I am the last person in the world to be giving organizational advice. I subscribe to every blog that offers quick tips to improve my day, read every book promising peace through color coordinated craft cabinets, bow at the altar of REAL SIMPLE. What I have learned through these resources, and what you don’t learn in school (but should!) is that family management is the most important skill for saving money. Family management includes organizing your home and your children’s activities (which is a whole separate post) menu planning and matching coupons to grocery store sales to lower your bills, and organizing clothes by season to utilize hand me downs.
Hand me downs from older kids or friends and neighbors, multiples sales, and yard sales are a frugal parents dream. I am blessed with clothes from family and friends, and take advantage of the great consignment sales, multiples sales and yard sales in my area. The key is to keep clothes and shoes organized so that you can find the winter jacket on the first cold day. I utilize plastic bins that are sorted by size, but not by season–that will be the next project. Then when I need something I “shop” my attic before going to the store. My boys get excited when I pull the attic steps down because there is always something fun squirreled away. Shopping my hand me downs still provides the thrill of the hunt but helps keep me out of the mall–saving money!
Find a menu planning strategy and stick with it! I have learned my grocery shopping and coupon skills from Gina at Moneywise Moms–also a multiples mom–(www.moneywisemoms.com). In addition, each week the blog Baby Cheapskate (www.babycheapskate.com) rounds up the best diaper/formula/wipes/other baby deals for the week and matches them to coupons to make your shopping easier. Finally, be sure to sign up for Amazon Mom for discounted diapers, wipes and formula shipped right to your door and earn up to one year of Amazon Prime membership. This was a lifesaver for me during the toddler years when it was hard to get out of the house with two one-year-olds and a four-year-old, and they often have the best prices.
I have been practicing money saving strategies for the last seven years and wish I could be more consistent. But like you, I am overrun with laundry, trying to educate and entertain my four-year-old boys, and keep up with a myriad of volunteer commitments for my older daughter. I find that even pockets of time–five minutes to collect coupons before shopping, ten minutes to organize a drawer, an early Saturday morning trip to a consignment sale–helps lower our bills in the long run.
No matter what the age–infant, preschool, elementary, or teen–multiple children have multiple needs. How do you stay organized with multiples?
Leslie is a freelance writer, nursery school co-oper, girl scout leader, PTA volunteer and parent to an amazing 7-year-old girl and two adventurous 4-year-old boys who tries very hard to stay organized.