Memorial Day Sales

What are your plans for Memorial Day? Barbecues? Swimming? How about shopping? If shopping isn’t in your plans, you may want to reconsider. This is a great weekend to shop for your baby’s clothes. Why?

One, many stores are having Memorial Day sales so their inventory will already be marked down.

Two, during this transition between spring and summer, you’re likely to find a lot of spring clothes on sale. Why would you want to buy spring clothes at the beginning of the summer? Because you will be buying clothes for next spring. One of the great things about having babies and toddlers is that you can safely predict their clothing size for the following year.

While lots of stores will be having great Memorial Day sales and clearance sales, here are some of the ones we’ve heard about:

The Children’s Place — Spring clearance and Memorial Day sales plus free shipping on all online purchases. For extra savings, use coupon code W7D2011 to save 15%.

Old Navy — Major spring clearance and Memorial Day sales. Be sure to grab the in store coupon on Old Navy’s Facebook page for extra savings. Also, there is an online coupon code floating around but it may not work for baby clothes. If you want to try, the code is ONMELON.

Gap — Major spring clearance and Memorial Day sales plus save an extra 25% online with coupon code NEW.

Carter’s — Memorial Day savings up to 60% plus an extra 40% off clearance. For additional savings use coupon code LETSPLAY to save 25% on orders of $40 or more.

Osh Kosh —  50% off everything Memorial Day sale plus an extra 40% off clearance. For additional savings use coupon code LETSPLAY to save 25% on orders of $40 or more.

Gymboree — $12.99 and under Memorial Day sale–everything is $12.99 or under!

Have fun shopping!

Free Baby Clothes Revisited

In general, I think frugal parents fall into one of two categories: there are those who simply cannot afford to live lavishly (many single income families fall into this category) and there are those who are choosing to save money for other things (college, investments, retirement, etc.). Whatever your reason, frugality is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

For some, purchasing baby clothes off the discount rack at the children’s boutique is a frugal endeavor. For others, buying baby clothes at thrift shops and consignment sales is how they save money.

The truly frugal, though, may want to explore ways to get their baby’s clothing absolutely free. I occasionally receive an email on this topic so I thought I would revisit it. I have posted this information before but I think it bears repeating. Here are five easy ways to get clothing for nothing.

  1. Register for clothing. Most people remember to register for car seats and swings and even bottles, but surprisingly, a lot of people forget to put clothing on their baby registry. Also, be sure to register for more than just newborn and 0-3 month sizes. Be careful, though, to consider the seasons – don’t register for sundresses in a size 9 months if your baby will be nine months old in the dead of winter.
  2. Leave tags on clothes and keep receipts. Instead of immediately washing your baby’s new clothes and arranging them neatly in his closet, leave the tags on and hang onto the receipts. Why? Because you may have an abundance of one size and be able to exchange a few items for a bigger size. Likewise, your baby could skip the newborn size entirely (both of my babies did) so you could return all of your newborn clothing for bigger sizes.
  3. Join The Baby Chain. I can’t rave enough about this site. Its motto is “give what you can and get what you need” which pretty much sums up its purpose. When you join (for free), you can donate baby and maternity items to people who need them and you can request the items you need – including clothing. It is a terrific service that everyone should join.
  4. Join Freecycle. Freecycle is a network of local groups that works similarly to The Baby Chain. Members can offer up things they no longer need and request things that they do. While it is not exclusive to baby items, plenty of baby stuff changes hands on Freecycle.
  5. Resell your baby clothes. Children’s resale shops are becoming quite popular all over the United States. There are a number of national chains of stores including Once Upon a Child, Children’s Orchard, and Kid to Kid, as well as many independent stores. Parents can bring in their gently used baby and children’s clothing for cash or store credit. In many cases, the store credit will be greater than the cash amount. If you accept store credit, you can go ahead and shop right there for more clothes for your baby – for free!

Half Off at Carter’s

Guess what? Carter’s is having a sale through Sunday and EVERYTHING is 50% off! You can shop online or in stores and no coupon is required! Of course, we’re too frugal around here to be satisfied with just 50%. So I did a little searching and found some extra savings.

If you shop online, you can use the coupon code: NEWBORN to save an additional 20% off an order of $50 or more.

If you shop in stores, you can print this coupon and save an additional 20% off an order of $40 or more!

I love Carter’s, especially for their pajamas. They have sizes all the way up to children’s size 7 so you can outfit your babies, toddlers, and young children from this sale. This would also be a good time to pick up a few baby shower gifts.

If you get some amazing deals from this sale, please tell us about them by leaving a comment. I love savings success stories!

