Hand-Me-Downs Can Help You

Michelle Duggar, 39, of Little Rock, Arkansas, just gave birth to her 16th child. With more than half the children under the age of ten, it's no doubt that the Duggar family has the perfect hand-me-down system for everything from strollers and toys to clothing and shoes.

Chances are that you don't have quite so many children, but you still know very well how quickly kids grow out of things. Buying new can mean a huge squeeze on your wallet for items that will be rendered useless within a year. But there are ways to give your bank account a break and still make sure that your children have everything they need and more.

Local religious organizations, community centers, relatives, friends, secondhand stores and the Internet can often boast a wealth of clothes, strollers and bassinettes and toys, much of it in nearly new condition.

While you may want to purchase some things new — special occasion outfits such as for holidays or baptisms — your young children will simply outgrow "onesies," booties and shoes too quickly for it to be worth buying all new. Just remember to wash and disinfect used items before putting them on your children.

As for used items such as strollers or car seats, you want to make sure they have all the proper parts, as well as instruction manuals. Before you buy these items, do some background research on their safety features and check whether they are still available for warranty by the company. If you see a lot of wear, or loose or missing screws, don't buy them.

Within your extended family or circle of friends, it's likely that your children want the same toys and books. Don't buy duplicates of the same things, but instead cut some spending by creating a time-sharing system. In the process, you'll also teach your children the important lesson of sharing with each other.