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9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes: Part 2

Last week I shared part 1 of how we clothe our four children on our single-income budget.  Today, I’m sharing the second part of how we save on kids’ clothes, including how we take advantage of end-of-season clearance to buy new clothes a year ahead for our children.

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 Gently Used Clothing (continued from Part 1)

6.Consignment Stores for Children 

In our area, we have a few choices for second-hand clothing stores specific to children.  By far, my favorite is Once Upon a Child.  Most of these stores will screen the clothing they take in (as opposed to accepting anything like some second-hand stores to).  Prices reflect the value of clothing items, based on condition of the item and name brand.  So, when you buy from such stores, you can be fairly certain that you are buying clothes that are free of holes, stains, rips, excessive fading, etc.

What makes stores like Once Upon a Child so attractive to me is the ability to sell your own gently used clothing to the store in exchange for either cash or store credit!  I really appreciate this feature for my daughter’s wardrobe since many of her items are still in excellent condition as she is the only girl.

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If any of my children have wardrobe needs, I will take store credit so that I can purchase what is lacking.  If I have something else in mind to buy from another store, then I will take cash.  Sometimes I even take some of both.  Who doesn’t enjoy shopping without having to spend any money? 🙂

  • Tips: many of these retailers also accept toys, books, puzzles, baby items, and more.

Pros: wide variety, quality clothing that has been screened, ability to make money

Cons: may not accept all trade-ins, must watch prices carefully (they tend to be a little higher than second-hand stores)

7. Second-hand Stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.)

Second-hand stores offer a good source of gently used clothing, especially when garage sales are out of season.  Local second-hand stores, rather than chain stores like Goodwill, often offer the best value.  We have a store in our small town that charges only twenty-five cents per clothing item.

  • Tips: Look for 1/2 price days or weekends at chain stores (Goodwill’s is once per month), sack sales, or coupons to save even more money.

Pros: save money buy buying second-hand rather than new, wide variety of items, support charity when shopping some stores.

Cons: prices are often much higher than garage sales (and sometimes even store clearance), some clothing isn’t in the best condition.

8. Facebook Groups and Craigslist

If you are tech-savvy and enjoy shopping online, you can find some great second-hand deals on facebook or craigslist!  Many towns and counties have developed online garage sale type pages for users to sell clothing (and other items) locally, much like Craigslist only via facebook.

I have both sold and purchased clothing items on such a group, and the transactions really depend on the people you are dealing with.  Some sellers/buyers are very honest and easy to work with, while others are just out to make a buck.

Also, safety can be a concern since you will have to meet the party who is selling/buying in order to complete the transaction.  Always, always, always meet in a public place and never go alone if you can avoid it.

Pros: local buying and selling, better pricing than many second-hand stores, easy to find seasonal items like Christmas apparel and Halloween Costumes

Cons: little to no regulation of items being sold, no way to leave feedback for negative transactions, need to arrange meetings, less variety than a second-hand store

Buying Brand New

9. Shop Clearance at Retail Stores

Shopping clearance is really a hobby of mine. 🙂  I like to shop, but our budget is tight and I want to be a good financial steward of the finances God provides for us. I also know that material things are only transient, so I don’t want to place a high value on them.  Finding a clearance rack allows me to meet needs while also enjoying my hobby. 🙂

Shopping end-of-season clothing in particular allows us to buy new, quality clothing at second-hand (sometimes even garage sale) prices.  Such items are particularly helpful for our boys since most items will be handed down twice, and some even survive well enough to be passed on to younger cousins!

However, clearance shopping is one area in which I must exercise caution.  The excitement of a good bargain often leads to over-spending or over-buying (how many skirts does one preschool girl really need?!).  Additionally, department stores thrive on marking items up and then promoting a sale thereby convincing consumers they are getting a bargain when, in truth, they are not.   So, before I share my rules for clearance shopping with you, I must caution you not to blow your clothing budget by making the same mistakes I have.

  • Tips: Before you attempt to shop end-of-season sales for next year’s wardrobes, know your prices (takes time and research), know your budgetand know your needs (keep a list if you need to).  My favorite stores for buying quality clearance clothing are JC Penneys, Kohls, The Children’s Place, Old Navy, and occasionally Walmart.

