, send it back to the library and try again with nothing wasted.
Rather than buy a book your children might hate, try finding it at the library first, so that they can read it for free.
Shop Out of Season
Shopping end-of-season sales is a bit trickier for kids than it is for adults, but if you’re a good gauge of your child’s growth rate, you can cash in on big savings. If you’re concerned your picks won’t fit by next season, look for versatile clothing that can work in any season. Jeans that are on sale at the end of winter can carry you through spring and into the cool summer evenings. T-shirts on clearance at the end of summer are perfectly fine for layering under a hoodie all fall and winter.
Check Out Generics
Generic brands are a low-cost alternative that will often help you slash prices dramatically. It’s true that some generics are inferior to the name-brand alternative, but you won’t know until you try. You may be surprised to find that store-brand chicken nuggets, pizza and sandwich bread taste every bit as good as your favorite name brands. Many generics are even produced in the same factories as the brands you love. Branch out from the names you know, and you may end up stretching your dollars further than you imagined.
Shop Used Items
Children’s clothing is often in excellent condition when it moves on to the next owner simply because the first possessor grew too quickly to wear the items more than once or twice. Check out garage sales, clothing swaps and secondhand stores for gently used items at a fraction of what they cost new. You can use the savings you reap from buying used clothing to splurge on new shoes. Shoes tend to mold to the wearer’s foot, making them a poor choice at the used-clothing store, even if they are a good deal.
Children add a host of ongoing expenses to your budget, but these costs don’t have to drain your wallet dry. Simply incorporate one or several of these smart shopping techniques, and you can enjoy products that are every bit as good—with price tags at a fraction of what you would ordinarily pay. The options for what you do with all that extra cash are endless, so you can start planning for a fun splurge.