Easy Ways for Parents to Save

In these grim economic times everyone is trying to curb their spending. But it doesn’t have to hurt. Here are

In these grim economic times everyone is trying to curb their spending. But it doesn’t have to hurt. Here are a few ideas to put some extra dollars in parents’ pockets.

Join a toy library. These libraries don’t just offer your child an exciting array of new toys, they also help parents learn new ways to play with their children and provide disabled children with quality, specially-adapted toys. They also provide forums for discussion on parenting issues. Another idea: Swap toys with other parents. Your kids will enjoy variety without extra costs to you.

Use an eco-friendly wash ball instead of laundry detergent. Some can be used for up to 1,000 washes and leave no chemical residue. Available on amazon.com and heartlandamerica.com.

Create castles and space rockets from cardboard boxes instead of buying toys. Pick up some free cardboard boxes the next time you’re at the supermarket, and you and your child can design your own play house.

Buy an electricity monitor to keep an eye on energy-sapping appliances. This can save you hundreds of dollars a year on energy bills.

Re-use plastic bags and other containers. Use grocery bags as trashcan liners; turn yogurt tubs into craft supply containers; and pantyhose as garden-stake ties.

Don’t automatically buy name-brand medicine. Store-brand ibuprofen or acetaminophen is much cheaper than Advil or Tylenol.

Use warm water and cotton pads instead of baby wipes. This costs half as much and won’t irritate baby skin.

Buy wine directly from the vineyard. Usually wines are at least twice as expensive in restaurants or liquor stores.

Sign up for Skype. This online service allows you to call other Skype users for free, and regular phones for a discounted rate.

Buy rechargeable batteries. This will save lots of money for those with lots of battery-operated toys.

Make your own baby food. Pureeing organic carrots and other vegetables costs mere pennies.

House-swap on vacation. This saves a fortune on hotel bills.

Sources: Mother & Baby magazine, Goodhousekeeping.com

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest