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Instant Money Savers

Your kids' clothes; saving on social events

Money drainer: You come across new outfits your child's outgrown while you're cleaning out her closet. Too bad you forgot about them before she (or her sister!) got a chance to wear them.

Money savers:

? Rotate clothes regularly. To make sure her 2-year-old wears all the clothes in her closet, Tonya Hawkins of Dunmor, Kentucky, hangs just-washed items on the right side and takes her daughter's clothes for that day from the left. "This way, we cycle through everything, and nothing goes unworn."

? Turn the closet into a mini-boutique. Arrange your children's clothes by size and separate them with the type of size dividers (labeled "12 months," "18 months," and so on) retailers use on their clothing racks, suggests Blumer, who did this with her two kids. You can order a set of dividers from OneStepAhead.com or ABCtarget.com, or you can make your own.

? Sort and store. Elizabeth Donovan of Fairfax, Virginia, marks big plastic bins by clothing size and season, and stacks them in the garage. "Every time Kathleen, my two-year-old, outgrows something, I throw it in the appropriate bin for my eleven-month-old to use when the time comes," she says.

? Shrink 'em. If you're too short on room to store bins, put clothes in vacuum storage bags (available at spacebag.com or the Container Store), which allow you to remove extra air. "Once they're deflated, you can stack the bags on a shelf or suspend them from a skirt hanger in the closet," Blumer says.

Money drainer: There's a birthday party tomorrow, so you dash out and grab the first gift you see  -- despite its hefty price tag.

Money savers:

? Stock up and save. "When I see a great toy on sale, I buy several to keep on hand," says Lori Verni, a mom of two in Holly Springs, North Carolina. "I also stockpile wrapping paper in a balloon print  -- it's gender neutral and can be used anytime."

? Think outside the toy box. Allison Carter, a mom of two and a professional organizer in Marietta, Georgia, likes to give gift certificates for places like Gymboree, Chuck E. Cheese's, or Build-A-Bear. Other options: a pass for the movies or a bookstore gift card. You can buy most of these cards online (or at the drugstore) and skip the shopping spree.

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