Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Confessions of a Frugal Shopoholic

The moment the sonogram technician proclaimed, "It's a Girl!" (and my husband pumped his fist in the air), I instantly began planning her wardrobe. Although putting little outfits on Isaac had been sweet, one can never get terribly excited about a wardrobe of various polo shirts and jean combinations (with the exception of this shirt).

As I shopped in my head (the cheapest way to shop) upon hearing the news a baby girl was to be joining our family, I had visions of a closet filled with smocked dresses, personalized jumpers, and rows and rows of bows.

Then I did some real shopping and quickly realized that should my daughter's closet be so fortunate as to hold such beauties, then I was going to need to get a paper route or start mowing lawns to afford such a wardrobe.

Being the thrifty person that I can be when prompted, I slowly developed a shopping strategy:

1. I have a price limit of what I will or will not pay for items.

For example, I never spend over $30 on a dress or outfit for Evelyn. I never spend over $12 on things like pants, jeans, or leggings. I like to keep shirts under the $10 price (doesn't always happen). Knowing how much I will spend before I walk through the doors of a store prevent me from going a bit crazy when clothing my kids.

2. I shop consignment stores and sales frequently.

If you only have boys, then consignment stores/sales likely will not do you any good. I have found boy's stuff is pretty worn once you get out of the baby sizes. However, such stores can be an excellent place to find new or barely used girls' clothing (especially dresses) for a good price. Most of these places only sell clothing that is no more than 2-3 years old, which means your child will look just like everyone else (but for a better price).

Consignment stores are EXCELLENT places to purchase new hair bows. The prices are tolerable but the selection almost makes me weep with joy. Because I could possibly go just a tad crazy with the hair bows, I attempt to buy styles that can go with several outfits. Therefore the $4 I just plunked down for some ribbon and a cheap clip does not seem so drastic. (See more about how to keep hair bows in little ones hair at the bottom of this post)

3. I am brand-specific.

There are certain brands of clothes I buy because I know they are durable. Also, if you have shopped the girls section lately at discount stores you might have noticed they are modeling little one's clothing after things someone's teenager might wear. That look is not for our house. In order to be brand-specific, I stay informed about store's clearance sales via email so I can be ready when clothes prices are being slashed.

4. I buy clothes a season (or two) ahead.

I buy clothes (when on super-sale) for the next season for each child. My kids run relatively true to size, so I can predict what size they will be wearing in upcoming seasons. Currently Evelyn has a size 3T Strausburg silk green dress just waiting for her in her was super cheap and purchased over a year ago. However, I am dying to put it on her and wonder if the day will ever actually arrive when she can sport this frock.

I have also been known to buy shoes in advance. If one should look back at some of our older pictures, it might appear as if Isaac wore the same shoes for over a year. Actually one time we were shopping and found some New Balance tennis shoes greatly discounted. I purchased all three pairs the store had (they were in different sizes obviously). When Isaac outgrew one pair, I had another waiting eagerly in his closet. I was a tad sad the day that we finally had to retire that last pair of tennis shoes.

5. EBay is my friend.

EBay is where I get the majority of Evelyn's smocked dresses. When I first realized that smocked bishop dress in stores usually start at $70, I about cried. Then I hopped on EBay and found dresses galore for reasonable prices (unless paired against a crazy bidder). I have a specific store with whom I do my smocked dress bidding and never bid higher than my price limit. Because I do not want this store name linked to my blog, I will refrain from saying it. However, email me (link on left) and I will share it if you are interested.

6.I remind myself that it does not really matter at all.
In the end, I remind myself that the majority of the world does not live in the materialistic bubble that middle-class America finds themselves entwined inside with on a consistent basis. There are too many mothers in this world worried about how they are going to feed their children that day for me to become too concerned about how cute my babies look. I believe presenting a respectable appearance (clean face and clothes, combed hair) is important, but I know whether or not my kids were cute as little dolls on a particular day does not matter at all.

What are your tips for clothing children? Anyone out there crafty enough to actually sew your own clothes?


