I just finished the book, Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living, and I’ve become even more thoughtful (and possibly obsessed) with saving money. The concept is simple in nature, but difficult in practice. That said, between the book and the Frugalwoods blog, I’m renewing my committment to paring down our material items and focusing on saving for the big stuff, like college and retirement (another reason I live to give experiences as gifts and not things).
I’ll never reach Frugalwoods status, but I have been able to make changes in our spending habits, including the purchase of kids clothing and shoes. After my kids outgrew all of their pants in one week’s time a year ago – yes, they both outgrew everything in the same week – I always make sure to have cousin hand-me-downs around in different sizes.
My other go-to for kids shopping: kids consignment sales. It’s the combined thrill of bargain shopping and making a buck when you shop and sell through area consignment sales. Clean out the house of old toys, outgrown clothing and even furniture. Check. Earn some cash out of the deal. Check. Have clothes on hand for a fraction of the price. Check.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years from buying and selling:
- Talk to your friends: I was amazed at how many of my friends sold their kids outgrown items at consignment sales. If you can’t figure out how to price something, ask your friends or email one of the reps at the consignment group. There are many people willing to help you figure out a good price.
- Get organized: Separate your items. First get rid of any worn out junk. If you wouldn’t buy it, no one else will either, so don’t waste your time on it. After the initial sorting, separate by category, e.g., toys, shoes, clothes, baby items, etc, to make your online listing easier.
- Group similar items together to make it more interesting for buyers, and to make the online data entry faster. Similar toys, like puzzles, work well, as do items like hooded baby towels, bath sets, or your daughter’s favorite outgrown outfits.
- Time management: Allow yourself plenty of time to drop off your items. You might think you’ll breeze in and out, but it takes time to unload a vehicle full of things.
- Ask for unsold items back when the sale is over. You may or may not decide to keep any unsold items (they donate remaining items to charity), but I’ve held onto special items that didn’t sell at one sale, only to fly off the shelf at the next event.
- Use your consignment seller status to get in early and get the good deals. Most consignment sales offer special incentives like early shopping to consigners.
- Be realistic…will you use it? It might be the most adorable designer girl’s dress for an incredible price, but if your daughter lives in leggings and t-shirts (like mine), it’s a waste of money.
- Think ahead: If you find some great basics, like jeans, hoodies, etc. that are a little too big, they’ll get worn eventually. On the flip side, unless it’s a pair of flip flops, only buy shoes that fit now. Trying to guess what shoe size your child will be in 12 months is like a game of roulette – the odds are stacked against you.
- Buy ahead for great gifts: Some bigger ticket items, like bikes, wagons, tricycles, etc. are on hand at every kids consignment sale I’ve ever been too. Plus, we’ve often picked up unique toys and books that we wouldn’t have found anywhere else.
- Look for half-price: Save even more at the end of the sale. Most consignment sales finish off with a half-price day. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. If you have the patience (something I’ve developed over the years) it’s fun to see what kind of deals you can find.
Enjoy your new-found income and the fact that you won’t have to rush to the stores when your kids outgrow their clothes. Happy shopping…and selling!