Monday, July 18, 2016

How to Dress Your Child on a Zero Dollar Budget




With school preparing to start back much more quickly than I'd like, I've found myself being bombarded with back-to-school ads.  My daughter is starting "actual" preschool this fall.  She was in a K2/Mother's Day Out class last year and loved it, but there's something that is tugging at my heart about her official start of preschool. Oh, how I wish I could make time slow down, but it keeps going, and she keeps growing, and my heart overflows at how blessed I am to be her mommy.

But speaking of her growing...

I have always been shocked by the large price tags that accompany the tiniest clothing. Typically, kids grow about a size each year.  That's a lot of clothes to buy and then have to replace so quickly. I can't justify paying so much for something she may only wear for a season. I know I'm not the only one.  But I also know that I do not want to sacrifice dressing her in cute clothes. Not to toot my own horn, but I think my daughter is pretty much the most adorable thing in the world. I love dressing her up just as much as she loves to wear pretty things. It's a win-win. And I think I've found the winning-est combination of ways to make sure that she looks stylish without breaking the bank... Or really spending any money at all.

So here are my four ways to dress your child on a ZERO DOLLAR budget.

1. Hand-me-downs

We are blessed to attend a wonderful church filled with families with young children.  We have made some of our best friends through attending our church, and Parker loves going to Sunday School with "the boys and girls," as she calls them.   In the three year old group, she is the only girl. Many of our friends have daughters who are a few years older.  And many more have daughters a few years older than that. These girls have been passing clothes back and forth for years. Now Parker has gotten added to the list. There are some other outfits that have been passed along from some other friends, too.




All of these were handed down from friends. The black and white outfit was one of my favorites when she was little bitty. The blue dress is one she wore at our church's Easter egg hunt. The Christmas dress came from a secretary at school. She bought it for her granddaughter, but it was too small.  She passed it along to Parker brand new!
We always make sure to take extra care of hand-me-downs. That's how they last so long, and they may be passed along again one day!
2. Homemade clothing

I will let you in on a secret: I cannot sew.  I cannot knit. I cannot crochet.

Okay, so maybe it's not that much of a secret.  However, I am surrounded by amazingly talented women who can do all of these things! Let's start with sewing.

My mother-in-law is a skilled seamstress and quilter. Like, super skilled. And she loves to use her talents for her family.  My sister-in-law and I both have quilts in the works that she is making for us, and they are so beautiful! She also has made Parker some outfits.


She made Parker's first Halloween costume for us. She was the cutest Dorothy ever! She also put aside her feelings and made an Alabama dress for this Alabama mama! I tell you, you know your Auburn-fan mother-in-law likes you when she is willing to make a dress in the fabric of her arch nemesis!

I also said I cannot knit, but my grandmother has been knitting since before I can remember.  She made so many clothes for me (which we will get to in a minute), and she has made so many for her first great-grandchild, too!


Both of these knitted outfits came from my grandmother. The red dress she wore at her first Thanksgiving, and the white one kept her warm during her first snowfall. 
 The third skill I lack, crocheting, is made up for by my awesome sister-in-law, Jessica. Aunt Jessica makes some of the most beautiful things.  And she does it without a pattern! If she sees it, chances are she can make it. Like this outfit:



She made the hat, the cowl, and the skirt.  The skirt has a "draw string" waist with a ribbon, so Parker can wear it year after year. I saw the hat and cowl on Pinterest and sent her pictures of them. They are even more beautiful than the originals!
Handmade clothes are a great way to dress your child, and I think the clothes mean more because every time I see them, I think of the women who made them.

3.  Raid your old clothes

Remember when I said my grandmother had made tons of clothes for me when I was little? I wasn't kidding. And I have a mother who saved them all and kept them in great condition. Check at your parents' house.  I'm sure they saved some of your baby things, too.




The picture on the top is me, and Parker is on the bottom. My grandmother made the dress, hat, and jacket. I can actually remember this dress from when I was little, and seeing it on my daughter makes me smile.

Believe it or not, my grandmother also made this coat and cap for me.  It's knitted with wool, lined on the inside with pink satin, and has a velvet collar. You can't find quality like this in a store, ESPECIALLY on a budget. Raiding my old clothes has produced some of my favorite outfits for Parker to wear. It's nice, too, because my mom and grandmother remember me wearing them, and now they see them on my daughter. Generations of use!
4. Consignment
Oh, I do love consignment.  I have found some amazing deals at our local consignment store, Taylor Bug's.  Brands like Matilda Jane, Mud Pie, Baby Gap, etc. Basically clothes I could otherwise not afford.  You can find name brand clothing for cents on the dollar! CENTS, people! Tiffany is the owner, and she is such a sweetie! Her prices are so fair, and she only accepts high-quality, well-taken-care-of clothing.  I never have to worry about holes or stains. She's worried about it for me. My favorite part of consignment is store credit. I started consigning when Parker started outgrowing her baby clothes that we had gotten as baby shower gifts. I kept the super special ones, but we don't have enough room to store everything. I took them to Taylor Bug's, and she sold them for me. I receive 40% of sales as either cash or store credit. I always take the store credit. And then I wait for her end of season sales where I can get clothes marked up to 90% off! Here's what I do. I take Parker's clothes that she's outgrown at the start of the season (Fall clothes in July, and Spring clothes usually in January). I wait for the clothes to sell. For every $100 in sales, I get $40 in store credit. I use that store credit to buy more clothes for the next season when they go on sale. And a new thing she just started is rewards points. For every dollar spent, I earn a point. Once I reach 150 points, I earn $5 in store credit. The best part is that I am earning points every time I spend my store credit! I can get an entire season's wardrobe without spending any real money. And, my word, the clothes I can get are amazing!

 



Every single outfit came from the same consignment store, and I didn't pay a dime for any of them out of pocket- just store credit. Easter dresses, boutique clothing... all of it essentially FREE.  Best part is, the ones she outgrew went back to be resold for more store credit. It's a never-ending circle of new clothes for zero dollars!


I won't say I don't ever spend money on her clothes.  But when I do, I do not feel guilty about it. Some outfits are worth the splurge, and I can afford to splurge every now and then if I'm smart about the way I shop all the other times.

Did I miss anything? What are some ways you save money shopping for your kids? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

Rebekah

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