I was recently out doing a little bit of Christmas Shopping when I saw that polo shirts were on clearance. It occurred to me that with the cost of goods increasing at a steady rate, it might be a good idea to stock up on these polo shirts for the next few years while I have the cash for it. So I used a chunk of our Christmas budget and went hunting for deals. This is what I found.
- 10 pairs of Jeans of various sizes. Five for the boys, five for the girls. Anywhere from $2.50 – $9 each.
- Red, white, blue and black short sleeve polo shirts for $5 each.
- Several colors of plain boy t-shirts with pockets on the front for $3 each.
- Several white blouses in various sizes for my girls for $2 each
I washed the second hand clothes (yes I know I should wash the new stuff too, but that can wait), folded everything and put them away, with the largest sizes on the bottom. Next time my kids come to me with their pants around their ankles, I’m ready.
We hear about food storage all of the time, but with the economy what it is these days and inflation eating up any extra cash we have lying around, stocking up on clothing when things are on sale is a really good idea. We never know what is going to happen, and I’m already ticked that the shirts I used to buy for $3 are now $6. So here are a few tips to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
- Don’t get anything just because it is cheap or on sale. Don’t waste your money on clothes that you don’t like, anything dirty or stained (if it is second hand) or ugly. Wasting money on something cheap is still wasting money. It is not a deal unless you will use it and use it often.
- Stock up on deals for all sizes from your oldest child of both genders and above. Don’t bother with the younger ones. They will share and get the hand-me downs.
- When going out for a specific “stocking up” shopping trip, hit Goodwill, DI and the Salvation Army FIRST! You know you will always be able to find stuff at Walmart and Target, but you can save yourself a LOT of money if you can get the clothes second hand. You may not find much, but it can make a difference. And they are often having really great sales. Last weekend our Salvation Army’s promotion was “all the clothes you can fit into a paper grocery bag for $3”. Seriously, it doesn’t get much better then that. And Matt found a $350 “Mess Dress” jacket for his air force uniform (formal wear) for $8 and it fit him like a glove, but they were having the paper bag sale so he got it for $3. Oh, and there was a dollar in the pocket. Sweet!
- It doesn’t take nearly as many clothes to outfit a child as you think it does. My children’s closets are full of clothes that they never want to wear and clothes that I don’t like so I don’t let them wear them often. And especially for us homeschoolers, since our kids aren’t spending every day comparing what they wear to what the other kids wear, fashions aren’t important. And half the time they do their lessons in their PJ’s anyway.
- Shop out of season. We all know about this one, but it’s a good reminder. It’s close to Christmas, so summer clothes are all on the sale racks. Get while the getting is good.
- As an adult, chances are you have a closet full of clothes of various sizes with another two or three boxes in the garage of clothes that you WILL be able to fit into again some day… oh sorry. That might just be me. Anyway, as an adult, you are probably good. Maybe another pair of jeans. But you and hubbie are good. Hold on to those goucho pants long enough and they’ll come back into style (or you could just wear them anyway like me.)
- There are only two types of children for which to buy clothes. Boy children and girl children. So you don’t need to get a separate set of clothing for each child. Hand-me-downs aren’t nearly as bad as they are made out to be.
- Get the “classics”. Straight cut jeans/kakis and slacks, polo shirts and solid t-shirts. No need to get fancy with “stocking up” clothes. Save getting “the latest fashions” for each child as they are interested, as they are appropriate and as you can afford it (oh the humanity of skinny jeans and pants with jewels on the rear). These clothes are meant to last. Don’t spend your money on anything you won’t like a year from now.
- Along the same lines, stay away from character clothes while stocking up. Your older daughter might like Princesses when she is younger, but there is no guarantee that your younger one will. As I said, stick with the basics while stocking up. Buying things that are “trendy” is a separate category. I’m not saying you can’t get it! But not when you are stocking up.
- For boys, make sure to stock up on white Sunday shirts and Sunday pants. Polo shirts work well for Sundays as well. If you want your little boys to wear ties, then get just a few in the various sizes and then they can borrow Dad’s.
- Girl Sunday staples are a black skirt and some solid color blouses. Again, no need to get fancy. Skirts are easy enough to learn how to sew if you find yourself in a financial pinch. So no need to stock up with a lot like you would with shirts and pants. One or two skirts will do the trick.
- Modest dresses are hard to come by, when you do, if you love it, get one in every size and color for your girls to grow in to. I can’t tell you how often I wish I had done this. But my girls are dress wearers. If your girls don’t like to wear dresses every day, skip this tip.
- Don’t bar them from your closet. When your girls fit into your clothes, share! If your daughter outgrows you, cross that bridge when you come to it. Same goes for boys raiding Dad’s closet.
- Everyone can were plain white socks. And you can never have enough socks. Find a brand and cut you like and stick to it. Don’t change unless you have to. And you will never have to match the socks again.
- A lot of stores (including Target and Walmart.com) sell uniforms for private schools. Those will NEVER go out of style and are really nice and classy looking.
- You only have to do this once! Once you are done you are DONE! You could buy them extra clothes if you wish or have the money later on, and if you have several children, you may need to replace an item here or there as they wear out, but only after three or four kids have gone through them.
- I am not including shoes. These are harder as they are more expensive, and at least for my kids, are too worn out to hand down to the next sibling in line. If you do decided to stock up on shoes, I would go with a good pair of sneakers in each size for each child and a pair of Sunday shoes in each size (if they only wear them on Sundays then you can hand them down). But do the shoes LAST.
You can either do it all at once or make it a point to pick up three or four things every time you go to Walmart. You will be done in no time!
If you are savvy you could EASILY outfit a largish family through adulthood for less than $1000 (I think we can do my family of four kids with less then $500). And that $1000 will get you a LOT more now then it will five years from now, I promise you that.
And on a related note, food storage and being prepared is important. Young children easily tire of toys and other things that you may buy them this Christmas. As far as toys and electronic entertainment is concerned, less really is more. It’s nice to have gadgets and a big TV, but the most fun we have had with each other is while playing a simple game or reading a book out loud. We all remember the feelings the most. The feeling of love, the feeling of fun and excitement and family and security. That is what makes a happy family. More and more toys and gadgets give us a small feeling of satisfaction but then leave us feeling wanting and empty after the novelty has worn off. But imagine how secure your little ones will feel to know that if Dad lost his job, or the the price of jeans tripled, they would still be able to eat and stay warm.
Good luck! And happy stocking!