Frugal moms: Parenting is the most important job in the world! How to do it frugally with style!


Frugal moms everywhere know the value of saving money on kids' stuff. No matter how much money you have, it seems like it is never enough for the unending supply of things that raising children requires! Here are my best tips for being a thrifty mom.


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  • Consignment shopping is a great way for frugal moms to find baby gear and clothes for their children. It is especially easy to find infant and toddler clothing in excellent condition because babies generally outgrow clothes before they have a chance to wear them out. Once they get into the school-aged years, it can be hard to find play clothes in good condition, especially for boys! But dress clothes are still a good find at consignment stores.

    Consignment stores typically sell clothing in excellent condition for about 1/3 the price of that item new. They often mark things down after a month or two, so frugal moms can get real bargains on things that have been in the store for a while. I have found perfectly good outfits for $1 or less!

    You can also take your children’s outgrown clothing to be consigned at a consignment store, and use the profits from the sales toward ‘new’ purchases there. (See consignment selling for information on selling things on consignment.)

  • Garage Sales are another way to find inexpensive clothing and toys for children. It can be time consuming to sort through a lot of stuff to find what you want, but sometimes you find a gold mine that makes it all worthwhile!

  • Swap. As everyone watches the employment rates plummet, swapping is becoming the new way to do business. There are no taxes to pay on transactions, and everyone benefits. SwapMamas is a great site to swap all kinds of things from recipes to baby furnishings!

  • Join a babysitting co-op. Babysitting co-ops are groups that trade child care with each other. No money is changed hands, but you watch another member's children and earn credit with the group which you trade for someone else to babysit your children. If a co-op is not an option for you, use these excellent guidelines for finding a babysitter.
    frugal moms
  • Make or decorate it yourself. A cute way for frugal moms to customize clothes for children is to sew or paint (with fabric paint) appliqués onto inexpensive solid-color t-shirts or sweatshirts. This is especially fun for a holiday shirt – choose a pumpkin theme for Halloween or a cute angel or teddy bear for a Christmas-y look!

  • Trade formal wear.

    Last year my teenage daughter and her friends decided that instead of spending money on new dresses for the Homecoming Dance, they would trade among themselves. They each had two or more formal dresses sitting idle in their closets from previous occasions, so they all had a good time deciding which dress would suit each girl for this dance. They all had fun and looked fabulous in their “new” dresses without spending anything! What smart young ladies! (They will probably grow up to be frugal moms themselves!)


  • Kids Activities Provide you kids with creative playthings that allow them to use their imagination and save you money at the same time. For example, you can make a cardboard play house from a large cardboard box for next to nothing, but your kids will spend hours playing with it!

  • Birthday parties
    Frugal moms know that birthday parties for kids do not have to be expensive. See my

    birthday ideas page for some tips on keeping kids' birthday parties affordable.

  • Costumes
    Costumes are not just for Halloween - kids often need costumes for other occasions, too. It is useful to have homemade costume ideas for any occasion from items that you have at home or can find easily. page for easy costume tips and ideas.

  • Pack your own lunch and healthy snacks for kids . Buying snacks in individual serving sized packages is convenient, but a waste of money. Frugal moms buy the larger packages of pretzels, chips, cookies, etc. and pack them in zip-top bags each day. Your cost per serving will be a fraction of what you would pay for the individual serving packages.

  • Teacher's Gifts When my kids were in elementary school, they liked giving gifts to their teachers at the holidays, so we picked a different craft project each year so that they could make their teacher gifts. One year we made tree ornaments with applesauce and cinnamon.

    Another year I traced cookie cutter shapes onto plain white fabric and sewed two together to make a cute puffy “pillow” ornament. The kids decorated each one with fabric paint. You can find other ideas online or by browsing the aisles of a craft shop such as Michael’s or Joann Fabrics.

  • School Supplies Always stock up on school supplies when they are on sale in August. The prices are outrageously low at this time, and they are much higher (especially for loose leaf paper and wire bound notebooks) the rest of the year. I learned this lesson the hard way when my children needed to restock their paper supply in December and I had to pay two dollars for a package of that lined paper that sold for 4/$1 in August!

    As for backpacks, I skip the cheap character ones and buy the ‘boring’ excellent quality ones (I get ours from LL Bean, but there are other similar retailers that have sturdy ones that they guarantee). They last for 3 or more years, so I pay a little more to start with, but save money in the long run.



  • Organize Your Life An organized home and routine can be a frugal mom's best asset! A few tips on organizing your home and your cleaning routine can greatly reduce stress in your life and make you a better mom!


  • Baby Stuff Frugal moms of babies have a different set of challenges. See my Baby Stuff page for tips geared toward the parents of babies.


  • About Allowances teaching kids to be responsible with money

    Frugal moms want to teach their children to be frugal and responsible with money. One of the best ways of teaching money skills is to give them an allowance from an early age.

    I have given my kids an allowance since they started school. I have found that they are much more responsible with money that is their own than they are when it comes from a seemingly bottomless pit (Mom or Dad).

    Everyone has different ideas about allowances and what amount they should be. This will be based on your income, your child-raising philosophy and other factors. My rule of thumb was a dollar a week for each grade in school. In second grade, they got $2 a week; in eighth grade $8 a week and so forth.

    When my oldest started high school I wanted to round it out, so I told her I was going to give her $10 a week (starting in 9th grade) but this was her last ‘raise’. She would get $10 a week until she got a job. Then she would have her own money and would no longer get an allowance (At that point I needed that money to pay for car insurance because she was DRIVING!). And that is what we did, and it worked very well. My son is in high school now, and we are doing the same thing. However you decide to do it, I strongly suggest that you start giving your kids their own money for some of their own expenses so they can learn the value of money and how to manage it.


  • College: applying for financial aid and scholarships Be sure to apply (
    or have your child apply) for all the financial aid and scholarship you can the year before they plan to go to college (February of their Senior year of high school). No matter what your financial status (if you are reading this, I am assuming you are not a millionaire…) you have a chance of getting some type of financial help with college. There are hundreds of scholarships that go unrewarded every year for lack of applicants! It doesn’t cost anything to apply for these, and it will give your child a taste of all the paperwork and essay-writing that they will have to do once they get to college!


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