Finally, here is a hair bow tip:

I was beyond frustrated with bows slipping out of E.'s fine, straight hair about five minutes after securing them on her head. I had read that one could glue textured shelf liner to the actual clip to keep slippage from occurring, but I just didn't feel like cutting out tiny pieces of rubber and attempting to glue it to a small silver clip (and would likely just get hot glue strings all over the bow). Then I discovered if you attached several of the tiny baby rubber bands to the clip, the bow won't slip. Hallelujah!
Here is Miss E. hosting a tea party with her newest baby

***All the outfits on Evelyn in these photos were purchased at a consignment sale***


Heather said...

Thanks for all the tips! I used to use left-over orthodontist rubber bands on my clips to keep them in place. That, or hot glue. Both worked very well!

TuTu's Bliss said...

Some of the handmade designers are so worried about the new acts going into place they are selling their entire stock and closing shop. Sad, but true. You can find them on ebay (handmade section) and Etsy. Etsy also has an alchemy what you want made and sellers will fight for the right to make it for you. Hugs, Jen

Allison said...

I'm pretty frugal when it comes to shopping for my kids too. Very rarely do I ever pay full price for anything. It has to be a 'must have NOW' type of outfit, or if I am shopping for a special occasion like Easter or a wedding...ect.

I am the same as you. I buy their clothes a year in advance. Hudson has about 12 pairs of shorts (we do live in San Antonio and we wear shorts almost year round) that we paid no more than 10 dollars for..some maybe even 5. And they are the super cute gap and polo shorts that are sooo adorable. I love dressing him in Polo shirts...I have almost every color for the spring and summer. Again we paid nothing because I got them when they were like 75% off. I love a good steal!!

I'd love to know who u shop with on Ebay. Hopefully we wouldn't get into any bidding wars. HA!!

Thanks for all your tips! I need to be better at checking out consignment sales...especially for Harper's dresses!

Amy said...

I, too, shop clearance and consignment for my kids. The price has to be 70% off or better, but I will on the rare occasion splurge when its 50% off -- if I can't live without it. I generally have a "if-it's-over-ten-dollars-think-about-it" rule.

I don't like to buy mock-adult/tramp clothes for my kiddos either so I am rather selective, but I have managed to find great deals at Target and JCPenney. Actually JCP's winter formal dresses are 70% off now, making them less than $20.

My last shopping trip was this week and I spent $65 and got 18 items of clothes. My best deal was a $46 dress for $5.98!

Can you tell I am excited about this post topic;-) Your children are always dressed to the nines and so beautiful!

GPaty said...

Amen Sister about the "not feeling the need to dress my toddler the same as the outfit on the last episode of Hannah Montana"......I get so frustrated that so many of children's clothing have to have "characters" on them, whether it's Disney Princesses, a random cartoon character, or the beloved Hannah Montana (in which I still cannot figure out how my children even know she exists because we have NEVER watched that show at this kills me) It's nice to know that when my girls show up at ACU someday, they won't be the only ones there that haven't been allowed to wear a skirt that is shorter than butt-length.
God Bless America....

KrustyTheCat said...

Great ideas!!! I shop at Gymboree almost exclusively and only shop sales. Just today I found some shirts for 3.99!!!

Jennifer said...

I pretty much do the same things you do. I'm a master at the Gymboree/Gymbuck thing so most of our clothes are from there but I never buy full price and usually by the time it's all said and done, I pay just a little over what I'd pay at Target but with better quality - especially since I have 2 boys in the same season so durability is huge considering C gets the hand-me-downs (with exception of a few new things bought just for him!)

Phillips Family said...

Such good thoughts everybody!

First, whoever decided to make it a law that children's items cannot be resold must live on a very large income. This person is not my friend. Fortunately consignment stores are not going to be affected.

Also...Gymbucks (gymboree coupons) go in effect today! Don't forget to use them if you have them!

Jordan said...

It's good to know the world is full of people who don't like to pay too much for children's clothes! I haven't had any luck on finding the inexpensive smocked clothing on ebay because it usually gets out of my price range before the bidding is through. I'm inspired to try again, though! My children don't stay true to size so well so I can't buy too much in advance, but I, too, have a Strausburg dress hanging in Phoebe's closet that I bought for $12. I was hoping maybe this spring, but it doesn't look good.

Happy Hunting!