Have You Tried Thred-Up?

My readers know that I love a bargain on baby clothes and I use a number of strategies to get the best deals possible. Not too long ago, I was introduced to yet another money-saving strategy.

Have you heard of ThredUp? It is a website that allows users to buy and swap boxes of gently used baby and children’s clothing. If you want to buy a box, the box itself is $5 and the shipping is $10.95 for a grand total of $15.95. Depending upon how many items are in the box, this could be a really great deal. If there are even five items in the box, you’re getting them for about $3 a piece, shipped. Not too shabby.

thredUP_kids clothing swap_free membership

Not too long ago, Deal Pulp was offering a $15.95 credit to ThredUp for only $6. I got a $5 sign up bonus with Deal Pulp which meant I got the ThredUp deal for only $1! I haven’t used my ThredUp credit yet because I have been waiting for the perfect box to show up in the listings. I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for but I’ll know it when I see it. :-)

In addition to clothing, ThredUp boxes may also contain age specific toys, shoes, and outerwear.

If you have tried ThredUp, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Want Something for Nothing? Try a Baby Swap

No, this blog post isn’t about swapping your baby for another (although at 3:00 a.m., the idea might sound good for a moment)! Instead, I’m talking about get-togethers in which baby items are swapped with other moms. This is a great way to update your baby’s wardrobe, acquire some new age-appropriate toys, or snag some baby gear–all for free.

The principles behind it are simple. One, babies don’t wear their clothes long enough to wear them out. Two, babies outgrow toys and gear while there is still a lot of life left in them. It also doesn’t hurt that babies and children seem to be mesmerized by other people’s toys.

While the theory is simple, however, the execution takes some planning and organization. Here are some easy steps to get you started.

  • Create a guest list. Think of all the moms (or dads) you know with babies and toddlers. Ideally, these parents will collectively have children ranging from newborn on up to two or three years of age. The greater the variety, the more likely it is that there will be items for everyone.
  • Decide on a location and a date for the swap. If you are inviting 10 or fewer moms, you can probably host it in your own home. If you are inviting a much larger crowd, you might need to come up with a more spacious location for the event.
  • Invite guests to the swap. A written invitation is best because you can outline exactly how the event will work and what each participant should bring. Here’s an example:

You are invited to a baby swap!

Bring your gently-used baby clothes, toys, and baby gear and swap them for nearly-new things you need. All items should be in excellent condition and meet current safety standards. Clothes should range from newborn to size 2T and all toys and gear should be appropriate for a child who is two or under. 

Refreshments will be served and your children are welcome to attend. 

Hostess Name
Date/Time
Address
Phone Number
RSVP

  • Plan a “menu.” Food is completely optional at a swap but it does give moms a chance to mingle and eat while you set up the items (see below). If you do decide to serve refreshments, keep them light and simple to make things easier (and cheaper) for yourself.
  • Organize the items. On the day of the swap, plan to spend a few minutes (more if it’s a large swap) organizing the items. Designate an area for each type of item (clothes, shoes, toys, or gear). Then when possible, separate the items by age or size. Don’t hesitate to recruit help for this part of the process.
  • Let the swapping begin. Invite the moms to begin browsing and choosing items they would like. You might suggest that they bear in mind how many items they brought as a guideline for how many items to take. But don’t feel like you need to police the other moms. This should be a fun and casual event for everyone.
  • Close up “shop.” When everyone has picked the items that they want, it will be time to dispose of remaining items. The owners of each item might decide to take their items home but you might want to encourage them to leave them to be donated to Goodwill or other charity. Then you can box up all remaining items and drop them off at your convenience.

You will know your swap has been a success if everyone leaves with something they can use. The best part about it is that it won’t have cost them a cent. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself being invited to another swap soon. These swaps tend to catch on quickly because after all, who doesn’t love getting something for nothing?

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik, Creative Commons License

Pregnant? Start Buying Now

My husband was putting something away in our storage closet the other day and he said, “Honey, do you know we have diapers in here?” The reason this seemed odd to him is because we are currently potty training our youngest. I think he thought I had bought them months (or even years) ago and had simply forgotten about them.

Silly man. He should know me well enough by now to realize that I am stockpiling for our future baby(ies). No, we are not pregnant but we plan to have at least one more baby in the relatively near future. So if I can get diapers dirt cheap now, why would I wait? Here’s an example:

A couple of months ago, I found a case of Huggies diapers (144 count in a size 3) on the clearance rack of my local Kroger. They were marked down to $7.99. Why? Because the box was pretty beat up. The diapers inside were still wrapped in plastic and seemed unscathed by the damage done to the box. To make the deal even sweeter, I had a coupon for $3.00 off Huggies bringing my grand total to $4.99 for a case of 144 diapers. How could I pass that up?

