When you decided to have children, you have a slight idea of the expense. In your head you immediately think of college fund, food, diapers, cars, medical care, and clothing. We fool ourselves into thinking that it will be easier than it actually is. As the parent of seven children, I am an unofficial expert in raising children on a strict budget.
Our gang is lucky they have clothing, now that we are feeding five teenagers and the strays they bring home after school each day. Their college funds were taken care of before birth. Classic cars were bought as junk and the gear heads in our tight knit group fixed them up over the years. We buy food in bulk making it cheaper to feed our family of nine than a family of four. Medical care is taken care of by an employer. Leaving only clothing to kill any dream of retirement in our future. Selfishly, I quickly learned how to dress our family in quality, stylish, and trendy fashions. I want to retire someday. So, how do you get your moneys worth on quality children's clothing?
Educate yourself on brands and decide what you need. If you plan on having more than one child,you need to buy items that are durable, classic styled, and neutral in color for any sex. Your plan is to only have one child or the desire to pass clothing on to others is nil, purchase cheap and trendy togs.
Age two to five are the years of damage. Grass, food, crayon, markers, mud, and the ever popular sticker glue will be a few of the stains that ruin any and all clothing purchased for your child. The goal should be to buy a great deal of apparel that's destiny is to be used as garage rags in later years. It does not matter if you spend one dollar or a hundred dollars on an item, blood does not come out.
Five years of age to eleven are the school years. It is a fine line between cool, classic, trendy, preppy, geeky, and tragic in the local school yard fashion show. Classic brands that never go out of style are Levi, Polo, and Hanes. Wrangler, Faded Glory, and Dockers will get your kid beat up by the school bully faster than horn rimmed glasses. Trendy, yet poorly made brands are The Limited, Aeropostle, and Hollister.
The teenage years should be spent with you as the keeper of the funds and limits. Do not buy clothing for your child in hopes that they will wear it. They will not. I repeat, they will not wear any clothing you purchase for them without their prior knowledge. Set rules to what is acceptable, a budget, and do not waiver. Clothing will be the least of your worries at this age.
Now that you are aware of the brands, where do you find them at a reasonable price? Thrift stores are a fun and exciting way to add great clothing, shoes, hats, gloves, scarves, hair accessories, coats, sport pants, back packs, purses, swim suits, dance wear, and costumes to the every changing needs of your child. A great many thrift stores are for non-profit organizations, and the money you spend has an added benefit of helping their cause.
A local newspaper will head you in the right direction of inexpensive clothing on a sunny weekend. Circle all the garage sales in your area and put them in order of the closest to the furthest from your home. A savvy shopper will not spend a fortune in gas to rummage through other's cast offs. Do not be afraid to ask if they will take less than the item is marked. If you do not make the garage sale circuit early in the morning, most people will sell their items for next to nothing in the late afternoon. They do not want to pack it all up. Be patient and take the time to go through all the stacks of clothing. It is not a retail situation and some do not have the best organizational ways of selling their items. If it is too overwhelming for you to tackle by yourself, invite friends to car pool with you. The more the merrier.
Mark your calendar for the yearly clearance sales at department stores. Larger retailers place their summer apparel on sale the first weekend in July. Upscale children specialty boutiques place summer wear at fifty percent off on the first weekend in August. This is the same date that Macys, Kohls, Dillards , J.C. Pennys, and Sears reduces prices to seventy five percent off. Check the local paper for additional coupons and percentage off rebates the Sunday before the sale.
Networking can be a huge asset to your children's wardrobe. Let the parents of those at the ball field, dance class, P.T.A., scout meeting, work, etc. know the sizes of your children. Return the favor with the clothing that your precious little one has outgrown. Hand me downs can be a great way to fill your closets.
Searching the Internet can bring a bounty of inexpensive garments your way. Sign up for the free sale emails from many retailers. Keep your eyes peeled for super lot buys on Ebay. Purchasing a large lot will save you on postage. Why pay ten dollars in shipping for one item, when you can get twenty different items for the same shipping cost. Most online stores also have free shipping specials. Look for coupon codes, percentage off codes, free shipping codes, and the wonderful buy one get one codes before finalizing your order.
A true believer that underwear, socks, and tights should always be bought new, it can be expensive. Outlet malls have all three items on clearance the day after Thanksgiving each year. The Children's Place has tights for a mere twenty-five cents a pair. Polo, Tommy, Gap, and The Limited generally have the underwear and socks at 50 to 75 percent off on Black Friday at the outlet malls.
Getting your money's worth on children's clothing is a breeze with a little research and elbow grease. The money you save over the years will help pay for all the expenses that you forgot to factor in, when you decided to have a child. The broken windows, speeding tickets, higher insurance, braces, camps, vacations, clubs, sports, dating, and gaming devices are just a few of those additional cost. Quality clothing may not seem like a high priority. However, one day you will receive a call from the principal of your angel's school. On the drive over, you will not have to worry, if he has a hole in his T-shirt, tears in his pants, or shoes that match. Instead you can concentrate completely on all the ways you are going to kill him.
By Crystal Wolfe from Branson
Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml
Thanks for all your helpful advice, especially about kids not wearing anything you buy them without their prior approval when they enter adolescence. My kids are 8 & 6 and I've given up buying clothes without them there, because they usually refuse to wear it. Instead, I take them with me and they are told --we only buy if its on sale, especially at 70% off.
This is a great post! I love what you said about blood not coming out. If you have boys, or a really rowdy girl, you find that out pretty fast! My kids do not know what clothing looks like without a clearance tag on it! LOL
Blood does come out 100% of the time with hydrogen peroxide. Try it, it's great!
Wow. Kids must be more brand conscious where you live. Faded Glory, Wrangler and Dockers fare just fine here.