March 28, 2014

Saving Money on Kids' Clothes: Easy Money Saving Tips Round Two

This article is part of a series. You can read the other articles here, here, here, and here.

As parents, we all know our kids grow so, so fast. One day, your adorable son or daughter is happily crawling along. The next, her or she is running all over the place. It also seems that the wee ones wear an outfit once or twice and then, suddenly, it no longer fits.

Off she goes! This is also her new Easter dress, mentioned later.

It's as if the clothes were shrunk in the washy by magical clothes-shrinking evil elves. Or, more likely, demons since elves are the nice little creatures that make cookies. They couldn't possibly be the ones taking your adorable baby's cutest outfit and making the pants into shorts and shirt into an inappropriate crop top.

To make an upsetting situation even worse, those twee little outfits can cost a shocking amount. An amount that gets even more shocking when you realize a new wardrobe is mandatory every few months. So what is a money-conscious sticker-shocked mama (or dada) to do?

Simple: shop KACTS.

Shop in the Know
Know what your child has and what he/she needs. This is the foundation for the rest of the tips. You have to know BEFORE you can acts (get it?) Think about your child's current size and the next one. Have you already gotten a ton of jammies? Is there only one pair of jeans? How many socks are in the drawer? This helps you shop with a mission so you're not grabbing a ton of things you don't need (just because they're cute) and wasting money on them rather than getting the items that are on your to-get list.

I keep bins of M2's clothes for upcoming sizes and keep track of what she has. That way, when I'm applying all the other tips, I know what we really need and don't waste money stocking up on something of which she already has a ton. (Though, there will always be that one cute item she doesn't NEED but is too cute not to HAVE. ;) )

Shop Ahead
Near the middle to end of each season, clothes go on sale to make room for next season's duds. Figure out what size your child will be in when that season comes around again. For example, winter clothes tend to go on sale soon after Christmas. What size will your child be in that time next year? Once you know that, you can shop the sales for next year. This saves a ton of money as you won't be stuck at the start of next winter having to pay full price (or getting a smaller discount) for items. True, they won't be the "current" fashion, but as long as that doesn't bother, savings will add up. Also take note of what brands don't fit your child right, or run small, so you can avoid them or buy up a size.

All those cute holiday items for Halloween, Valentine's Day, Christmas and the like that cost a fortune in season? Wait until the holiday is over to buy them for the next year.

I wait until holiday items are on clearance and then stock up. On Halloween, I grabbed M2's costume for next year for about $2 at Carters. It was $40+ regularly. It's just not worth paying full price for something that's so seasonal and worn so little. I also found her cute jammies and shirts for next Christmas at 75 percent off, a fraction of what I'd pay if I waited until the next Christmas season to get them. I avoid buying Osh Kosh brand as no matter the size, it never fits M2 right. Target's Circo brand runs small on her so I skip it or buy up a size. Every other brand I've bought, she fits true-to-size.

Christmas jammies and shirt bought in 2013 for 2014. 

Shop with Coupons
Many stores, such as Kohl's and Carters, offer decent coupons regularly. When you pair these with other sales and discounts, your final total will plummet. If you're not close to a store you like, keep an eye out for a coupon or deal offering free shipping. Also know when your favorite stores run their best sales and pair your coupons accordingly. Many stores run sales often, but when are the BEST ones? It's easy to figure out over time. As I mentioned in the shop ahead section, end-of-season and after Christmas sales tend to be the biggest at any store. If you time it right to jump when the sale starts, you can get the best selection.

For M2's Easter dress this year, I found an adorable dress that was $24. There was no way I wanted to pay that much, even though it was a dress she could wear for spring and summer as well. Lucky for me, Kohl's had a 50 percent off sale. I then combined that with a $5 off coupon they'd sent me and a 20 percent off deal that was running when you paid with a Kohl's credit card. After tax, I walked out of the store with a beyond adorable dress (that M2 LOVES) for $5.90. I couldn't even find something that cheap at a thrift store and this was brand new! You can see a side shot of the dress in the top picture of this post--M2 didn't want to stand still for her photo shoot.

Shop Thrift 
Check out thrift and consignment stores but remember to be picky. Is it stained? Does it have holes? Is there a button missing? Zipper broken? Something else wrong? And remember, just because it's at a thrift store doesn't mean that it's a good deal. Try different stores to see which has the best deals and selections. Dig around the racks at the good ones and you'll find some deals. Hand-me-downs from friends, siblings and cousins are always the ultimate thrift shopping.

I've found that many thrift and consignment stores have items that are way too worn, but when I dig, I can find some that are like brand new. When I go, often there's only a small handful of items worth considering. Given the fact that I can save so much when I buy on clearance, that allows narrows the options as many times, thrift store prices are the same or more than what I'd pay for brand-new clothes. If it's really cute, I still get it even if it'd cost the same new. It's not always just about price! Dressing up little girls is way too much fun.

Consignment sale finds.

Shop Savvy
More than one store may carry the same item. For example, Kohl's, Carters and TJMaxx all carry the Carters brand. Check them all out to see who has the best price, sale and coupons before you buy. It's also helpful to know about how much you'd pay for an item at its lowest price so you can know when something is or isn't a good deal. When you walk into a store, skip the front racks and go straight back to clearance. Though, remember, just because it's on clearance doesn't mean it's a good price. It really pays off to know your prices and how much you're willing to pay for an item. Because clearance racks can be iffy (sometimes selection and prices are good, sometimes not) do a run through whenever you're at the store. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of having to get something every time you look; that will just end up costing you more! Walmart and Target have a great clearance section. Many of their items are a great price to start, like Walmart's new $5 footie jammies.

I've come to know the cheapest price I can (usually) get an item at. This helps me figure out the most I'm willing to spend on something. Jeans? $5, tops. Tshirt? $2-$5. Shorts? $2-4. Outfit? $7 or less. Jammies? $8 on the very high end, $5 on the lowest. My lowest price ever was 30 cents for a brand new adorable pair of shorts at Kohl's. If something doesn't fall in my range, I skip it, watch for sales and scour the clearance racks another time. Target is great for clearance racks so I check every time I'm in there.

Now that you're in the Know and can shop ACTS, happy shopping AND saving!

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  1. I would have to say be careful buying clothes too far ahead. With my girls I never knew for sure what sizes they would be in a year. Growth spurts etc. If you can, buy from a store that is willing to take things back down the road. Just keep tags attached and hold onto receipts. Carter's and Khol's I know have very good return/exchsnge policies. Holding onto the receipt quarantees you will receive back the price you originally paid.

  2. I also recommend Target. I've gotten great prices on clothes for my girls and have had no issue with quality. Though I buy jeans at Walmart for my daughter that wears size 6 they're the only place that has ones that fit her right. Too many places carry only skinny jeans


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