Rules for Bargain Shopping

Buy When:

  • the item is needed (either currently or for the next year)
  • you see evidence of multiple markdowns already
  • you have extra percent off of already reduced prices (I like to wait until items are 70-90% off original prices. For online buying, check for coupon codes at retailmenot.com)
  • you will earn rewards to buy other needed items (such as Kohls cash)

Exercise caution when:

  • you’re tempted by price alone
  • the item will be difficult to match (example: a girls’ skirt with a weird color of pink or purple in it)
  • end of season clearance has just begun (I’ve learned that some stores, Kohls in particular, mark some things as “clearance” that are really just their normal sale prices. If you wait for a few weeks, you’re likely to see much better discounts.)

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Why buy a year ahead?

Whenever possible, I take advantage of seasonal clearance to buy a year ahead for our children (I mentioned this in Part 1 in the Garage Sale section).  Thinking ahead is a technique I learned from couponing, and it makes a lot of sense.  When prices are extremely low, buy more than you need for the present so that when you need the item in the future, you will not have to pay regular price.  For clothing, that translates to buying a size or so larger for the next year.

For example, when summer clothes go on clearance, I think about what they will need for their wardrobes next summer, including swimsuits and footwear.  Thinking ahead is particularly helpful for items that tend to be more costly, such as Easter and Christmas dress clothes.  Example: Once I found a toddler boys’ Christmas suit (vest and tie included) for $1.97, so I bought it even though it would not fit our son for 2 more years.

The only two downsides to buying ahead is that your budget might not allow for extra purchases (even frugal ones) and you may not have the storage space necessary to keep clothing for a year, especially if you already have several children.  In those cases, check for an area of the budget you can pull a little extra cash from (such as food) and ask friends or family for storage space in a garage or attic.

Once you have built up a little clothing in storage, buying ahead will not be as much of a stretch for your budget because you won’t be purchasing as many items for immediate needs.

  • Tips: Be sure to pay attention to how their current clothing fits and their general body type.  For example, I’ve learned that our children all have my husband’s long torso, so I usually have to buy one size larger in shirts than in pants.  Additionally, our only daughter is quite thin, so regular pants often look like clown pants on her.  Thus, when buying ahead for her, I only purchase leggings and skinny jeans or slim sizes.
  • Disclaimer: Buying ahead may not work as well in the teen years when youths are prone to skipping whole sizes at once – we’re still learning about these years as our oldest is about to turn 14! 🙂

That wraps up part 2 of how we save money on kids’ clothes in an effort to live frugally.  Saving money on clothing is just one way that we stretch our budget; for more ideas, read 5 Ways to S-t-r-e-t-c-h a Budget.  I hope you find this information helpful!

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely places.

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9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes: Part 1

Quite a few months ago, I mentioned in 5 Ways to S-t-r-e-t-c-h a Budget that we save a lot of money on clothing for our children, and I promised to share details later on.  Well, I’m finally getting around to it! 🙂

Clothing expenses can easily burden a larger-than-average family, especially a family living on a single income.  In our home, when we have a budget issue, our first method of attack is to pray.  We try to pray for our needs before we even begin to attempt to meet them (of course, we don’t always remember to pray first).  And when we remember, we pray for wisdom to be good stewards of the finances God has blessed us with, as well.

Here are 9 specific ways in which we save money on clothing for our children.
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Clothing for Free!

1. Hand-me-downs

Since we have three boys, this money-saving technique worked very well for us until we had our first girl (aside from our oldest’s tendency to wear holes in the knees of his pants in his elementary years). 🙂  Save the clothing that isn’t stained or sporting holes in a well-labeled, clear plastic tote for the next child.  

Pros: no expense necessary after the initial purchase!

Cons: some items will wear out after several children.

  • Tips:  Do not get rid of clothing (even if your youngest child is a different gender from older siblings) until you are certain you will not be having more children!  Also, buy quality clothing whenever possible (find out how to save on new clothing in part 2 of this post) because the clothes will last longer. Finally, If you have no hand-me-downs to begin with, be willing to accept them from others in your circle – family, church family, friends, neighbors, etc.  I can’t tell you how many times even our neighbors became the answer to prayers for our clothing needs, especially when we found out we were having twins!

2. Swap Clothing

Find a friend or group of friends to swap clothing with.  For several years, I swapped cloths with a friend who had a son older than our youngest boy and a daughter younger than ours.  So, she traded her toddler boy clothes for my toddler girl clothes.  We also received clothes for our daughter from church family; these clothes had been through two other families before ours!  Search for a large, organized clothing swap in your area, or even organize one of your own.

Pros: No extra spending necessary!

Cons: Storage space needed for totes.

