my not-so-secret weapon for efficient kids' clothes shopping.

I'm not lying when I tell you that I've got shopping for kids' clothing down to a science.  A streamlined, efficient science that doesn't make me want to blow my brains out. 

Here's my secret weapon: a master list of the year's clothing needs for each kid. 

Once a year, I assess what we will need for the upcoming year of sizes, and once I'm all organized, we head out for the year's single shopping trip.  That's right, we only go once a year to buy kids' clothes - on Tax Free weekend before school starts in the Fall.  Almost of the warm weather stuff is
still out, and deeply discounted on clearance, and all the cool weather stuff is out and on sale for back-to-school shoppers.  Plus, they don't charge sales tax that day.  It's really the best time we've found to do it all at once.  I do usually have to go back and purchase coats, boots and snowpants at a later date, but often Old Navy and Gap give out Super Cash (or something similar) for use online later when you purchase a certain amount, so I can often just order the remaining items from home with the coupons I earned in the store.

We typically hit Old Navy, Target and the Gap in one trip.  Before we leave, I make sure to tally off anything we already have on hand in the targeted size.  As we hit each store, I continue to tally off the items that have been purchased.  When we've purchased as many of each item as we need, we stop buying.  It keeps us from overspending and being overrun with a bunch of unnecessary stuff down the road.

You may notice that we don't purchase much of each item, all things considered.  This list provides us with enough everyday clothing to last each kid around a week and a half.  Part of my secret is that, because we homeschool and aren't seen in public every day, I'm fine with them wearing the same item of clothing a couple of times before washing (as long as it's not physically dirty or stained).  There's a fine line between efficient and lazy, but I like to think this falls on the side of efficient - less money spent on clothing, less money spent on water and energy, less time and will-to-live spent on doing laundry.  Plus, stuff doesn't wear out as quickly if it's not washed every single time, so I don't have to replace it as often.  Everyone wins.  (One more boon of homeschool life - less laundry!)

A couple further tips for using this list -

1.  Put a fresh print-off of the list in each storage bin as you're putting away outgrown sizes.  That way, if you know the next kid who will wear this size will need a few new pairs of jeans to replace the ones that got trashed by the last kid, you can make note of it then and there, making life so much easier for you when you get that bin out next time and gear up to go shopping again.

2.  If you're more of a 'gradual' purchaser than an 'all-at-once' purchaser, you can still get use out of this.  One year, I just wrote out each kid's list on an index card and kept it in my wallet - that way I knew what I had and what I still needed whenever I'd come across a great deal in the clearance section or something.  I'd just mark it off as I went, and avoided overpurchasing items I already had plenty of at home.

Tomorrow, I'll show you how I store all their out-of-season clothes, and clothing sizes that aren't currently in use, to keep this system from overtaking our lives (and our house).  (Thanks for the post idea, Lissa!)


DanielConnor said...
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todd said...

these, "i'm not a robot" challenges are getting more and more involved. i'm barely human at this point it seems. anywho, these lists also help me get involved if there are odds and ends that need to be picked up. i like knowing that if i see a deal, i also know it's something we actually need instead of just buying an 11th pair of jeans.