My July 14 Parenting Perpsectives column …
Mom’s on a mission for baby bargains
My mom taught me to be frugal by clipping coupons and shopping at the Nearly Nu thrift store. I once watched her successfully bargain with a department store clerk to get the previous week’s sale price on a pair of shoes.
But living in a rural community, she didn’t have access to a parent’s best budget saver: garage sale season.
I’d barely announced my pregnancy when my mommy friends insisted we go rummage sale-ing. It was autumn, and my baby was due in March. They didn’t want me to miss my chance.
My tummy wasn’t bulging yet, but after a couple of outings, the bags of baby clothes were.
Since then, I’ve primarily outfitted my daughter in barely worn, secondhand clothes. And I’ve turned into an MGS – a Mommy Garage Saler.
Like any other MGS, I’m on a mission. I only hit sales that advertise baby items. I’ve got no time for your used vinyl records or building a doily collection.
I clearly remember the first baby item I bought at a rummage sale. It was an olive green and red romper from Baby Gap, size 0-3 months, perfect for the baby boy I thought I would have. My first mistake, I learned months later when my daughter Eve arrived.
My second mistake? It cost $3. Too much, I now realize.
Sure, it sounds like a steal. Brand-new it was probably $25 or more.
But rummaging has taught me there’s no need to pay retail, half-price or even the price written on a piece of masking tape.
With experience, I’ve established price limits for baby clothes: $1 for a sleeper, 50 cents for a shirt, $2 for an outfit or a dress.
I’ll often haggle to pay what I want. It’s easier to do when you buy several items.
My stringent pricing has spoiled me for department stores. I regularly get sticker shock as I peruse the clearance racks.
A halter dress marked down 40 percent at Gymboree still costs about $19. I wouldn’t pay much more than that for a dress for myself, and this one contains about a tenth of the fabric.
As a result, I’ve passed up a lot of adorable outfits – in stores and garages – but it has saved our family budget. And I have bags of clothes, all the way up to size 5T, waiting to be worn.
I know my bargain fashions won’t please Eve forever. I loathed going to the Nearly Nu with my mom when I hit my early teens. I’m sure at some point Eve will refuse to wear clothes that have somebody else’s initials written on the tags.
Hopefully, though, I can pass along the frugal ways I learned from my mom, even if I don’t see myself haggling at West Acres any time soon.
Sherri Richards is mother of a 16-month-old daughter and employee of The Forum. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com