I’m lucky (I realized once I got past the initial concern) in the sense that I have one of those toddlers that just doesn’t grow. I mean, yeah, she grows, and if you’ve ever met her or followed my twitter feed, there’s no concern about whether she’s happy, energetic or otherwise healthy. In other words, the kid is thriving. But she doesn’t grown much, and it’s completely predictable when she does.
I admit that I’ve saved a butt-load of money when compared to other parents for two main reasons: I never have to run out to buy something because she magically shot up an inch, and pretty much every friend she’s ever had has lapped her in size - even one of her besties, almost two years younger, is presently sharing the same sizes as her. Know what that means? Hand-me-downs. More than I can store.
But, I’m a woman who likes to shop, who likes to be prepared, and hey, it’s nice to buy something shiny and new, even with a box of gently-useds at home. Luckily, I’m talented - size (of income) really doesn’t totally matter in this case - and that’s the third reason I save moolah. To save your own butt-load of bread, try this:
Know your child’s growth patterns.
Every kid has some level of predictability when it comes to growth, whether they’re following in one of their parents or a sibling’s patterns, or start eating everything not nailed down three weeks before jumping a size. Seeing it coming is half the battle; not running to the store at the last minute and having to suck up full-prices is the other.
Shop a size (or two) ahead, when the sales are good.
Yes, you can buy stuff ahead of time and store it. Your child may surpass the size - this may be of concern if you live in a city with particularly extreme weather variations - but odds are, if your preschooler’s in a 5T in the spring and you buy a 6T dress for the summer, she’ll get to wear it. If it gets too cold before she grows into it and it won’t fit her when the season warms? There’s such a thing as layering, try it.
Don’t sacrifice dollars for names.
You know how annoying it was that your parents wouldn’t drop the $200 on a pair of jeans for you? Become your parents. Really. See also: teach them to save allowances and see if they’re willing to drop the $200.
Discount brand-name stores are your BFF.
When you can walk into a store that doesn’t look too shiny on the outside but has every major label on the inside for crazy-low prices, you’ve found kid-shopping mecca. More so if you’re the parent to teens. Labels matter in the hierarchy of teen popularity - it sucks, but it’s true - so if you don’t want to teach them the hard road to self-acceptance over peer-love, go discount for the same brands.
Emails from the Gap? Sign up for them.
The Gap is my go-to. Two reasons: they keep emailing me about sales - really nice sales! with discount codes! - and their service is The. Bomb. Don’t like a fit? Send it back. Went on sale a day after you shopped? Call them up! Also notable: you can order from all three of their company stores from within the same basket: buying the painter/mud-roller-inner practically disposables from Old Navy, the tween just enough edge from the Gap and Mama, a slammin’ pair of trouser pants from Banana Republic.
In fact, sign up for emails from any clothing store that routinely offers clothing that fits your child’s lifestyle and your bank account.
The Gap’s not the only brand that’s clued into email marketing. If you seek them, the sales will come.
Kids - especially younger ones - don’t need the perfect fit. They need clothes that keep them warm, dry and express their personality.
I’ve known parents who are frequently embarrassed of the dip in the back of their diapered child’s jeans. Mom? Jeans only fit models perfectly, and that’s because they’re pinned in the back, where you can’t see them. Too long stuff can be rolled up. Too loose pants can be belted, or impromptu adjustable-waists created inside using elastic, buttons and about seven minutes of your time. Too big dresses will be a safety issue only if they’re long, otherwise, go forth - but remain aware of potential nip-slips. Just sayin’.
Let your child shop with you.
You need to know what they like, and what sizes, colors and brands. When you do, you can shop when they’re not around to turn up their noses at the sale prices. I’m not suggesting that you lie, so much as choose to avoid a battle (see: opinionated teenage girls). Also? Short toddlers will find the sale stuff on clothing racks because displays’ eye-levels contain different messages. Where you see aims to impress you with selection; where the three-and-unders are spying is where the sale stuff goes to live.
Join the club once you know what things are worth.
Costco, Gap Sprize, American Eagle… practically everyone’s got some sort of points/money back/percentage off schtick, if you just *fill in the blank*. At some stores, it’s completely worth it to sign up and *fill in the blank*.
Take the hand-me-downs and pass them along, too.
Don’t turn down something someone wants to pass on to your child - even if they won’t wear it - unless they’ve got someone else to offer it to, too. For one thing: it sets up the idea in their mind that they can clean house and because of this, you’ll frequently be the recipient of a lot of practically-new stuff simply because you become a known shopping-slash-minimalism-catalyst. It also puts more give-aways into your hands, to pay it forward. For some reason, clothing karma really does seem to exist. Build yours up and it will repay you, many times over.
Too elementary? Here’s an ultimate bonus tip: each toilet-trained kid only needs the equivalent of a load of laundry to live in. Seriously. More than that and they’re cycling through the same stuff, not using half of their wardrobe, and your mountain of washing will build exponentially. Keep it to the essentials and in the quantities they really go through in about a week, and replace worn or outgrown stuff as necessary. Period.
Your turn. What do you do to save money on kids’ clothes? Did I miss anything I should start doing ASAP? I think I feel a growth spurt coming on.
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