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One thing about me is that I'm cheap. No, not cheap. Frugal. No, careful with my money. No, no, careful with God's money. Yeah, that's it.

I've been this way for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I would get hand-me-downs from my older cousin who bought brand name clothes. I always enjoyed getting her Gap and Banana Republic outfits because I figured I wouldn't be able to afford such fancy items. Then when I started shopping on my own, I realized you can get super cheap stuff just about anywhere with a clearance section. And a monster was born.

To this day nothing thrills me like an amazing deal. Having a child gave me a whole new industry in which to stretch my bargain-hunting skills. And there are some amazing deals to be had.

These are some of my favorite deal hunting spots but beware: If you're not ok with hand-me-down baby items, this list is not for you. And if you think that 30% off at Gymboree is a great deal, then we have different definitions of a great deal.

Clearance Sections - If you go shopping on a regular basis and have no trouble walking out of a store without purchasing anything, it's totally worth it to regularly check out the clearance sections in your favorite stores. Every so often you'll run across some crazy mark downs. Like an additional 50% off the already super marked down clearance items. But there will be lots of shopping trips with no good deals, so if you can't leave a store without buying something, it's not going to work.

Goodwill/Resale Stores - These are fun if you don't need anything specific and want to just look around. Goodwill is so hit or miss, but I enjoy going there and I can usually find a book or toy or something worthwhile. Here in the Chicagoland area we are blessed with children's resale stores, Once Upon A Child. They're dangerous.

Garage/Rummage Sales - Summertime around these parts offers tons of garage sales each weekend. It's nice and easy to peruse the ads on Craigslist and find ones that specifically list children's items. Rummage sales are even more fun since they're usually larger and stuff goes half price on the last day. I can't stress enough the joy of half price day.

Craigslist - I know the media says that everyone on Craigslist is a serial killer, but I've done quite well on it. I've found a number of great items at reasonable prices and even some free stuff that people just needed to get rid of! It's always worth a look if you need something specific.

Garbage Picking - This is the grandaddy of cheapness. And likely the line that many will not cross. But before you judge me, let me explain how classy my garbage picking is. In the Chicago 'burbs many of the towns have an amnesty garbage day each year--residents are welcome to put just about anything on the curb without having to pay extra. In some of the more wealthy suburbs, this has become a serious event. And yes, I participate with excitement each year. I've found car seats, bumbos, books, toys, and a barely used wooden kitchen set, complete with pots and pans. And since they're from impressively rich people, I figure they're probably not diseased or anything.

What are you favorite bargain-hunting spots?

Mommy Dearest

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