Then there are the wipes. Periodically, Huggies and Pampers will each put out coupons for $2.00 off a box of wipes. At Walmart, those wipes can usually be purchased for right around $2.00 making them FREE! I won’t stock up on wipes until I am pregnant because wipes will eventually dry out or even get moldy (yuck!). But if you already are pregnant, this is a great item to stock up on.

Here is a list of items that are great for stockpiling, even before your baby is born!

  • Diapers — Buy them when you find great deals on them, particularly in a size 2, 3, or 4 (people will probably give you a lot of size 1 diapers when your baby is born). Also, be sure to request diaper samples and add them to the stockpile.
  • Formula — If you plan to formula feed or even just supplement with formula, now is the time to start looking for deals. Recently, Ready-to-Feed Similac was going for less than a dollar because of a high dollar coupon put out by the manufacturer. That is too good to pass up, just watch the expiration dates. Also, samples will start arriving in the mail (with little to no effort on your part). These samples are usually full size cans of formula and can be added to your stockpile.
  • Wipes — Again, watch for free or almost free wipes and stock up at least six months worth.
  • Baby Bottles — I frequently see baby bottles in the clearance section of stores like Target and Walmart. Request manufacturer coupons for bottles and keep them on hand for those clearance sales. You will find that you can get your baby bottles (even brands like Avent) for pennies sometimes!
  • Clothes — Clothing can be tricky because of sizes and genders. However, I always watch for clearance sales on gender-neutral clothing basics like onesies, t-shirts, and pajamas. At the end of the season, you can find amazing prices on these items. If you are already pregnant, you can pretty safely estimate what size your baby will be during his first year of life and buy appropriate clothing at the end of the season.
  • Baby Gear — Every now and then a manufacturer will discontinue an item. This is NOT the same as a recall. They simply quit making a particular style of an item. When this happens, you can sometimes find closeout prices on the item. Such finds are rare but they do happen. When I was pregnant with my son I found a purple bouncer for $14 (it was originally $49). I knew I was having a boy but who cares? He didn’t mind having a purple bouncer!

Used Baby Clothes

I know, I know…there’s something a little icky about the idea of putting your fresh clean baby into somebody else’s stained and faded baby clothes. I use to feel the same way. Until I discovered how great used clothes can actually be and how cheap they are in comparison to new clothes. Before you totally write off the notion of used baby clothes, consider these sources and the benefits of each.

Resale Shops
Children’s resale shops are becoming quite popular all over the United States. There are a number of national chains of stores including Once Upon a Child, Children’s Orchard, and Kid to Kid, as well as many independent stores. The beauty of these shops is that they only accept the best of the best in used clothing. In most cases, the clothes have to be in style and free from stains, rips, or fading. You can often find brand-new clothing at these shops. To sweeten the deal, you can then sell your old baby clothes to the shops for cash or store credit.

Yard Sales
Obviously, not all yard sales are created equal. But if you are careful to choose sales with high quality merchandise and reasonable prices, you can sometimes score a lot of baby clothes for just a few dollars. Be sure to examine each item thoroughly to check for tears and stains. Also, don’t forget to negotiate. I recommend at least attempting to negotiate before buying any item at a yard sale.

Ebay
Ebay is a great place to find baby clothes, though it is usually more expensive than other places on this list. Nevertheless, if you look for “lots” of clothing (several items be sold in one listing), you can sometimes get really great deals. Just be sure to factor in the cost of shipping when figuring out how much you are willing to spend.

Consignment Sales
Consignment sales are annual or semi-annual sales held in churches, gymnasiums, and other venue. Similar to resale shops, consignment sales are selling clothing or other items brought in by individuals. They are usually required to be in good condition and often, the sale coordinators will put a cap on how much individuals can charge for an item of clothing. When shopping at a consignment sale, arrive early and be prepared to spend some time sifting through all of the clothing.

Thrift Stores
Thrift stores require the most patience of all the places in this list. Because thrift stores don’t have strict standards regarding the condition of the items they sell, you may very well have to pick through a number of unacceptable items in order to find a few gems. Nevertheless, this is one of the cheapest places to buy baby clothes and should not be disregarded.

