Secrets of a Super Thrifty Mom: Part 3

Cynthia Dermody
Toddlers & Preschoolers

recession guide

recession guide

Photo by ReesesPieces

Toddler mom Clarisse (aka ReesesPieces) has been revealing her penny-pinching strategies for getting out of debt and cutting household costs with. No, you don't have to be born this way -- Clarisse is living proof that frugality can be learned, practiced, perfected -- and even enjoyed. This stay-at-home mom has been busting her way through a monstrous debt in a short time on a very small income.

And these habits have been key toward that goal.

Clarisse previously shared her strategies for saving money on diapers and food. Today she finishes up with tips for finding cheap children's clothes, activities, and babysitters. Read on for how to save money on ...


Shop end of season for the next year I never pay full price for anything, and children's clothing is no different. The only times I actually buy new is in January and August, when the stores are clearing their winter clothing for deep discounts. I just use my best guess of what size my kids will be. Sometimes I go up 4 or 5 sizes because it's a cute outfit and they'll be able to wear it eventually. And there's always a way to get around "seasonal" clothing. I mean, toddlers still wear T-shirts all year round.

Find stores with the deepest discounts My favorite places are Kmart, Kohls, and occasionally Babies-R-Us. Kmart always puts its sale clothing at an additional 40 percent to 50 percent off the clearance prices. I've gotten many outfits for less than $1 by shopping at Kmart during those clearance sales.

Kohls usually has good sales, and when you can catch it right, you can get some amazing clothing. I do have to watch myself at Babies-R-Us and Toys-R-Us, because they will suck you in every single time, and their clearance prices tend to be a little higher than I'm willing to pay. There are times when you can catch deals there that are 50 percent off clearance prices, but they are few and far between.

Hit the yard sales! Not only are the prices cheaper than consignment stores, but you're helping a neighbor. Every single time we've had a yard sale, the proceeds go towards paying off our debt, and there are millions of other people who are doing the same thing. Kids go through clothes so quickly, so the wear-and-tear is minimal. I have gotten some incredible, name-brand, expensive clothes at yard sales for $1 or less per item.  


Give back There are wonderful things children can do to build character without having a set schedule that costs you an arm and a leg. Some of my favorite childhood memories were things that I did with my mom.

We would go to a nursing home once every other week and visit with the people there. At first I thought it was kinda weird, but those people told the best stories. I hope to do that with my own kids. It's free, and it teaches them the value of service to others. 

Soup kitchens, neighbors, church members, and community non-profit organizations can all use help from time to time, so the best thing you can do with your child is teach them the value of service. It gives them time to think about someone other than themselves. Toddlers can even go when they are in good health and nothing brightens someone's day like the smiling face of an angel.

Get some culture Call symphony centers, opera houses, art museums, and science centers. They usually have at least one free day a year. Tourist attractions also offer discounts or free days for locals.

Don't forget the festivals No matter how cheesy they may sound, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you'll find. Every year there's one in our state called Mule Day. It sounds like a hick fest, but it really is a lot of fun. Never in a million years would I think the Strawberry Festival would be something I'd want to attend, but year after year, we line our little family up and we watch the parade go by and enjoy the festivities. And seriously, what kid doesn't love a parade?

Discover mother nature Go hiking, camping, biking, picnicking, or swimming. You will be shocked at how many free activities there are -- you just need some creativity and a little phone time to see what your area offers.


Make a trade Instead of hiring a sitter, exchange services with another couple. We've done this with some friends for a year now, and it works well. We have a standing rule that they get one night out and we get one night out -- that way we aren't always watching their kids (or vice versa). It's a lot cheaper than paying a babysitter, and you know the kids are in good, capable hands.

Check your church Talk to the director of the youth group. At our church, there's an award for the young women who complete a number of hours of service. This is a great way to help them (and get a sitter).

++I want to hear your money saving tips, too! Share here ...


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