Only the Thrifty Survive

Twenty dollars. One bag. No time limit.

This is the slogan I am going to use when I pitch my newest reality show to the major t.v. networks. The concept: Baby Store Sales: Does your mom have what it takes?

Moms know that scoping out good bargains is an essential skill for a growing family. So when you know of a day of mega-deals is coming your way, you start prepping yourself mentally for the upcoming chaos.

Recently I hit up a local children's consignment shop that held a pretty awesome sale. In an effort to clear out their fall and winter clothing inventory, you could pay $20 for a shopping bag and walk out with whatever you could fit inside. And since you could fit an entire week's worth of outfits for a 3-month-old in a clutch purse when rolled properly, I knew I could do some serious damage to those clothing racks.

I showed up 15 minutes before the doors opened. Rookie mistake. I made my way to the back of the line.

In front of me where many women with their children either hanging from a Moby or sitting in their strollers. At first I wondered why on earth someone would bring their children along on that morning. The crowd was overwhelming for an adult, I can't imagine the panic it would cause a toddler. Once inside, I understood just how brilliant these women were. They used their strollers to plow their way through crowded aisles. Older children were instructed to stand Red-Rover style and act as barricades to block off a section their mom was ransacking. No one would dare to nudge an elbow into a women strapped with a Baby Bjorn.

If you ever want to see a group of grown women pounce like hungry lions on a wounded gazelle, just look for a bin labeled "$5 or less." Moms can get pretty vicious when it comes to shopping for their children. Shopping in these conditions requires a certain combination of finesse and aggressiveness.

Some moms used the strategy of just grabbing everything in sight and then plopping down in a corner to pick through and decide what items they actually wanted. I find this to be terribly obnoxious and would rather keep moving. So here are my tips for surviving on season one of "So You Think You're a Frugal Mom?"

- Know what your priorities are. Keep in mind that the best deals are usually on limited quantity items, so go get your favorites first and save the browsing for last.

- Make a mental map. You don't have to go all Mission-Impossible and create a 3-D blueprint to memorize the lay-out of the entire store, but at least know where your child's sizes are located and any other items you will want to beeline toward.

- Don't get pushy. We all have seen the news stories about parents who get into a fist-fight over the last remaining Awesome Amanda doll. If there is only one 3T left in that jacket you wanted for your kid, and some other lady already has a grip on it, just let it go. It's not worth the drama of a mom-on-mom shoving match just to save a couple bucks.

- Don't convince yourself you need something because it's cheap. Just because things are on sale doesn't mean you can't overspend. You should have the same budget you would if the store was priced as usual.

- Beware of why things are on sale. Sometimes, the lower the price indicates the more damaged the item. If you are handy with a needle and thread, then that rip in the pocket isn't a big deal. But if there is something wrong with your desired purchase that cannot be easily fixed, don't waste your money (even if it is only $1.50.)

CeCe's wardrobe substantially increased when I left that sale, and so did my understanding of how to get the most for my money (and time) at these events. So shop smart and shop strategically Mama's. See you at the next sale.

1 comment:

  1. As a mom of three boys and with two unemployed parents I know how to shop on a budget. I've found that my local consignment stores are not worth the hassle. I can find cheaper brand new items at my local Kohl's, Old Navy and JC Penney if I shop with a little planning and a storage bin.

    I buy all my clothes one full season in advanced. (If not more.) My kids winter shirts for next season were purchased in Jan. I maintain a rubbermade tote for each child that I stock up on cloths with throughout the year. I won't pay more then 1.97 for a shirt or 6.97 for blue jeans and that is before I use the additional coupons and in store savings.
    That means instead of fighting of a used 10 pair of Children's Center Jeans I have three brand new pairs of jeans from JCP for my 6 year old and a fun graphic tee for my $9.98. You'd be surprised the deals you find in store and online at your local "higher-end" department store.

    I found your blog on Mom Blogs "hot new blogs." I am the designer of my mother's blog. She blogs about raising 12 kids plus has fun features a Friday Freebie and a cost effective recipe in her Food for Thought Thursdays. I'd like to invite you to come check out her blog and enter our Easter basket give away. It is a low entry contest.