Friday, January 30, 2009

How to Find Free or Inexpensive Items for Kids and Babies

Today’s column is written by Cheryl Maguire, a mother of boy/girl twin four-year-olds and a baby girl. A stay-at-home mom, she runs a website called Swap Savers, which is a social network for frugal folks who love freebies, coupons and rewards.

Kids and babies require everything from clothes to car seats and much more. Most of these items are expensive and are only used for a short period of time. Here are some ways to find free or inexpensive kid or baby items.

Ask Friends and Family: If you need specific baby equipment or are willing to accept any free kid/baby things, inform everyone you know. Most kid/baby items are large and take up a lot of space. Some people are only too happy to pass along their things to someone else, especially if they are able to get much-needed storage space back. I have received lots of free toys from my sister’s friend, a person I have never even met!

Consignment Shops: There are consignment shops that exclusively sell used clothes and gear for babies and children. Even though they are considered used, you can often find items in like-new condition or clothes with the original sales tags still attached. Another benefit to shopping in a consignment shop is that you can often sell your own used belongings or use them as credit to purchase new things. I am a member of a group for moms who have multiples (twins or higher) called Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles (KPMM). KPMM is a non-profit organization, and they have a store where they sell used or like-new baby and kid items.

Yard Sales: Check your local paper to find out when and where the yard sales are being held. Sometimes, home daycares also have yard sales. Many yard sales are filled with kid or baby items. One time, I got a Cozy Coupe Car for $1 in like-new condition. The regular retail price is $50!

Freecycle: Freecycle is a network of people exchanging items for free. It is now present in eighty-five countries. You can join a Freecycle group in your area by going to the main website. I have given away a lot of items I would have had to pay to throw away. I have also received a free crib and toddler bed in like-new condition.

Craigslist: Craigslist is a classifieds website found in fifty countries. You can find items for free or for a fee. In addition to searching for items you need, you can also sell your used kid/baby items through Craigslist. My friend was able to purchase a like-new outdoor playset for a fraction of the price if purchased new.

eBay: eBay is another great site where you can purchase or sell used baby/kid items. They also have small businesses on their site. For instance, KPMM has an online store on eBay where they sell some of their used kid and baby items.

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