Gently Used Clothing

3. Thred-up

Thred-up (www.thredup.com) is an online site for both buying and selling quality, second-hand children’s clothing (and women’s, as well).  Once you sign up for a membership using your e-mail address, you are free to purchase.  If you want to earn store credit by selling items you no longer need, you’ll want to request a bag from them.  Fill the bag up as much as you can, send it in and they will give you a price quote.

Pros: receiving credit for clothing you send in; clothing is well-screened.

Cons: online only store means no trying things on; paying for shipping costs as well.

4. E-bay 

E-bay is another online site for both buying and selling, although it’s not solely for clothing.  Again, you can sell your gently-used items to earn money to buy what your family needs.  Additionally, you might find brand new clothing listed for lower than retail.

Pros: ability to earn by selling.

Cons: clothing isn’t screened; can’t try on clothes; shipping costs.

  • Tips: when buying on e-bay, please be careful to choose a seller with a high feedback rating.  Also, if you need a large amount of clothing, listings for clothing “lots” will give you the best value for your money.

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5. Garage Sales

My favorite way to save money on clothes is to buy them at garage sales.  By far, yard sales average the lowest prices for gently used clothing.  I’m a bargain shopper, so shopping at yard sales is just a lot of fun for me, especially when I find items we really need.  Of course, not all garage sales are equal, so I still watch prices carefully.

Pros: fun to shop; best prices.

Cons: seasonal in our area; quality of clothing varies.

  • Tips: when buying at garage sales, you can buy more than a year ahead if the price is right and if your budget allows. Buying ahead will save you money in the long run.  Be sure to store your items in well-labeled, clear plastic totes or you may forget/overlook some like I did last year!

…………………

Click here for part two of 9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes , including more ways to shop for gently used clothing and how to take advantage of end of season clearance sales to buy brand new clothing at second-hand prices!  Until then remember: when you are offered hand-me-downs or when you find great prices at a garage sale or even the clearance section, think long-term. Don’t accept or buy only what you need for the current season (unless it will break the budget to do otherwise), but plan for a size or two ahead!

Of course, as with anything in life, learning to save money is another one of those work-in-progress areas. The best way to be a good financial steward is to cover all of your budgeting and spending decisions in prayer.  I know I often forget to go to the Lord first even though He promises to provide.  I’m not always the best at trusting in Him to provide, but He is able, sisters!

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these wonderful places.

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5 Ways to Stretch a Budget: Part 2 (the practical bit)

Yesterday I shared with you the first half of 5 Ways to S-t-r-e-t-c-h a Budget.  If you haven’t read the first half, I encourage you to do so as it contains the foundation of our frugal living.  In these tough economic times, it’s hard to find ways to make a small budget work, especially if you have a large family and are living on a single income. These tips should help.

And now, for part 2:

3. Pray for Your Needs and 4. Buy Gently Used

(these two overlap quite a bit)

Appliances – Finding good deals on appliances is admittedly harder than saving money on other items, but it can be done!  Our first action is to pray about it.  Remember, the Lord promises to provide for our needs.  Our favorite money-saving techniques when buying gently used appliances are to look at garage sales, ask friends and family to be on the lookout for us, check craigslist, buy scratch and dent, and so forth.

Vehicles – We have never had a car payment, ever. When we realize that it’s time for a new (to us) vehicle, we start praying! Sensing a theme yet? 🙂 We know we cannot afford a car payment while attempting to pay down student loans, so we ask God to send us a vehicle that will meet our needs as well as our budget.  Praise the Lord, He has always provided the vehicles we needed, sometimes even at no cost to us, including the necessary switch to a minivan before the birth of our twins!  Then, we are often able to pass on the blessing by giving our old vehicle to someone else in need.

For necessary car repairs, we also pray.  My husband does whatever he can himself, but if it’s a major repair, we usually have to ask for help.  We’ve been blessed with some mechanics in the family, but when they are busy we have also turned to church family or friends.  If you know someone mechanically minded, you could even trade services – offer to babysit, make a meal, or some other skill you or your husband have!

Furniture – In our home, you will not find new furniture. It’s a luxury we cannot afford, although I’ll admit I’ve been tempted at times!  The majority of our furniture has come from garage sales, hand-me-downs, Goodwill, Craigslist, and so forth. We often pray for furniture needs as well, especially when we moved last year and our twins needed to graduate to full-sized beds and dressers of their own.

