Wednesday 27 August 2014

Back-to-School Thrifting

I could have called this post "Bleeding Money in August and September."  If you're a parent, you know what I'm talking about.  This is an expensive time of year and if you're like me and my family, you spent all the money this summer.  Luckily, my kids are quite accustomed to regular trips to Value Village balance therefore they are totally fine with a thrifted back-to-school wardrobe.  Maybe that will change as they get older and if so, they can get a job.  Meanwhile, I have been keeping an eye out for back-to-school things for my kids while thrifting and am pleased to report great success!

VV Boutique shared some "BTS" data with me - did you know that 98.5% of VV's "kids" items are $8 or less?  For a full back-to-school wardrobe including coats and footwear, families can expect to spend $100 or less per child at VV.  That eases the BTS financial burden significantly.  And, I might add, a child's thrifted BTW wardrobe can be every bit as stylish as regular retail (just like mommy's thrifted wardrobe)!  My oldest son, the priority for BTS clothes this year after a summer growth spurt, said about his thrifted pieces:
I like the cool designs.  They feel cozy.
He's 8 and very eloquent.  He has a pretty easy style - jeans and a t-shirt - though last year he did a great job styling up his thrifted blazer for school photos ("It's okay Mom, I know how to do this," then proceeded to put a tee under a button shirt with the blazer and jeans).  I found him several wardrobe staples, most at 30% off with my filled sticker card from donations and some at 50% off from sale days.
Jeans ranging from $2.10 - $4.90
Tees ranging from $2.80- $3.50
Plaid from $2.10 - $3.50
Gym shorts $1.50 a piece on sale day.

Gap fleece coat $6.30 and new-with-tags Puma hoodie coat $7

My 6yo son was able to move into most of his older bro's clothes but I thrifted him some "new" tops and better fitting jeans assuming, if he's like his mother, a little novelty goes a long way.  Also, the hand-me-downs do tend to wear out faster as the kids get older.

Ranging from $1.40 to $3.50

As for my 4yo daughter, there are so many cute clothes available in stores these days but, as much as I would like to dress her up in all the latest, she simply doesn't need it and doesn't care.  She has a closet full of hand-me-downs and thrifted pieces - she is lacking nothing. So, I didn't buy her BTS clothes.  Is that a confession?  Should I feel bad about it?  Nope.  Instead it leaves me able to respond when she does ask for something (while we're thrifting) or when she grows out of pieces or does need something.  It will be enough novelty for her when I do the dreaded great seasonal closet changeover and bring out all the cool-weather pieces.  Hmmm, maybe I should try that in my own closet... nah.

I have 5 tips for back-to-school thrifting:
  1. Thrift on sale days or with a coupon - you know BTS is coming, you know approximately what size your kids are.  Keep that in mind and start collecting pieces on sale days.  I aim for at least 30% off or more.
  2. Ignore the ads; layering for little boys is BS questionable.  Every time I try to send my boys to school in layers, things end up in the lost and found.  Maybe it's just my kids, but regardless, pay attention to what THEY like to wear and get that for them, even if you really think they'd look handsome in a t-shirt, chambray and sweater vest on a daily basis.
  3. Don't buy what they don't need.*  It only translates to overwhelming laundry.  Also, see my confession about my daughter above.  There will be plenty of times when they constantly need more clothes, so if they're not in that phase, embrace it!
  4. Donate what you're done with.  At Value Village, you can get a discount with donations; Goodwill offers a tax receipt.  Proceeds from Hope Mission Bargain Shoppe and the Bissell Center Thrift Shop support our community...  It just makes sense to donate.
  5. It's not only about getting the best deal.  Nowadays, new regular retail children's clothing can be affordable and occasionally cheaper than thrifted.  But the bottom line is not the only line.  Reducing and reusing are valuable practices with clothing, and worthwhile teaching to our children.
*This does not apply to mommies especially with regards to shoes or dresses.  Or bags.

It's not too late for back-to-school thrifting!  There are sales happening this weekend, so when you're out and about wondering why they need 5 "large" glue sticks and 4 "white" erasers and trying to find them still in stock somewhere, stop at a thrift shop and pop some BTS tags!

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