Buying baby clothes on a budget.

Who knew shopping for your little one could be so fun and addicting! The clothes these days are out of control cute, but I don’t want to go broke dressing my babe.

Before motherhood, I was a thrift store guru. I loved seeing what I could find for a great price. Fast forward six months into parenthood. The thought of trying to coordinate time to go browse racks of clothing in hopes of finding what I am looking for holds no appeal. And most thrift stores I have gone to are still charging $1-$2 per piece.

What about rummages or garage sales? That is a whole other beast. To get the good deals you must go early….again, no thanks. You don’t know what you are going to find or in what condition and I find people want too much for their stuff nowadays. To me, garage sale prices should be around $0.25-$0.50 per piece for infant clothing; more for sleepers or nicer outfits.

Even if you do get a great deal on some baby clothes: How long will they last? Do they already look worn? What about spit up or other stains?

Don’t get me wrong. You can find some great deals out there and most of the time the items have been worn only a few times. BUT time is money. You spend time and gas to drive around to garage sales and thrift stores without a guarantee of finding anything. If you find great bargains at these places, great- but if you would rather buy new clothes at great prices keep reading!

I buy new name brand clothes at ridiculously cheap prices without spending a ton of time! We want more kids and I want stuff to last as long as possible. We also prefer quality over quantity. So here are a few tips to save big time at department stores and online.

Department Shopping

My favorite kid’s clothing store is by far BabiesRUs. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have one close by. A close second is Kohls. Depending on how your child is shaped this could be different. We are pretty loyal to Carter’s brand, because of the quality and how they fit our cloth diapered baby.

BabiesRUs

  1. Sign up for their RewardsRUs program. The key to getting the best deal possible is getting the most out of your dollar! Once you earn 500 points they send you a $5 rewards coupon that you can use like cash in the store. Also, when you go to print off your rewards coupon there are usually other coupons that you can print off. One of my favorites is a $10 off any clothing purchase of $50 or more.
  2. Sign up for the BabiesRUs credit card if you have control with credit cards. We use it only for purchases at the store and always pay off the balance. Using the credit card for purchases gives you double points (4 points per dollar spent) instead of the normal 2 per dollar without it. Your points accumulate twice as fast this way! I will add that we use the cash envelope system. If I spend $10 at BabiesRUs on the card, I just take that cash out of my ‘Caleb’ section and put it back into the budget.
  3. By signing up for the RewardsRUs program, you will be sent special coupons in the mail. Normal coupons are 20% off one regular price item or 25% off one regular price item when you use your credit card (So many benefits for using the credit card. Ultimately, they want to make money off of you through interest and enticing you to spend more money. Pay it off on time and stay within a budget to beat them at their own game.) About twice a year they send out a 25% off coupon for your total purchase including clearance which is a favorite of mine.
  4. Know when they change seasons. The first week of July is when fall/winter clothes arrive. They have to make room, so they clearance all the summer clothes. Know when this happens in your area to get the biggest selection before it is picked over. Our store put all the summer stuff on clearance and then added a Buy One Get One FREE sale. Oh yeah!
  5. Look for clothing sets. It isn’t super important, but I have found that I get the best deals when I buy outfit sets verses a one piece item. For example: shirts and shorts were on clearance for $8 apiece. I found shirt and short sets on clearance for $8. I was able to get double the pieces for the same price.
  6. There are great Apps for your smartphone that always have coupons. I use SnipSnap and always have a coupon even if nothing came in the mail.
  7. I hear all the time how expensive BabiesRUs is compared to other stores. True, but they price match, have great sales, and offer awesome coupons! I have also found that the staff is amazing and always try to get me the best deal possible.

How do you put this all together during your trip? I printed off my $15 in reward dollars and the $10 off a $50 clothing purchase coupon before I went. I shopped the clearance racks first. (I forgot to mention that BabiesRUs almost always has clothes on sale) I used my 25% off my entire purchase coupon including clearance items, my $15 reward coupon, and the $10 off coupon because I made sure I bought over $50 worth of clothing! And then I received 4 points for every dollar during that transaction to work towards 500 points. I don’t remember the final total, but it was a great shopping trip!

