Saturday, April 6, 2013

Help Your Dollar$ Go Further and Keep Your Kids In Style!

It seems like I just took the tags off the wardrobe my daughter has already outgrown.  Some items still have tags on, and many have been worn only once or twice.  I feel like I need another income just to keep her clothed.  That's not including her need for dance leotards, tights, shoes and costumes for jazz, tap and ballet.

I shouldn't complain.  Until recently she had been small, a peanut really.  I guess I'm just not used to these continuous growth spurts, which have been going on for about a year now.  No more shrimp!  I keep telling her to stop growing but she just won't listen. Since last Spring she's gone from a size 5/6 to an 8/10.  In shoes she went from a 13 to a 2.5.

What's a parent to do?  My budget certainly hasn't grown to match my daughter.  She has always had a certain sense of style, a unique look of her own that has drawn compliments from both her friends and their parents. I know there are many other parents who must be in this position, trying to make their money stretch in a tough economy while still wanting their kids to look great! So with that in mind, here are some ideas to... 

Help Your Dollar$ Go Further 
and Keep Your Kids In Style!

  1. Use Coupons for your favorite stores - most department and children's stores offer coupons by email, text and snail mail.  You can sign up on the store's web site.  Many have reward programs that will earn you extra points, bucks or other rewards/cash back.  It is not necessary to sign up for a credit card for these programs.  Many stores will take the coupons right off your cell phone, but check each store's policy before shopping.  You should be able to save at least 20% or more on new clothes using coupons.
  2. Shop Consignment Sales. These sales may be held at a regular store location or periodically on a larger scale in your community.  Previously owned (and sometimes brand-new) clothing, toys, baby items, furniture and books are sold at a very deep discount.  All items are inspected and only items that meet quality standards can be sold (nothing ripped, torn, stained or any outdated styles).  You can get some excellent deals on really cute and stylish clothing and accessories.  It is also a great place to sell off some of your own kids outgrown items.  Here is an example of a local consignment sale coming up so you get the idea:
  3. eBay - If you are a smart shopper and you know what to look for, eBay can be a good place to shop for kids clothing.  Try including the term "lot,"  or "mixed lot" in your search. This will bring back results with more than one item.  Evaluate the shipping charges before bidding as a big lot can get expensive; ask sellers if they will combine shipping on multiple auctions, most will and it will save you a lot!  You'd be surprised how much will fit into a large flat-rate Priority Mail carton.  I recently won 4 auctions including 2 pairs of boots, a pair of Converse, jeans, a hoodie, a sweater and a cute top and the shipping was under $12 for everything.  Try to look for quality brands that you know and trust, and a seller who accepts returns.  Don't go over your budget in a bidding war.
  4. Yard/rummage/garage sales - the weather is warming up now and there will be more of these popping up.  It's harder to find nice clothes but sometimes you can hit it and find gold.  You can also find cute costume jewelry, belts, hats, purses, etc.  And it's something fun for the kids to do on a warm day... like a treasure hunt.
  5. Thrift shops - here you may have a little better chance of finding something, depending on the size of the shop.  Some larger shops tend to overprice their merchandise, but there's no law that says you have to buy.  ALWAYS check for stains, rips, holes, etc.  Remember these are things someone else donated... which to many people means they are throwing them away.  They don't bother to check whether they are fit to be worn by another person.  So before you spend your hard-earned money, make sure it is worth it.  Most places have try-on rooms too, so if you are not sure, make sure.
  6. A Friendly Swap - Once a season, get together with other moms in the neighborhood.  Have everyone bring their kids' outgrown clothing (and maybe some food or drink to share) and pass the clothing down to whoever it will fit. Let the kids play runway model if they are up for it!
What kind of money-saving advice do you have for parents to stretch their clothing budget?  Tell me about it in a comment!

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