God provided a set of bunkbeds, a loft bed, a few dressers, a desk, and more – most of which came from one garage sale.  We had looked at loft beds online for our daughter’s room since it was going to be quite small, but they were very pricey. We prayed about it and just didn’t feel peaceful about spending that much money on a want.  That very weekend, God provided via the garage sale where we found a white loft bed with matching shelves and dresser – all for $50!  They wanted to get rid of it so badly, they even threw in an extra desk. Praise the Lord! If we had not been willing to wait, we would have unnecessarily spent well over $400.

Baby Items – We have pretty much outgrown the baby years here, but when we found out we were pregnant with twins over four years ago, I learned a lot about trusting God to provide for needs in this area.  He provided a second crib, clothing, a second exersaucer (which wasn’t even a need, really), and so forth from generous friends and even neighbors. We even found car seats we really liked on clearance in one of those moments when you know God is just blessing you for the fun of it! 🙂

I also shopped a lot of garage sales, but my favorite place to shop was the nearest second-hand baby store, called Once Upon a Child.  Not only are the gently used items half the price of a new item, but also outgrown baby clothing and items can be traded in for cash or store credit.  If you don’t have one in your area, check for another baby thrift store. E-bay was another source of gently used items that I utilized.  Last but not least, I often swapped items with ladies at church. For more ideas on how to save in the baby area, read 9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes.

Vacations – We do splurge a little in this area (at least what we call splurging). God has always provided a way for us to vacation when needed.

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Now that my husband ministers full-time, vacations are becoming much more of an actual need than a want, and as the saver in the family, I’m learning to see them that way. 🙂  However, the funding isn’t always available, even for a “cheap” vacation like camping. In this case, we have vacationed at relatives’ homes, we have swapped houses, and we have even found some ministries for pastor’s families who help provide lodging.  If you are a family in full-time ministry in desperate need of rejuvenation, please visit this site: http://www.lawrencewilson.com/free-retreats-vacations-pastors/ .

Utilities – You can only stretch this budget so far since heat and electricity are necessities (in this country anyway).  However, setting the thermostat at 66 or 67 in the winter months and 75 or 76  in the summer months saves quite a bit of money.  If you can’t go that far, even a couple of degrees can make a difference.

Consider rewarding your children for turning off unnecessary lights or appliances in the home to motivate them to keep utility costs to a minimum.  Additionally, we utilize the budget-billing program to keep our monthly costs even, which is easier to budget for. Consider investing in energy efficient appliances, but only if you have the finances to.  Again, if your budget is lacking, pray about it.

5. Do It Yourself Whenever Possible

Haircuts, Home  improvements, Home decorating, Lanscaping, Gardening, Sewing, Homemade cleaning products – whatever you can do on your own rather than paying someone else to do is like money in the bank!  A $25 pair of clippers lasts a long time – just sayin’. (See this tutorial to learn how to cut boy hair at home and my pinterest board for lots of other DIY tutorials.) Learn how to re-purpose everyday items such as baby wipes.  And with the invention of Pinterest and the DIY blogs readily available, we really have little excuse to avoid learning some new skills, right? 🙂

If you have already tried to d-i-y and it just isn’t working, why not trade services to save money on the things you need help with?  A few years ago, I promised my husband I would never again ask him to lay laminate wood flooring after we sold our previous home.  He was miserable doing it and encountered much difficulty, even with the help of my brother-in-law!  But we can barter with friends next time we need new flooring.

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So that’s how we live frugally to achieve our financial goals.  After 14 years of marriage, my husband has learned to appreciate my frugal nature, and I have learned to allow him to balance it out.  Sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom to buy something new, or something that is a want rather than a need.  I’m thankful for God’s wisdom in the mate He chose for me!

I’m sure I missed something, but I hope these ideas have helped you find areas in which you can stretch your budget, tooEven if you currently have a budget with a little room to spare, why not consider cutting back in just one area so that you can support global missions or feed a hungry child?  When looking around our home, I can see there are things that we could live without even today, so I’m challenging myself here, too.  Remember that as with any changes in life, learning to live more frugally is a work in progress.  Even small steps can lead to success!

Have a great budget-stretching tip?  Share with us in the comments!

Jen 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, you might suggest these practical suggestions for making things last:

http://harvestlanecottage.blogspot.com/2013/06/forty-ways-to-use-it-up-wear-it-out.html

or this post with additional ideas for savings in order to live on one income:

http://yourmodernfamily.com/how-to-become-a-stay-at-home-mom-on-one-income/

or these postw detailing how to save on kids’ clothes:

9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes (part 1)

9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes (part 2)

 

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