Here is one of my latest BabiesRUs finds. I went to get the sleepsack, because Caleb is starting to get out of the swaddle. Somehow it rang up as part of the 90% off clearance…yes my jaw dropped when she told me it was $2. The swim trunks and shirt are for next summer. The outfit in the middle was a set (see #5 above). My total was $15 and some change making each item $2.50. Not bad at all considering the sleep sack alone is $19.99 normally.¬† photo(138)

Kohls

I find that Kohls is a great store to shop at online if you don’t want to get off the couch! I was looking for a shirt recently for Caleb’s dedication and saw that they were having great sales on all their summer stuff also. I seized the sales ūüôā

  1. Always, always, always use Ebates if you are shopping online. To date, I have received over $150 back from my purchases (We were stationed in Korea for two years, so we did a lot of online shopping). Most stores have money back rewards for Ebates. I looked today and Kohls is offering 6% back on your purchase.
  2. Sign-up to receive mobile alerts from Kohls. Every time you shop you should always have a coupon! I either have it on my phone or get it in the mail.
  3. Sunday fliers- I noticed Kohls will put special coupons in their Sunday fliers. You just have to flip through it to see. The most recent one was $10 off your kid’s apparel purchase of $30 or more. The coupon said it could be combined with other offers such as a 20% off your total purchase coupon on your phone!
  4. Kohl’s Cash. Try to buy when they are offering Kohl’s cash. I placed an order online and received $20 in Kohl’s cash.
  5. Kohl’s Cash #2. The whole point of Kohl’s cash is to get you to buy more later. Always beat them at their own game. I went into the store with my Kohl’s cash to avoid having to spend $75 to get free shipping online.
  6. Shop the clearance racks at the end of the season. All their summer items were on clearance.
  7. Buy ahead. I bought all of Caleb’s summer clothes for next year. He fits into all the normal clothing sizes for his age, so I went ahead and bought 18 months. We also love Carter’s brand and know they will fit him the best. I have found Carter’s to be the best in quality, fit, and durability so far.

Is your head spinning yet? It really isn’t too hard and doesn’t require a lot of time. Buying ahead and at the end of the season is going to save you the most money before coupons anyways.

Here are my Kohl’s purchases from online and in-store recently. A few items are missing, because they are Christmas, shower, and birthday gifts:) Always think ahead. photo(139)

When this was all said and done, I save 72% and averaged $2.66 per piece! Brand new name brand clothing just over $2.50 a piece is a great deal and I didn’t have to leave my living room for over half of it.

Two final tips to make this even easier:

  1. Stay organized. I have bins in the garage that are labeled for each age starting at newborn up to 24 months right now. So, when you go shopping you can first go look quickly at what you have to know where you need to fill in. photo(140)
  2. Have a target price. Like I said earlier, most stores are always running sales. I do a quick calculation to see if the item is worth buying or waiting. I like to keep clothing around $3 or less a piece and sleepers $4-5 a piece depending on the brand. Right now, sleepers are about $8 each on sale because we are coming into the cooler months. In the spring, I bought sleepers for $4-$5 each at BabiesRUs!

And that is how I save a ton of money and time while getting the best deals on clothing that is going to last for the babe and future babes!

 

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Homemade Chapstick for your Winter Lips

I haven’t written a blog in a coon’s age or so.

With the holidays, my business, and traveling home last month over (makes me tired typing it), we are finally back to our normal routine! One of my goals for this year is to continue our journey to get rid of most chemicals in the house including hygiene items. Don’t worry I will be replacing them with homemade ones:) Thus far, the list includes laundry soap, multi-purpose cleaner, dusting spray, Windex, Febreze, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, astringent, and this wonderful recipe!

Here is one of my favorites: Homemade Chapstick

 Adapted from A Sonoma Garden

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Ingredients

 1 1/2 tsp. Beeswax
1 7/8 tsp. Coconut Oil
1 1/8 tsp. Cocoa Butter
3 tsp. olive oil
3 capsules Vitamin E
7 empty chapstick tubes

I cut the recipe in half today, because I only had 3 chapstick tubes. I tend to lose all my chapstick on a routine basis. It becomes quite the emergency. I cleaned out the used tubes with a chopstick and away I went. IMG_0432

*You can add essential oil to flavor the chapstick. I added about 5 drops of peppermint oil.*

Directions

Chop up solid ingredients.

IMG_0419 Melt all ingredients except the vitamin E and essential oil in a double boiler (or microwave). I made my own with a Pyrex and sauce pan.

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Remove from heat and add vitamin E and essential oil. Pour slowly into chapstick tubes.

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Yes, it is that easy and ohh so wonderful on your lips!

Dusting Spray Alternatives

We were getting low on the dusting spray in a can and I was starting to think about coupons. I priced all the brands at the commissary and PX and found the cheapest one. I then found the highest value coupons for that brand, but I was torn. (Yes, over dusting spray in a can…love me)

Do you ever find yourself asking, “Do we really NEED this item?”. I find myself questioning this all the time.¬† It takes time to price all the items, calculate the price per unit, figure out the sale pattern, and then clip the coupons. Not to mention if you are attempting to be conscious of the environment and your health. Toxins in a can do not scream earth friendly.

