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8 Quick Tips for Shopping for Children While Staying Within Budget
by Kim Green-Spangler
In today's economy everyone will be feeling the pinch, but parents are typically hardest hit. Due to the cost of everything rising from food, gas, heating/cooling costs, transportation, activities, etc. now is no time to sit idly by. Here are 8 tips for how to get the most bang for your buck when shopping for your kids:

1. Visit consignment shops!
Consignment shops are a fantastic way to save in today's economy. Since children grow so quickly, many a parent finds themselves with clothes that have received little or no wear after a recent growth spurt. Many consignment shops even request that items be name-brand only. This translates into new or nearly-new clothing at substantially reduced rates.

2. Shop at garage sales.
Even if clothes are a little worn, garage sales are great for finding play clothes, painting clothes, and/or toys/sporting equipment that a child may have outgrown. Children typically grow out of things before they're even broken in, so why not capitalize on it and stretch your dollar a little further. Like one garage sale dad said, "If I donate it, I'll get $0.30 to $0.35 on the dollar, but I can ask for $0.50 here and we're both happy!" So, get the paper and check off those items/sales that look interesting. It could be the best deal of your life.

3. Mom swaps are great!
If you can find a mom with a child(ren) of the same gender older than you and younger than you with similar tastes, then you've got it made! The mom with the child older than you hands down all items she thinks you can use for your child. Once your child has grown out of them, pass all stain-free clothing in good condition to the mom with children younger than you. With a chain like this, clothing should never pile up at a household because you know there is someone waiting for your discarded items. A true win-win!

4. Repurpose for some extra wear!
If you have a daughter, capris are a welcome fashion trend. How easy is it to repurpose a favorite pair of jeans into a cool pair of capris. In most cases you don't even have to hem them, simply cut them off and roll them up, or leave the edges raw. For boys cutting down pants into shorts are a good way to get more bang for your buck too! The same can be done for shirts. Did you know that many of the 80's styles are returning? Cut-up t-shirts and sweat shirts are being sold in stores for quite a pretty penny. Whether for school, athletics, or playwear, you can help your children learn to repurpose their clothing and perhaps start a trend of their own.

5. Buy for two seasons.
There's nothing wrong with getting clothing that can be worn for more than two seasons like fall to winter, or spring to summer. It's even better when items are purchased a little large and cuffed/hemmed to be used for both this year and next year. With fashions running a little on the small side, parents may find the need to size up anyway for comfort.

6. Shop out of season.
Some of the best deals to be had are when stores are trying to get rid of last year's items! Some things are a given. Children will need underwear, sneakers, sweats, pajamas, etc. Those things are frequently available for sale when the new season's shipments are coming in. Not only will it put you ahead of your shopping needs, if you have extra, these things make great gifts for friends and family members. Many stores will let frequent shoppers know when things will be going on sale, so don't be afraid to ask.

7. Hit the clearance rack.
Once you try it you'll know what a wonderful place it is to shop. You can get clothing for next to nothing if you're willing to wait things out. In stores like Wal-Mart and Target they often put clearance clothing out on designated days. If you learn the schedule, you'll get first pick for items that had just recently been selling for full price. If you check your favorite stores on a regular basis you'll never want to, or need to pay full-price again.

8. eBay of course!
eBay can save families tons of money. Items can be purchased in "lots" (multiple items for sale for a single amount), or individually. However, shoppers should do their research first. Sometimes items can be found direct from the manufacturer for less money than what it is being auctioned at, or shipping charges can make items less cost effective. eBay can be very useful especially for hard to find items, or items that are out of season. You can even have eBay notify you when an item you're looking for comes up for auction. How's that for a personal shopping experience!

These are just a few tips for how to save money when shopping for children. Clothes are a necessity, but every dollar saved means money that could go towards something fun for family-time instead.

Happy Saving!


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