Parents everywhere struggle with the idea that their kids are truly expensive. Even with all the newspapers, studies, magazines and TV shows that say that it takes a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child these days, it’s still hard to wrap you head around that.
Now, as a frugalite, that reality becomes even more fuzzy, since we know where and when to shop to get our kids needed items for cheap. We also know what items our kids just don’t need and can steer clear from them. But what about those things that we just absolutely have to get them? For example, clothes are right at the top of that list and can be so expensive, especially with constantly growing kids. Around the end of 2010, I started to have such an issue with Sonny Boy’s wardrobe. No lie, he literally grew out of each new set of pants every month. I was so proud of the stockpile of clothes I had for him but as I started to see it dwindle, I panicked a bit. I had taken advantage of the big coupons that Old Navy had given out on their Old Navy Weekly site throughout the year but that bevy of clothes were quickly leaving Sonny’s drawers. Even his socks were getting too small!
I had been to a few consignment and thrift stores before the Duchess came to stock up on clothes and items for her, but it seemed like I couldn’t find the same deals on clothes for Sonny. That is, until a friend told me about Kid to Kid. It’s a cool franchise of stores around the country that not only have previously used clothing items, but has books, toys and even new items to purchase. Now, here’s my favorite part: they’ll buy your clothes from you and you can use that credit towards stuff in their store. This is nothing new; pretty much all consignment shops do this but for some reason, Kid to Kid had better….stuff. Items were of great quality, nothing looked dingy or “used” and it was neat in there! Totally neat! No disrespect to thrift stores, but the ones around me are, well, gross. Sad lighting, unorganized racks and just not a great place to shop. I think the main reason I ventured to Kid to Kid(it’s about 30 minutes away from me) is that they do buy back your items and give a good price for them. Since I had all of those clothes that Sonny grew out of (some that were never even worn!) I didn’t just want to “give” them away. They were hardly used or new and I needed some type of return. They did a good job of accomplishing that.
But, I didn’t just stop at Kid to Kid. Since it is so far, I didn’t want to drive all that way every time I had clothes to get rid of, or clothes that I needed to buy. Since we now have 2 kiddos racking up the clothes, I had to think of another option. I did some online research and found “virtual” consignment shops. This just blew my mind. “Shops” where you could trade kids clothes with other parents and pay a small fee and shipping. A big ol’ box full of clothes for shipping. Huh? What? Is this reality? So far, my favorite is OutGrowingIn. Sign up was free, they had a low shipping rate and the clothes were awesome. If I found out that Sonny had outgrown another 3 pairs of pants, I could get them washed, packed up, shipped to whoever and then look for replacements within a day.
There are a few things I have learned while shopping for kids clothes in cosignment/online swap stores:
1. Don’t get distracted by the pretty things. During my first two times at Kid to Kid, I got distracted by the insane deals on new items. I knew what I had come into the store to get but they got me with the “pretty things.” I had a list and budget and they ruined it. If it’s not in your brain to purchase that day, keep it on the back burner. Now, with that said…
2. If there is one, re-arrange your budget. Those pretty new things may have distracted me, but when I saw something that we may not have needed right then and there, but I knew we would down the road, I had to rearrange the budget for the day. Cute little headbands? Another book for Sonny Boy? Cool to get, but unnecessary. 2 Winter coats that can be used next year that are on clearance for 1.00? Well, that’s something we need.
3. Clothing swaps are just that; don’t be disappointed. A box of clothes is awesome but you shouldn’t expect every piece of clothing to be something you will use. For the most part, you do get boxes of items that you will take advantage of, but there could be that one time you don’t and it may disappoint you. If you expect the worst and hope for the best, you’ll always have a good swap experience.
4. Buy from one, sell to the other. This is something that I’ve come to love. Because I buy from Kid to Kid and have an account there, for the most part, they won’t buy back items I got from their store. Also, there are times when they actually don’t want a few of the items I’m trying to sell off. This is where the online swaps come in. I can place those perfectly good items in a box and swap them since they weren’t sold to Kid to Kid. But, I can also switch it around. If I get great items in the boxes that the kids wear and then quickly outgrow, I can put them in the Kid to Kid bin in my closet. This tip had exponentially decreased our kids clothing bill.
How do you all with kids save money on your clothing bill? Do you consignment or thrift shop?