Cheapskate parenting: lots on the web to help

It costs a lot to raise children. That's the common wisdom.

But it really doesn't have to. Of course, you can do it the American way, and surround them with stuff for their edification and safety. Or you can do it another way. Which means spending time with them and eschewing the bells and whistles our culture says will make us happy.

I dunno. There's a lot I didn't do, and my kids have still turned out OK. So far.

What would have helped in the early days, when they were babies, however, are the many websites devoted to the art of frugal parenting out there these days. I didn't have Parent Hack or Baby Cheapskate ten years ago. I was left to my own devices when deciding there was no need to decorate a nursery for an infant who wouldn't know a duvet cover from a duckie. Or where to find the cheapest diapers. Or how I could survive in San Francisco on one modest income.

Parent Hack is a huge resource for parents to be and new parents. It features thousands of tips, tricks, work-arounds (or "hacks") of day-to-day baby and child rearing from actual parents around the country. Here's a list of what you really need (and what you think you need, but really don't) when getting ready for your first baby from Parent Hack founder and lead writer Asha Dornfest.

Some 70% of America's economy is driven by consumer spending, so it should come as no surprise that marketers target parents with everything they've got. Parenting is huge business, and marketers rightly know that new parents are susceptible to any sales pitch if they think it'll make their precious new baby happier or more comfortable. They don't want you ever to question the need for a baby wipe warmer or knee-pads for your new crawler. But take it from thousands of experienced moms and dads: these things are foolish wastes of money.

Oh, the looks I've gotten over the years. Dressing my babies in hand-me-down Onesies and refusing to buy a huge SUV "for their safety." Now that they're older, they're still sharing a room, and no, that room will never have a TV/DVD player in it. Nobody will get a cell-phone until they're well into their teen years and can pay the bill on their own with babysitting money.

Baby Cheapskate would have been among my favorite sites. Every day it features new freebies and coupons for items such as formula, diapers, groceries and the like. Thrifty Mommy is another great site for the frugal mom.

I know there are lots of other great sites out there. Let's hear your favorites!

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