When it comes to shopping, there are two things I know about kids: They’re expensive and shopping for them is fun. If those tiny accessories or beautiful handmade toys don’t get you, then the thrill of the hunt will — a good deal, an annual sale, a clearance rack that gives you the gift of a shameless brag: “You paid what for that? I got it for half off!”
Bargain hunting runs thick in my blood. My mother was the one who would choose a broken zipper when the same skirt was available in perfect condition, if it would score her 20 percent off. Fortunately, now with the Internet and social media, there are far more ways to find deals for kids’ products than to search the racks for broken zippers.
Before you head out with your holiday list this year, take a moment to see if any of these tips can help you save some money and find the best deals for your kids:
1. Use Your Resources
Sure our phones might drive us crazy and seek to distract us from the outside world, but they come in handy when you’re out shopping. Before you put that toy in your cart or check out with that stroller, use your phone for some quick comparative shopping. A quick Google shopping search can bring up a whole list of other merchants’ pricing. I do make an exception to this when I’m supporting small businesses though. You most likely will find that sweet toddler bathing suit that’s at your local boutique for less money online. But if you always buy it cheaper online, your town won’t have that boutique for very long.
2. Buy Second Hand and Use eBay
For a lot of top kid clothing brands, when you pay full price, you’re not just paying for the quality of the garment but for how hip and new it is, too. Guess what? Kids don’t care what the newest trend is (neither do moms, right?!) and the last time I checked, no 18 month old shunned a pal for being “so last season.” You can save a considerable amount of money when you shop second hand or look for last season’s lines — many times still new with tags — on sites like eBay. As you fall in love with different brands, keep a list of what you like and frequently search eBay for deals. There are also many online consignment shops (ThredUP is a great one and has an app as well) that not only offer you great deals on gently used clothes, but also give you the opportunity to get rid of some of your old things and earn a little cash. And don’t forget Craigslist for bigger items like cribs, strollers and large outdoor toys.
3. Buy Ahead
This might be a no brainer, but the best time to find deals on kids’ clothing is when the demand for them is gone. When shops release their spring and summer lines, they’re clearing out their winter stuff, so that’s your time to snatch it up for next year. We live in Florida and wear swimsuits all year long. And I’ve been known to go swimsuit hunting in August, when my favorite shops’ summer gear is on clearance, and buying them one to two sizes bigger for the coming years.
4. Search for Coupon Codes
Before I buy anything online at full price, I Google “coupon code for _____” to make sure there aren’t any deals hanging out there in the void that could save me some money. Many mom bloggers partner with children’s companies to offer coupon codes and special promotions, and a quick search can help you find these.
5. Get on Email Lists for Your Favorite Shops
For all the spam your email box acquires from companies that don’t interest you, it’s about time you got some email love that you’ll actually use. Sign up to receive special deals from your favorite shops — both online and the local ones you visit. My favorite local children’s boutique has two big sales a year with fantastic markdowns, and I’d never remember if I wasn’t on their email list. And don’t be afraid to ask sales associates if there are any upcoming sales or deals. Sometimes when I ask, they’ll automatically honor a sale that’s over or pull out a coupon they wouldn’t have offered me if I hadn’t asked.
6. Follow Instagram and Facebook Accounts for Your Favorite Merchants
Smart companies know how to reach their fans — and they’re doing it through social media. Other than a blatant need, my main incentive for hopping online to shop for my kids is seeing something on Instagram or Facebook that alerts me of a sale, coupon code or special offer. And there are some excellent ones out there!
7. Let Shops Know You’re a Loyal Customer
This is especially true for small businesses. If you’re a frequent shopper, let that business know. Tell them you love them, get to know them, share the shop with your friends and tell that shop you’re spreading the love. If business owners recognize you as a loyal customer, they might be inclined to throw in some perks when you order.
8. Daily Deal Sites
My secret for shopping online for my kids lies in daily deal sites that feature large quantities of particular brands and items marked down. If my kids’ clothes and toys aren’t thrifted or handmade, there’s a good chance that they came from stores like GILT or Zulily. For these sites though, you have to act fast. You can also sign up to get alerts for upcoming sales on your chosen favorite brands, which helps you avoid the temptation to buy things you don’t need. Plus, you can download these sites’ apps to help make shopping more convenient.
9. Amazon Prime Member
Two words: Free shipping. We try to balance shopping locally and supporting small businesses with bigger companies, but the fact of the matter is, we save a lot of money buying bigger items and things we regularly use through Amazon. Shipping costs add up, and the competitive pricing of Amazon gives us access to great deals that are delivered to our home in two days, free of charge.
10. Download Savings Apps
This is especially true for Target shoppers. Their Cartwheel app continually delivers 10 to 15 percent deals on an incredible selection of their brands — and it has an entire category dedicated to kids’ deals including toys, clothes, diapers, toiletries and more. If you’re a frequent Target shopper like I am, you’re losing a chance to save a lot of money if you don’t use their Cartwheel app.
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