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Shopping for Your Kids without Going Broke
There is nothing I love more than shopping for my daughter but as my credit card statements will tell you it adds up fast; which is the precise reason the hub I wrote prior to this concerned cutting costs. My problem is I will cut costs every which way but when it comes to my little girl I just want her to have the very best of everything: clothes, toys and everything in between.
Since I became a mom I have got myself into a very important habit: keep all coupons with you at all times. I have a Ziploc bag with all the coupons I have in a pocket in my purse at all times. It saves a lot of frustration avoiding those times when you’re at the store and you realize you left the coupon at home. The most valuable coupons I have are those that give discounts on clothes for my daughter.
These are some of my experiences with different children’s stores
The clothes are to die for! I cannot even tell you how much I spent at Gymboree on my daughter last spring after she was born. Their clothes are the way children should dress – cute – not like mini adults. However make sure to get the Gymboree rewards card. The card itself will not help much; you get a $5.00 gift card for every $250 you spend, hardly a deal. But the card will make you eligible for coupons and these are what you want. Normally the coupons will be 30% off all regular priced items or 20% off entire purchase including sale items. This is the one you want since you will inevitably be drawn to the sales rack. You also want to make sure you shop at a time when they are giving out “GYMBUCKS”. For every $50 you spend you will receive $25 in GYMBUCKS. On the paper will be a range of dates you can come back and redeem the GYMBUCKS. You will just need to have $50 worth of merchandise in order to apply the $25 in GYMBUCKS. It is essentially like getting 50% off your purchase! Gymboree clothing is obtainable but you have to shop wisely! As tempted as you are to pay full price, just hang on it will go on sale.
Carter’s is a great line of clothing; relatively inexpensive and really cute options for girls and boys. All Carter’s stores are outlets so they always have a sale running. However not all sales are created equal, make sure that they are offering at least 50% off items, 40% minimum. Sometimes they go as high as 60% and 70% off depending if they are trying to move out merchandise to make room for the next season. You should never pay full price for any Carter’s clothing, some stores such as Kohl’s sell Carter’s clothing, but it is not always on sale.
I typically do my bulk shopping at our local Carter’s. As different seasons approach or my daughter is entering a new size I go in to Carter’s to stocks up on the basics: sleepers, onesies, pants, jeans, shirts, hoodies, sweaters, etc. While all of the stores are outlets you still need to have a coupon to receive at minimum an additional 20% off your total purchase. If you Google Carter’s coupons you may also come across a 25% entire purchase coupon, even better!
Carter’s also has a savings card for their customers. For every $20 you spend you get a stamp, fives stamps on the card will get you $10 off your next purchase. The trick to this card is if you shop on Tuesdays at Carter’s then you get two stamps for every $20 you spend. When I was stocking up on basics for my daughter for this coming spring/summer I easily filled up two cards. The downside to these savings cards is they cannot be combined with store coupons, and since the store coupons almost always give me the greater savings I do not get a chance to you my $20 credit. However I avoided this by simply bringing my husband and having him use the savings cards on $20 worth of merchandise while I you the coupon on the rest. Work as a team, don’t let the stores win!
Kohl’s is a great place to shop because they are almost always having a sale. Again, Kohl’s sells Carter’s brand clothing but make sure they are giving at least 50% off. Kohl’s is also home to an adorable line of kid’s clothing called ‘Jumping Beans’. These clothes are really cute and very inexpensive; these should be at least 50% off as well. When shopping at Kohl’s you should be sure to go at a time when they are giving out ‘Kohl’s Cash’, for every $50 you spend they give you $10 of Kohl’s Cash good towards any purchase made within the dates specified on the slip. My husband often purchases his work shirts and suits at Kohl’s so we can get upwards of $30 to $40 in Kohl’s Cash at a time. By combining the Kohl’s Cash with a great sale with have purchases several adorable outfits for my daughter at no cost to us!
Our local Old Navy as a rule has absolutely no selection. I do the majority of our family’s Old Navy shopping online. If you ever shop on oldnavy.com do not place your order unless you are getting a 30% discount or 25% at the least. You should also make sure to take advantage of their free shipping on all orders over $50. You should try at all costs not to pay shipping for online orders; eventually all web sites give some sort of deal on shipping. Take notice though that the discount will not be applied to (in my experience) 6 packs of children’s socks, any character licensed clothing, and Flag Tees. Old Navy does have some cute clothing but over the past 10 years or so their children’s clothing has really gone downhill.
