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I know that bringing up a child can be expensive, but I was shocked when I came across a calculator claiming to tell me how much it actually costs. I answered a few simple questions, a number appeared on my computer screen...over $250,000! Ouch!

Because I'm a stay at home mom, I monitor finances pretty closely to begin with, but after seeing this figure I went into panic mode. I couldn't stop imagining my retirement slipping away. Later that day I was reading books with my daughter and found that she had grown tired of many of the stories we'd read over and over. My first thought was to head to the bookstore for a new supply.

But then I remembered the calculator, and even though the expenditure would be a fraction of the $250,000, my anxiety rose. Then it hit me! I should ask a mommy friend of mine to do a book swap. We could both have "new" books for our girls to read without spending a dime! I went through our bookshelves and selected all the titles I thought we could give away. I wrote our names on the inside covers just in case somewhere down the swap line, our oldies become goodies again.

My friend agreed to an initial swap right now and another in a few months, and both daughters have been thrilled with their new libraries. Now I'm really thinking...what else can we swap? Should I pack up a box of toys to trade? Why not? Have you ever swapped? Share your experiences with us!