I have been straddling a fine line lately with trying to keep on track with the budget and keep my pre-teen looking as stylish as all of her friends. Little known fact about girls this age. They travel in packs and it is very, very rare to get any alone time with yours. You may have to resort to looking at old pictures to remember which one of the gaggle of girls at your house is the one you gave birth to. Hint- yours is the one that asks you for money and says you embarrass her. Her most recent decree is that she is not a “girly-girl” and refuses to wear pink or flowers or butterflies. It wouldn’t matter if Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato collaborated to design the outfit and Justin Bieber personally delivered it, if there is the hint of pink or ruffles or flowers it would never see the light of day. So I am learning. I do have a few tricks to share about how I try to keep the kids looking good without breaking the bank.
Save Where You Can- Each time the weather changes I usually spend some money on a nice set of pj’s for each of the kids. It is a HUGE priority to me that my daughter not show up for sleepovers in holey, mis-matched sleepwear. And I want The Boy to look presentable when we have company and he gets in bed while they are still here. Yeah, I know, silly, but it makes me feel good when they look good. For my daughter I will usually get a set from Justice when the 40% off sale is on (like right now!!!). I find Carter’s pajamas at Kohl’s. Right now they have the 3 piece sets for about $8 on clearance. I recently bought three, 3 piece sets (1 top, 2 bottoms) and a 5 pack of Hanes t shirts at Target. Combined this gives me pajamas for eight nights. Since I have the kids bathe before bed, I have them wear their pajamas two nights. This alone saves me from doing at least one load of laundry a week. For my son, I bought all his pajamas in the same color family so I could mix and match. Let me rephrase that. I will purposely seek out a matched set and have in my mind at all times what was bought to go with what. My husband on the other hand will dress The Boy in whatever he can reach from the changing table. So I have to make it easy…
If you find yourself in the same power stuggle over dressing consider one of those hanging organziers in the closet that you can put matched sets into. Or wrap a rubberband around the hangers so the other parties will know what goes together.
While on the subject of apparel no one else sees, I sometimes buy the holiday pajamas as they are marked down. Yes, my kids wear Christmas and Halloween pajamas all year round but I save a ton of money!
Buy ahead principle- This has only failed me a few times. I bought the prettiest flowered summer dress at Macy’s for the girl last year not knowing that the new style was emerging. However all the socks, underwear and T shirts have worked out just fine. Speaking of socks, I gave up paying $10 for the pair that matches the outfit and have gone to mostly plain white, all the same socks. It saves me having fits on laundry day trying to match them all up. If one gets a hole I can easily toss it and match it with another. Target has a coupon out right now for $1 off Hanes. I found a 3 pack of boy’s underpants for $1.48 before coupon. No, my boy isn’t anywhere near needing these but they are stashed away for when he does. I am always checking the end caps for opened packages that are marked down. Since underwear and socks aren’t something that the rest of the world sees this is a good place to save money and not buy the $10 a pair underwear from Gymboree.
Buy Good Quality on sale and then sell to consignment stores. I used to search the clearance racks at Target and Walmart for cheap kids clothes and believe me, you could tell. With very rare exception this stuff is there because no one else would have it. I discovered one day that Gap had a wonderful markdown area and I wouldn’t be paying very much more. They also have an outlet if you can get there. The outlets in Castle Rock have a Gap, Children’s Place and Gymboree. Gap had a deal recently where you would buy a pair of jeans ($30) and get a pair for $10. Then when you bought 4 pairs you got another free. So 5 pairs of kids jeans for about $80. UPDATE- take advantage of the Gap Deal on Groupon today www.groupon.com and get 5 pairs for as low as $55. You could spend the same at Walmart but are getting much better quality. And you can get A LOT for these jeans when your kids outgrown them.
Join Clubs and use member discounts- Gymboree, Toy’s R Us, Gap & Children’s Place all have clubs and some reward you for your purchases or give special discounts. Gymboree for example has a 20% off coupon running right now plus “Gym Bucks” that you earn $25 for spending $50. So basically everything in store becomes at least half off. Children’s Place will give you 20% off your entire purchase during your child’s birthday month. You can even use that on the $2.99 clearance they have on now to get next summers clothes really, really cheap. Sears often offers coupons and they have a replacement program in case the item wears out before the kid outgrows it. JCP sometimes mails out $10/$10 and $10/$50 coupons whenyou join the mailing list. And don’t even get me started on Kohl’s. They let you stack coupons which is amazing. Last week I used Kohl’s cash and a $10/$20 from the paper to get $25 worth of merchandise for FREE.
A Few Key Pieces- I found a gorgeous coat at Gap last year for about $22. It was one with an outer shell and a fleece liner so two jackets in one. If I were going to spend a fortune this is where I would spend it, that and good shoes. Living in Colorado I have learned the importance of good quality, comfortable winter gear. The great thing about this coat is that The Girl looked great everywhere she went and was happy to wear it since it was “cool”. I did not have any instances of her “forgetting” this coat at a friends house in order to get a replacement.
So that’s how we save around here. How do you do it at your house?