I just love TJ Maxx and Marshall’s as well as their sister store Home Goods which I’ll talk about next. Not only do I get to have the great experience of finding myself great clothes (sometimes designer labels) for a steal but now I get to share this experience with my daughter; who for 12 months old is a fantastic shopper! I can always find adorable dresses for her that cost between $12.99 and $19.99 depending on the brand. The outfits closer to $20 are typically Polo by Ralph Lauren dresses that are really cute for little girls. They also sell Carter’s at these stores and often at a lower price than you could get at Carter’s with a coupon. Just the other day I had been thinking about ordering some clothes from Mini Boden which has a gorgeous line of children’s clothing when I was walking through Marshall’s and found the sweetest dress I had ever seen for my daughter. A sun dress with an old fashion beach print on the skirting for only $12.99; it made me realize not all of the clothes that you simply must have do not have to come with a hefty price tag. I also did well at these stores shopping for shoes for my daughter before she began walking; most did not cost more than $7.99. Now that she is walking though I prefer she wear a more well-structured (unfortunately more expensive) sneaker.
TJ Maxx and Marshall’s also both have great toy and books sections. Many times I have picked up books for my daughter for dollars less than the listed price on amazon.com. Depending on the individual store these selections can be limited but are always worth a look! My daughter’s favorite sippy cup was actually a TJ Maxx find where I got a set of two sippy cups with straws built in and two snack-to-go containers for only $9.99; significantly less than Babies R Us.
Home Goods is more than just a shopping trip, it’s a form of therapy. For years my mother and have gone together only to split up and see who can scoop up all the good finds first. Like any store there are times when the stock is fabulous and there are other times when I leave defeated with no shopping bags in hand. My problem is I have Pottery Barn Kids taste with a Home Goods budget. Though my daughter does have a selection of items from PB Kids (probably more than a child her age should) I have filled in the gaps with items I have been collecting from Home Goods years before I was even pregnant!
Just recently I was in a PB Kids store with my mother and daughter admiring the adirondack chairs they had in child size ($79 without personalization). They were really cute although somewhat plain; I still told my mom how I would really like to get my daughter one for the patio. I held off though because I had wanted to pay cash and not charge. This past weekend my daughter and I visited our local Home Goods and on an end cap I saw multiple stacks of children’s Adirondack chairs that needed to be assembled. They were adorable and only $29.99, less than half the price of the PB kid’s version. We decided on a pink chair with a tropical fish painted across the back. It was not just the price that got me excited about this chair but also that it felt like a child’s chair. It was not simply an adult item made in miniature form. I want my daughter to enjoy every moment of being a child! We also picked up an adorable child-size low sand chair with a darling mermaid on the back for our beach trips this summer for only $12.99. As I was checking out I was thinking how I got her two great, fun chairs for a fraction of the price of the PB kids chair; and let’s face it, she is simply not going to know the difference. If anything I think she will get a real kick out of the decoration on both chairs!
Just like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s I have found some great books and small toys at Home Goods over the years for really great prices. My greatest find in regards to my daughter was a plush rocking elephant with crinkly ears. My mother and I were at Home Goods during the summer and I saw out of the corner of my eye one of the employees clearing a large space on a shelf and placing on what looked to be animal rockers. I scooted over for a closer look and when my eyes fell on this elephant it was love at first sight. It was not on that shelf for five seconds before I scooped it up and put it in the cart. It was soft, very well-made, great for a boy or girl, and it was mine for only $49.99; this is a savings of 50% or more compared to similar catalog items. I loved it so much I went back later that week and bought the cow rocker for my nephew. A month later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter and today she rides that elephant like it’s a bucking bronco!
The above are my regular haunts so to speak when it comes to shopping for my daughter. I know my husband feels that sometimes the more I save the more I spend, and perhaps he is right, but I just cannot always help myself when it comes to her. Regardless of how much you shop just make sure that you have a plan beforehand. Always go into a store with an initial idea of what you may be looking for and how much you want to spend; even if your budgeting is not rigorous you should always try to have one!