Table of Contents
Introduction: Keeping Your Family Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
Entertaining Your Kids
Arts and Crafts
Sports and Games
Hobbies and Collecting
Toys, Stickers and More
Health Care for Your Kids
General Health Questions
Diet and Nutrition
Recipes and Cooking Tips
Allergies and Asthma
Free Health Care In Your Community
Pregnancy and Babies
Advice for Parents
Keeping Your Kids Safe
Safety Hints and Tips
Health and Safety Groups
Drinking, Smoking, Drugs and Sex Education
Building Brain Power In Your Kids
Art and Art History
Library Services and Homework Help
Science and Math
Saving the Environment
Protecting the Animal Kingdom
Conservation and Recycling
Free Stuff and Good Deals on Family Travel
Free Travel Information from Around the World
Vacationing Close to Home
Getting There: Planes and Trains
Traveling By Car
Hotels, Motels, Resorts and Other Accommodation Choices
Kids Enjoy Cruises, Too
Vacation Ideas for Grandparents and Grandchildren
Traveling with Teens
Catalogs: Shop By Mail and Save
Video Tapes, Cassettes, CDs, Books and Magazines
Toys and Games
Children’s Clothing and Equipment
Free Books and Magazines
Magazines for Children
Magazines for Parents
Associations and Organizations
Child Welfare Organizations
Youth Membership Organizations
Introduction: Keeping Your Family Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
Let’s face it. Raising a family today is a challenge. Everyone is feeling pinched. Statistics show that the two-income family is more common than ever before. In order to enjoy the extras—movies, special events, vacations, concerts, games, toys, etc.—it takes a second income to make it happen. Things that used to be affordable on one income have become luxuries. Prices for everything are going up, and I haven’t heard any rumors lately about them coming down.
As a mother of two teenagers, I thought I’d been through it all. However, I still kept hearing myself saying, “No, you can’t have it now, we just can’t afford it.” More often than not I found myself wondering if there wasn’t some way we could get around the money crunch. I began checking around, reading obscure publications and classified ads I had always ignored before. I asked friends who always seemed to be able to afford all the extra frills and vacations how they did it, even though their incomes were similar and sometimes even less than ours.
What I found out is there are hundreds of opportunities for incredible free stuff and good deals of which most of us are unaware. For nearly everything I had been paying full price, there exists a similar (or same) item or service for less than half the price, and often for free. I started checking out these offers, sending in postcards and letters. And yes, it was true-soon our mailbox was full of goodies our kids would spend hours enjoying.
In addition, the free information I began receiving enabled me to save hundreds of dollars on health and beauty aids, food and more. I learned how to keep my family healthy through exercise and by feeding them nutritious, balanced meals for a fraction of the cost. All of this started me on my way to committing myself full-time to finding the best bargains available for my family. The results are all here for you in Free Stuff and Good Deals for Kids.
In my search I also uncovered the fact that, with very little effort my family could afford to take incredible vacations each year, including trips to Hawaii, Florida, Mexico and Europe. Planning our trips is no problem, with all the free maps, guide books and travel brochures from state tourist bureaus, foreign embassies, national parks and other travel sources. We now stay at the best resorts and take in of all the tourist attractions, restaurants, entertainment and amusements—getting discounts nearly everywhere we went.
I discovered there is a huge amount of helpful free things and fascinating information available for school-age children. Books, historical information, scientific facts, charts, pamphlets, maps, posters, school supplies, learning tools and aids, to start, are part of an enormous cache of free materials that can make a real difference in your child’s work and play. I’ll show you how to use the power of the Internet to discover dozens of web sites that offer free help with homework, research and difficult questions that can be answered with the click of a mouse.
In addition to the Internet, working moms and busy homemakers can also save time with the convenience of catalog shopping. My method is to send for several catalogs that feature similar items, (i.e., toys, clothing, children’s furniture, etc.) and compare prices from the comfort of my home. I can also take advantage of even lower prices by waiting until a particular item goes on sale and then ordering it.
Finally, I discovered dozens of organizations, associations and support groups, both public and private, that offer help in a variety of ways and in many specialized areas of concern for today’s parents. Most publish free books, pamphlets and newsletters that offer advice, information and additional resources for help. Many have dozens of free publications on subjects such as alcohol and drugs, bicycle safety, AIDS, sex education, teenage driving, literacy, divorce, behavioral problems, child abuse, product information, childhood illnesses and other medical conditions, and much more. Many of these organizations have their own web sites where you can look up everything you need to know. And, if your questions are not answered on the site, many offer free advice through e-mail correspondence.
Now when I see something special for my family, need help solving a problem or require the services of a professional, I first ask myself, “How can I get this for less, or even for free?” I turn to the methods and sources of information described in the following chapters, and most of the time I end up saving money on nearly everything I need for my family.
Use this book as you would a well-equipped tool box. Look inside and use its contents as you would any finely crafted instrument to build, repair, remodel or design from scratch whatever it is that you want. Pick the tools that you need from the wide assortment. Begin using them today! Have everyone in your family pitch in and soon your family will be enjoying vacations, educational benefits, restaurants, entertainment, games, toys, sports, health, and a lifestyle that you never dreamed possible!
©2002 by Linda Bowman and David Caplan
The author of the Free Stuff series of books is a professional bargain hunter. She has appeared on television talk shows, syndicated radio shows, and has been a featured expert columnist in such publications as Bottom Line and Money Worth. She makes her home in the Los Angeles area.