Budgeting with Baby and Beyond

Being a smart and savvy shopper has many benefits, not least is saving money! No matter your budget, you may also be saving up for big goals like a family vacation, college or retirement. It’s fun to comparison shop and seek out treasures at resale shops or online sites like eBay or Etsy. Whether you’re working to stay within a tight budget or trying to save for your family, there are many options available to becoming a smart shopper and saving money along the way.

Ways to Save Money

Resale shopping has become such a trend in the clothing business that there are many shops in Traverse City and northern Michigan. A few of these include Gally’s, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Double Edge, The Women’s Resource Center, and two locations of Zany, in both Traverse City and Acme.

Kid’s resale shops include Once Upon A Child, Twice Trendy Tots, as well as Goodwill, Women’s Resource Center and The Salvation Army. Moms groups and churches often hold clothing and baby item swaps too; keep an eye on community calendars where these events are often posted for the public. Talk with your friends and other parents in breastfeeding or playgroups too. With children of similar ages, you may be able to swap gently used items with each other as your children grow out of them. It is a great way to help each other save money.

Grocery store options have increased in our area as well, and many are great if you’re on a budget. There is Save-a-Lot, Aldi, Meijer and Walmart, to name a few. Wherever you go, it helps to plan your meals ahead, make a list of things you need for those meals, and stick to your list. Coupons can save you money, as long as you stick to your shopping list and don’t impulse shop just because you have a coupon! Other things to remember:

  • Less expensive brands are often stocked on high or low shelves so don’t just look at eye-level
  • Skip the pre-prepared and packaged foods; they are often more expensive and less healthy
  • Watch as your items are scanned to be sure you’re getting the correct price.
  • Fresh fruits and veggies are an important part of your nutrition – buying produce that is in-season will help make these essential items more affordable.

Buying in bulk is another way to save. Consider what items you use frequently and check into places like Costco or Sam’s Club to buy those items in large quantities. Some items are always needed and can be stocked up during sales too – just make sure you have a place to store those 96 rolls of toilet paper!  Buying store brands or generic brands are also less expensive than name brands, and should be considered for staples like cooking oil, flour, sugar and butter. Frozen and canned produce are also good items to buy generic. Dollar stores have their place too, and are good for things like cleaning products, baggies and kitchen utensils.

When Budgeting Doesn’t Cut It

Caring for your new infant or small children can be challenging. The last thing you want to worry about are covering some of your more basic needs, like food and clothing. If your budget is so tight you can’t afford some essential items, talk to your Healthy Futures nurse.

Young families often struggle financially and there is no shame in wanting to do what is best for your child. Having an honest and open discussion with your nurse can help start the process of connecting you with essential services as soon as possible.

Northern Michigan has several social service agencies like the Father Fred Foundation, The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and The Women’s Resource Center, where you can find clothing, household items and toys for kids. Community action agencies, churches and food pantries also have much to offer.  Programs offered though the state include WIC (Women, Infants and Children), which assists with healthy nutrition, and Medicaid.

Many of the above agencies can also help with paying bills. NMCAA is a resource dedicated to strengthening communities through helping families achieve greater economic security.

Whatever your struggle may be, there is help available. A big part of giving your child the best care is to also take care of yourself. Assess your needs and ask your Healthy Futures nurse for more information. You are not alone. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives – and there are many people and organizations in northern Michigan who are committed to helping young families like yours.

Your Healthy Futures Nurse can help you find help if you need it.