If you live or have lived in South Korea, you know how bad the dust gets and we have a shedding creature to add in the mix. I could dust our apartment everyday. So, one day I did some experimenting.

Alternative #1

I grabbed a small dish cloth and wet it. Not dripping wet though.

I started with our always dirty coffee table.

Wiped it clean. You may have to rinse the dish cloth now and then.

I finished the job by going over the clean table with a dry cloth.

And a second later the clean table is dirty again:) There could be worse things.

Neil was kind enough to let me throw in some new dish cloths in the shopping cart the other day. The old grungy looking ones will now make a great dusting/drying cloth.

Once you are finished dusting the house, throw the dirty cloths into the laundry to be washed with your homemade laundry detergent. I love that I did not have to clip any coupons, find any deals, or worry about the toxic chemicals in those cans.

Alternative #2

I could vacuum the floor everyday just like I could dust. With that being the case, I have the vacuum out on a regular basis making this alternative a breeze.

Secure your brush attachment onto the hose of your vacuum and dust away!

This is a quick and easy way to dust your house while you are using the vacuum anyways. If you are wanting a deep clean, I would suggest using Alternative #1.

That is it! Two super easy, affordable, and environment friendly options for dusting.

Leave the yellow aerosol can behind.

Pre-Vacation Mumbo-Jumbo

Whew. Who knew that getting ready for vacation was so exhausting? All you wives out there know what I am talking about. I have a million things racing through my mind. This morning, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. It was nuts, but I am thankful I got so much done. I can now sit,¬†breathe, and wait for¬†Neil to get home to give him his honey-do list:) -Which is only take out the trash and food…men have a rough life I tell ya.-

Our kitchen was very busy this week. We had the Maple Bear teachers over on Monday night and I made two lasagnas, garlic bread, and two apple pies. On Tuesday, I made pulled pork and baked macaroni and cheese for our friends who recently had the cutest little boy. I made lasagna, garlic bread, and chocolate graham crackers for another family at church who just had a little girl. This morning, I made another lasagna for another woman who just had a baby! So, I can say that I have streamlined the lasagna making process. Thank heavens for a noodle maker.

I stopped by the PX today to pick up a few last minute travel items and see if their makeup was still on sale. It was on sale, so I bought a few mascaras to stock up. Normally, I buy Mabeline and it is around $7-8 a tube (shaking my head in disbelief). I ended up getting four tubes of Covergirl mascara for $1.25 a piece (smiling inside). I also purchased two things of eyeshadow for $0.19 each. When I went to checkout the eyeshadow rang up at the normal price. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened or how many times cashiers have rang my items up wrong. The man was really nice and fixed it, but when I got outside I double checked the receipt and he charged me for three instead of the two. So, it really is worth the effort to watch the cashier ring up your items and to double check your receipt.

This is my PB&J sandwich from earlier. Can you tell there is no rhythm or reason to this post yet? I was pretty excited about this particular sandwich. Our friends recently bought a KitchenAid standing mixer and have been making homemade honey wheat bread. Yum. This is one of the healthiest PB&J sandwiches I have ever had. Homemade bread, real peanut butter, and organic grape jelly.

This is our bored and freshly bathed dog. He likes to lay right beside me when I sit on the floor. I am going to miss him while we are gone.

I think that is about it for now. Please keep us in your prayers as we travel around this weekend and for a smooth trip. We are really looking forward to it.

Living on a Budget

Neil and I balanced our budget for August last night. We are excited to say that this will be month number two that we have lived within our means. When we were married over a year ago, we both agreed that we wanted to have a monthly budget and to really live within it. It has taken us over a year to hammer out a budget that we both could agree on and live by.

You hear all the time that money can cause so many problems in a marriage and we did not want that to be a part of our marriage. We both have different views of money and it has taken us a little while to get it all figure out. Having different beliefs about money is not bad. Neil helps balance out my frugal ways and I help him be more of a saver.  I recently read a great article on the issue of money for newlyweds. You can read it here: http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/08/qa-tuesday-how-can-we-improve-communication-about-finances-in-our-marriage.html

Living by a budget is less than fun most of the time, but I cannot express the feeling of knowing we lived within our means for that month. It takes a lot of work, self-discipline, and communication to make a budget successful.

There are so many ways to balance a budget and you have to find what works for your family. Neil designed an amazing excel spreadsheet with his mad finance skills. I am in charge of inputting all the receipts (I am the lover of organization in the family). We sit down together about once a week and balance the budget. This is what works for us. We keep an envelope on the table in the living room where all the receipts go until they are put into the budget.

Budgets are not what I would call fun, but they are worth all the work!