Saving Money on Baby Clothes

Depending upon your personal level of frugality, there are many ways to save money on clothing your baby. Some, obviously, will save you more than others, but they all have their merits. These methods are listed in order of potential savings with the most expensive at the top and the most frugal at the bottom. If you are new to the frugal life and are a bit hesitant to jump in with both feet, start at the top of the list and work your way down.  First, though, let’s look at the cost of clothing your baby, along side the potential savings that frugality can provide:

Infant Clothing

The Cost Frugal Makeover
The cost to clothe your baby can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. According to the USDA, the average annual cost of clothing a child is about $600. Depending upon how you shop, your actual total could be much more or much less. Here is an example:

At an online children’s clothing boutique, I found an absolutely adorable blue cardigan sweater for a baby boy. The cost? $54. Plus $6 for shipping. Ouch. At this rate, I would far exceed the $600 per year average!

Combining some of the frugal strategies mentioned below, I found a comparable sweater for a much lower price.

First, I skipped the boutique and looked instead at The Children’s Place. At their website, I went directly to the sale page. That is where I found an equally adorable sweater for the rock-bottom price of just $10. But wait, there’s more. I used a click-through coupon in a promotional email from The Children’s Place to save 25% on any one item. Finally, I found a coupon code that entitled me to free shipping. When all was said and done, I spent $7.50. At this rate, I should come in at well under $600 over the course of the year.

Shop at Discount Stores

This may be an obvious suggestion but for some people, it is a giant leap toward frugality. If you typically buy your baby’s clothing at children’s boutiques or even at regular retail stores like Baby Gap or Macy’s, you are spending a lot of money on clothing. By shopping at discount stores like Walmart, Target, or even Family Dollar, you can save a considerable amount of money.

Shop at End of Season Sales

Most stores begin marking down their merchandise as the season draws to a close. By the very end of the season, clothes may be reduced by 75% or more. Since babies wear sizes that correspond with their age, you can usually shop in advance for your baby’s clothes.

Use Coupons

True, clothing retailers don’t routinely distribute coupons for their products. But many stores offer coupons for any purchases made in their establishments. And (this is my favorite frugal rule of thumb) ALWAYS look for coupon codes before purchasing an item online. There are amazing deals to be found.

Buy Used

You may feel a little squeamish about this one. Some people just don’t like the idea of putting their baby in other people’s clothing. But before you disregard this idea completely, just browse through a second hand store or spend a few minutes on Ebay. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that many items are new or nearly new. Click here for an in-depth look at second-hand clothing.

Get it for Free

Yep, that’s what I said. Free. Clothing swaps, online groups such as Freecycle, and other parents are all great sources of free clothing. Also, by combining other strategies such as coupons and sales, it is sometimes possible to get items for free or nearly free. Click here for more ideas on getting something for nothing.

How to Get Baby Clothes — For Free

According to the USDA, the average annual cost of clothing a child is about $600. I am here to assure you, though, that you can do it for much less. In fact, I maintain that you can practically clothe your baby for free. The following five strategies will get you started on scoring free clothes for your baby. Some people can use all of the suggestions and some may only use one or two. Using any of these suggestions, though, will help to save you money.

  1. Register for clothing. Most people remember to register for car seats and swings and even bottles, but surprisingly, a lot of people forget to put clothing on their baby registry. Also, be sure to register for more than just newborn and 0-3 month sizes. Be careful, though, to consider the seasons – don’t register for sundresses in a size 9 months if your baby will be nine months old in the dead of winter.
  2. Leave tags on clothes and keep receipts. Instead of immediately washing your baby’s new clothes and arranging them neatly in his closet, leave the tags on and hang onto the receipts. Why? Because you may have an abundance of one size and be able to exchange a few items for a bigger size. Likewise, your baby could skip the newborn size entirely (both of my babies did) so you could return all of your newborn clothing for bigger sizes.
  3. Join The Baby Chain. I can’t rave enough about this site. Its motto is “give what you can and get what you need” which pretty much sums up its purpose. When you join (for free), you can donate baby and maternity items to people who need them and you can request the items you need – including clothing. It is a terrific service that everyone should join.
  4. Join Freecycle. Freecycle is a network of local groups that works similarly to The Baby Chain. Members can offer up things they no longer need and request things that they do. While it is not exclusive to baby items, plenty of baby stuff changes hands on Freecycle.
  5. Resell your baby clothes. Children’s resale shops are becoming quite popular all over the United States. There are a number of national chains of stores including Once Upon a Child, Children’s Orchard, and Kid to Kid, as well as many independent stores. Parents can bring in their gently used baby and children’s clothing for cash or store credit. In many cases, the store credit will be greater than the cash amount. If you accept store credit, you can go ahead and shop right there for more clothes for your baby – for free!
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