Rachel Ste­wart

Parenting - - Contents -

Shop­ping on a bud­get

Wgives her ad­vice on how to find fan­tas­tic pre-loved clothes for your kids that won’t break the bank.

ith many fam­i­lies on a sin­gle in­come these days, try­ing to find spare money to buy chil­dren new clothes can be a very stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, and more of­ten than not, fam­i­lies have to rely on other loved ones to buy the kids new out­fits for birth­day and Christ­mas presents. If your child is in need of some trendy new clothes for the up­com­ing sea­son, don't de­spair. For a lim­ited bud­get of only $20, you can get your hands on up to dozens of good qual­ity pre-loved cloth­ing items.

Em­brace the in­ter­net

The in­ter­net is a fan­tas­tic place to not only buy new kids clothes, but pre-loved out­fits as well, thanks to the world's largest on­line mar­ket­place – ebay, and our lo­cal ver­sion, Trade Me. Both web­sites are very sim­ple to use. Trade Me and ebay sell­ers of­fer great cloth­ing bar­gains all year round, but prices tend to be con­sid­er­ably higher be­tween the months of Oc­to­ber and Jan­uary, due to a large num­ber of buy­ers look­ing for Christ­mas presents. This pushes up the de­mand for qual­ity out­fits. From per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, I have found that the best time to buy clothes on­line is be­tween Jan­uary and April, when hun­dreds of un­wanted Christ­mas gifts are listed for sale at re­duced prices.

The ad­van­tage ebay has over Trade Me is the sheer quan­tity of cloth­ing styles, colours and brands avail­able – ev­ery­thing from de­signer la­bels through to cheaper but still fash­ion­able chain store brands. For less than $10 per item, you can find a beau­ti­ful dress, a warm win­ter jacket, a bun­dle of tops and t-shirts, a cou­ple of win­ter romper out­fits, or a trendy pair of denim jeans. You can also shop 24 hours a day in the pri­vacy of your own home, or while out and about thanks to mo­bile apps.

From my many years of buy­ing sec­ond hand cloth­ing for my chil­dren, I have found the best bar­gain buys at lo­cal char­ity shops. Most lo­cal shop­ping ar­eas have at least two sec­ond-hand shops, with the most pop­u­lar ones run by the Red Cross, Sal­va­tion Army, SPCA and lo­cal hos­pices.

The best char­ity stores to visit are those in wealthy sub­urbs where many clothes for sale are by trendy de­signer la­bels. These clothes have usu­ally only been worn once or twice and are in 'as new' con­di­tion. You can also find great treasures in dol­lar bins, so don't shy away from brows­ing through the moun­tains of clothes.

Many of the best bar­gains can be found at the end of each sea­son, so buy your chil­dren clothes for the fol­low­ing sum­mer at the be­gin­ning of April, or a month or two be­fore the start of the sum­mer sea­son to grab fan­tas­tic bar­gains be­fore ev­ery­one else has the same idea. If you find a lovely out­fit for your child that's too big, buy it any­way and put it away for a Christ­mas or birth­day present later on.

real life

If you can spare a cou­ple of hours on a Satur­day morn­ing, garage sales are a great way to find in­cred­i­ble cloth­ing, toy, book and fur­ni­ture bar­gains. Look in your lo­cal news­pa­per for a list of garage sales be­ing held, and if you want to head out to a few, choose some in the same sub­urb each time. Most garage sales start at 8am, but I have seen ea­ger bar­gain-hunters turn up any time from 7.30am.

Garage sales can be hit or miss, but when you find one with a lot of chil­dren’s items, you can get some se­ri­ous bar­gains. Most items are only $1 each, and you can usu­ally get a few books or soft toys thrown in for free as the sell­ers are al­ways very keen to get rid of all their un­wanted good­ies. I have also found ex­cep­tional fur­ni­ture bar­gains at garage sales, with kids desks and book­shelves in bril­liant con­di­tion, priced at only $10. It’s a good idea to take a trailer or a car with a good sized boot when you at­tend garage sales, es­pe­cially if you are plan­ning to buy fur­ni­ture items.

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