Friday, July 30, 2010

Frugal Friday - Planning Ahead!

With kids, big chunks of time are just plain at a premium. It also seems sometimes that no matter what I do, I just have too many things to keep track of. Since I'm someone who likes having big chunks of time to work on things and who likes to have all my ducks in a row, this gets terribly frustrating - especially when financial implications are involved.

How? Well...

Do your children suddenly tell you their shoes 'hurt' only for you to find out that they can barely get their feet in them? Then you find out that no shoes that 'fit the bill' are on sale and you end up spending more on shoes for a 5-year-old than on your own.

Do you realize at 8pm (or later) that you have a party of some type (birthday, graduation, etc) the next day that requires a present? Then you run to the store and scout out the best present for the money - only to find that they have nothing that you like and you end up settling and spending more than you had planned.

Do you open the fridge to find that a key ingredient for what you had planned for dinner has been eaten by someone and you need to run to the store...picking up a few other "essentials" along the way....

Does your child put on their only remaining pair of dress pants to find that the pants are now 2 inches too short and (a) it's either July and impossible to find dress pants for children or (b) that color isn't the 'in' color now or you can't find them without cargo pockets (or something else you don't want) or they're not in your child's size. or... and you end up spending $50 on the only pair of child's dress pants that meet your criteria within driving distance!

Yep.
I've had all of the above happen at one time or another.

And I especially hate the blown budget involved. On top of the gee-I-should-have-caught-that-sooner guilt, heaping blowing the budget on there is something I just don't want to have to deal with.

So....
I plan ahead.

I buy Study Bibles in bulk (10 at a time - and I get a discount!) for graduations, confirmations and other occasions.

I buy cards in bulk by the large occasion specific boxes from Current or our local Christian bookstore.

I plan a menu and stick it on the fridge (this keeps someone *ahem, John, ahem* from eating necessary ingredients). And I have a backup plan in my planner if something does accidentally get eaten.

I keep a gift stash of generic gifts (candles, journals and nice pens & pencils, bath 'stuff', infusers, funny socks, etc.) for giving to friends as gifts.

I buy a wedding gift right after I get the invitation, wrap it and put it on my 'gift shelf' so it doesn't get lost - and that also means that the registry isn't picked over either!


I make one larger donation to a humanitarian charities (Lutheran World Relief, Heifer International, etc.) in December, order a bunch of their donation gift cards, and use them for those "hard to buy for" people throughout the year. I haven't yet had anyone be less than thrilled! (And usually they say something on the order of "Oh good! I don't need anything and this will really make a difference to someone! Thank you so much!")

I have had a gift plan for new babies for years. First babies get a homemade crib size quilt (I make these ahead as much as I can so I don't have to scramble!). Other babies get a nice outfit (purchased on sale, of course) and older siblings get a book (also purchased on sale). Right now I'm behind on the quilts... I better get going on that! I also have a plan for family birthdays, usually involving all books, or shirts, or something like that, and shop ahead.

If I have an extra 10 minutes when I'm at a store (or even 5!), I scan the clearance racks for sale items - particularly dress clothes and shoes - for my kids. Always in the next size up. I once bought 6 pairs of my daughter's favorite bright red Mary Janes because they were clearanced at $2.48 a pair! Each in a different size of course. She had dress shoes for 2 1/2 years! And we never had to worry about something being grown out of at the last minute.

I buy a second pair of winter boots for my kids when the boots go on sale. Since boots are a must in the winter in Minnesota, I buy boots early for my kids. Yes, I pay full price. I had one year when I put it off until the boots were on sale. Never again. We had snow before then and finding a pair was next to impossible. I also ended up ordering boots online for way more than I ever wanted to pay when someone outgrew their boots in February. Since boots leave the stores here in January (hello - winter lasts here until April some years!), as soon as they go on sale, I buy a second pair in a size larger than they are currently in. This saves the "mom-my-boots-are-too-tight!" "Well...you-just-have-to-deal" conversations that we've had in the past.

All of these things save me money, time and peace of mind.

Do theses plans sometimes fail? Yes. There are still many, many days when they work. And I'm very grateful!

How do you plan ahead and save money in the process? I'd love to hear!

For more Frugal Friday, check out Life as Mom!

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Lea