Shopping on Impulse
How many times have you ended up paying too much for a basic commodity -- dashing out for a single can of formula at the convenience store, for example, or plunking down top dollar for a child's birthday present rather than finding something on sale at Toys 'R' Us -- because you needed it right this minute?
But one of the bedrock truths of modern consumerism is that almost anything can be had for a lower price -- if you plan ahead and are willing to do the research. In the latter regard, today's consumers have an immense advantage over those of the past, because the Internet has made it possible to comparison shop for everything from clothes to travel to insurance to phone service. And sometimes, all it takes is saying no -- and not necessarily to the kids, but to yourself. After all, it's a rare toddler who objects to wearing a hand-me-down.
Yet legion are the mothers who splurge on the latest toys or newest clothes. "It's hard to resist some of the adorable kids' stuff that's out there these days," acknowledges Jane Cressi, a Milford, Pennsylvania, mother of 15-year-old twin daughters. "But my advice to parents is this: Save your money now, when your kids don't care what they wear or play with, because it will change when they're teenagers. That's when you'll wish you had all the money you wasted when they were babies!"