The cost of raising kids these days is staggering.   Between clothing, toys, books, furniture and everything in between, there seems to be an endless list of necessities that no child can do without.   For some parents, finding ways to save money is an absolute must!

Here are a few tips that have proven useful for our family.   Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult or painful, and if you are willing to be creative about it, it can even be fun!

Shop off Season – One of the best ways to buy brand new clothes for your kids is to buy them when they are *off-season* meaning, they are not the current seasons fashions.   I’ve found wonderful buys at department stores such as Sears and Zellers simply by shopping and stashing away my finds until the proper season.   The one draw-back is that you have to do a bit of guess work and buy clothes that are a little larger, not knowing exactly how much your child will have grown between now and *then*.   Still, given the alternative high prices of regular in-season merchandise, and the potential savings of (in some cases) up to 90%, it might just be worth the risk!   Items that don’t work for your children may be given away as gifts or perhaps sold at a later time.

Thrift Shop – There are so many wonderful bargains to be found while perusing the Thrift Store Scene!   Kids outgrow clothes so quickly, that they are often barely worn when they are donated, so you get new looking clothes, and save huge amounts of money. Brand name labels on quality clothes abound in pretty much any thrift shop.   Some even benefit your community through supporting local non-profit organizations.   By buying second-hand, you are helping your community and saving valuable resources by being environmentally conscious. You are also being smart, by keeping your money in your wallet where it belongs.   Additionally, toys are another purchase that you’ll make often as a parent, and buying second-hand just makes so much sense!   My kids quite enjoy a trip to the local thrift shops, to check out the latest toys while I check out the savings!

Consign – If you’re not so much the do-it-your-self seller type, why not give your used kids stuff to someone who *is*?   There are loads of consignment shops that deal exclusively in children’s merchandise! Many offer loyalty programs and member discounts, so be sure to ask what extras you might get by consigning with one shop over another.

Sell Privately – With many on-line classifieds and even the old-fashioned print kind, you may consider selling some of your items yourself.   Make sure you take a photograph of the items to be sold (a picture is worth a thousand words afterall!) and make sure they are in good, clean and useable condition.   Items should be priced according to their condition, and original cost.   You may also want to check into safety regulations and standards for baby items, as some out-date themselves quickly, and may be unsafe for use.   Another great place to sell, well, pretty much anything is eBay!   There are countless auctions for teriffic items, at huge savings. Not only that, but you can buy things from all over the world, and have access to unique things that you simply wouldn’t find locally.   Start the bidding!

Swap – Why not trade clothing and other kids necessities with friends who have children of a similar age.   I have one friend who had her children at the same time I did, except she had her girl first, and her boy second while we had our boy first and girl second, so we are able to trade gender specific clothing back and forth for our younger children!   It’s a great way to share resources.   You might also want to think about sharing child-care duties with other parents.   You can trade-off childcare and offer each other a break, and there needn’t be any cost involved.

Share with us some of your tried and true saving tips!   We love getting feedback and others’ willing to share their ideas!