Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seriously, that's all I paid...

     Being a gal with an eye for a bargain, the first place I head is the clearance racks.  This requires you to be a bit of a determined risk taker.  It's always hit or miss and what most bargain hunters don't tell you is how many times they strike out.  I probably only find great deals 10% of the time I check out the clearance.  Sometimes, there's simply nothing I need.  Other times, I see things we need but not the sizes we need.  
     When bargain shopping for your kids it takes a little planning.  My kids have been at the same percentile in height since their 3 month check up.  I have kids that grow pretty steadily from year to year.  That's not to say they don't have growth spurts.  My oldest daughter grew 2-1/2 inches in three weeks before her second birthday.  She also slept 16 hours a day during that time too, which was worrisome, but wow, could I get stuff done.  Back to the point.  You know your kids and how they grow.  Once they quit changing sizes monthly you can pretty buy ahead things they'll grow into without worrying that they won't be able to wear it during the right season.  I try to keep $20 on hand for bargain shopping so I don't let it take over, but I don't have to miss out on a great buy.  
     I try to buy basic items ahead.  Jeans, denim shorts, khakis, polo shirts, solid tees, hoodies, etc.  One of my best bargains was the Target clearance rack where they had marked down toddler sized hoodies to $1.25 I bought 4 each (one per size) of navy and gray in 2T, 3T, 4T and 5T - these were basic plain hoodies and for $10 I  was stocked through toddler-hood.  Plus, the plain solid color made them somewhat unisex and you can always embellish them later with patches or bedazzles.  I've also found Target to be a great spot for the basics - especially for the boys - if you aren't able to catch a clearance bonanza.  Their Legendary Gold jeans are made by Wrangler and the past 3 years they've ran them at $7-$8 (depending on the size) in August, as a Black Friday doorbuster, and usually in the spring.  They've held up as good as the name brand ones I've bought and come in slim and husky sizes and have adjustable waists.  I was told their polo shirts were made in the same factory as Ralph Lauren's.  I don't know if it's true or not, but I've never had a bad one, they run those at pretty good prices too.  I just picked some up on sale for $6 each and I've snagged them for about $4 each on clearance.  They change the colors each season but my boys don't care.  I love the girls basic shorts, leggings and tees from there too.  You can usually find trendy colors and mix them with clearance finds from higher end stores.  Gymboree is my favorite store for the girls things.  They have a Gymbucks program and I make sure to purchase a gift card in whatever amount of Gymbucks I earned so when it comes time to redeem them, I have the money set aside.  
     If you plan to shop ahead - get organized.  Purchase several medium sized plastic storage totes with lids (or use sturdy card board boxes).  Label each tote with a size and fill it as you find items.  I found Gymboree denim bib overalls once at TJ Maxx for $5 a pair and bought one in each size they had.  Once the kids grow into the clothes in the tote, keep it and as they grow out of them, reuse them for storing hand-me-downs.  I don't stock up unless it's AT LEAST 50% off, usually 75% to buy mass quantities.  I also try to buy utilitarian items in gender neutral colors.  For instance snowbibs - we live in a four season climate - by purchasing them in basic black I can pass them from my boys to the girls.  We have some winters they wear them several times a week and others they only wear them several times, but when you need them...
     Always buy quality over quantity.  The exception is items they'll only wear once or twice and summer flip flops. My kids have lost sooooo many flip flops.  I can usually find them at Target or Children's place for $2.50/pair and those hold up well.  We try to make sure our boys get the most out of their suits, so we have them wear them to church on Easter Sunday, to the free symphony concert, etc.  Fortunately, I have 2 boys so I do get to hand them down and they're still gently used enough to resell once the younger one has outgrown them.  I also don't put a lot of money into dress shoes or snow boots.  Our kids don't wear boots to school and since they just wear them a couple of hours at a time to play in the snow they aren't that hard on them.  However if you live in an area with really hard winters, you may want to get good ones.  Think about where and how you live and put the money into the items they'll use a lot - but try and find it on clearance.  I scored on a pair of shoes my daughter wanted.  Our local children's shoe store sells Keen and Merrill but always $15-$20 above MSRP.  She saw a pair of pink Merrill slip-ons at a whopping $70.  I passed despite her tantrum and we found the same ones on clearance 1 size bigger than her current size for $25 at another store out of town.  It was late April and they were suede, so they'd fit perfectly in the fall.  I had picked up winter fashion boots earlier that week for $10 a pair for each of the girls.  
     Once you're done with the hand me downs, sell what is still gently used such as special occasion clothing at a resale or consignment shop.  Sell the play clothes in a rummage sale and promptly donate what isn't sold.  Reason - kids clothes go through trends.  No matter how much you paid for it, if it's last year's trend, no one wants to buy it a garage sale, so hanging onto it and putting out every year at your annual sale, won't eventually sell it.  The exeption:  Infant clothes such as onsies, sleep-n-plays, gowns (with the elastic opening at the bottoms), socks and bibs.  Infant outfits usually sell well too.  Especially cute boys stuff.  It will outsell the girls stuff.  That's because everyone LOVES to buy for baby girls.  We received ten times the clothing for our daughter (3rd child) because my husband's coworkers couldn't resist buying frilly pink little outfits.  We didn't have to buy anything until she was almost a year old.  
     Find a system that works for you, whether it's plastic totes (I like the clear ones so you can see the contents) or copy paper boxes you bring home from the office, the key is to organize it so you can get to it when you need it and get rid of it when you're done.

Remember - it's only a bargain if you use it.  

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