24 February 2011

Kids' clothing bank

What if you never had to pay full price for your children's clothing ever again?

What if you never ran out of clothing for them, but always had clothes in the house that they could wear when they outgrew the last lot, no matter how unexpected the growth spurt?

What if you could buy more clothes for the same amount of money you currently spend?

You can, and I'll tell you how.

Children grow. It's a fact, it's not a surprise or emergency when it happens. It's something you can pretty much count on - your kids are going to get bigger and are going to outgrow the clothes they currently wear. By planning for this fact, you can save oodles of cash.

Building up a clothing bank is not an original concept, but it's an idea I've finally been implementing with our impending move to New Zealand and I love it!

I've been informed by those who have lived both in the UK and NZ that clothing is not only less expensive in England but is better quality too. I've always put clothes for my kids in storage for them to grow into (both new and hand-me-downs) but now I'm been determined to buy enough clothing to last the boys for the next two years, so I won't have to buy any in New Zealand for that length of time while we'll have other settling-in expenses.

Here's how I've gone about building up our kids' clothing bank.

First, and my inner geek rejoices at this, I created a very basic spreadsheet. I listed every item of clothing that is necessary - I'm talking the bare basics that they can comfortably get by with, taking into account the fact that I do laundry pretty much every day and they wear school uniforms. I didn't list vests (undershirts) as my kids hardly wear them - I'll just pick some up as they need them. (I put 0 next to jacket as I wanted to make a note of which jackets we already had (light-weight denim or corduroy jackets) but I don't see them as a necessity - my boys would rather just wear hoodies.)

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Then I made a note of every clothing size from the one that Noah will next grow into up to age 12-13. I made a note of which items I already have and coloured each block accordingly - red if I don't have enough in that size, amber if I have half (or 2 out of 3 items) and green if I have enough. And yes, Noah is currently wearing age 4-5 clothing, even though he's about to turn 6. Oh, and the underpant thing - my kids don't get new underpants in every age range, they tend to wear the same size for a few years before outgrowing them and then getting new ones a couple sizes bigger. What can I say, their skinny butts don't seem to grow! (Wish I could say the same for myself!!)

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Then it's time to shop the sales! Every time I go somewhere that has decent quality, low-priced kids' clothing (Tesco, Asda, Matalan, Sainsbury's or Primark) I check out the sale rails. I take a print-out of my spreadsheet with me so that I don't end up buying too many of one type or size of item - it's not a saving if you don't need the item.

This week I was in Sainsbury's and they had 25% off all clothing - out came my printout and I stocked up on some items for the boys. Then I went to Tesco and they had a 50% off sale rail - got some more goodies. Went to Matalan and they also had a 50% off sale rail and I bought enough items that the guy on checkout had to get a colleague to help him process my purchase. When the total rang up both of them did a literal double-take, they couldn't believe I got so many items for such a low amount. Score!

Here's how I store the items - in large plastic bins with lids. I printed the sizes on sheets of paper and slipped them in between the sides of the bins and the clothes - there are labels on the ends as well.

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I can't tell you how much I love having this much preparation! Because let's face it, I'm going to have to buy the kids all of these clothes sooner or later anyway, but this way I get to control how much I spend on them, rather than buying items at full price because my kids urgently need them.

I will continue with this concept once we get to New Zealand - maybe not buying everything in every size for the next three or four years, but certainly picking up things that I know the boys will need sooner or later. Might as well get them on sale, right?


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