My Favorite Way to Save $$$ as a Mom-to-Be

Having babies is expensive. Yes, there are a lot of ways to cut down on the cost of a new baby:  Accepting hand-me-downs, choosing the store brand, taking advantage of the MANY coupons out there for baby gear. One of my favorite ways to save is by shopping consignment for baby clothes!

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I started thrifting when I moved to Pittsburgh and had better options for finding great deals on women’s clothing. Some of my favorite jewelry was picked off of a yard sale table, and I once found a Kate Spade bangle at a thrift store for .50 cents.

Soon after I found out I was pregnant, I decided to pop into Once Upon a Child to see what they were really all about. I’m a little bit picky about what I want to dress my kids in. I have a style in mind that CERTAINLY will not line up with what they want when they get older, which means I have a limited amount of time to make that style happen. I don’t love children’s clothes that highlight looks. “Handsome Like Daddy” or “Pretty Like Mommy”… or worse “Tough Like Daddy” and “Cute Like Mommy” aren’t really things I want advertised on my kids’ shirts. I did buy a “Future President” onesie long before we knew the gender.

Because I was so excited to pick out clothes for the baby, we asked shower guests to focus more on building baby’s bookshelf than their wardrobe, which left most of the clothes shopping to me. That can get REALLY expensive considering this incredibly adorable OshKosh outfit is $40 and will probably fit for about three months.

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After finding out I was pregnant, I decided to pop in and see what Once Upon a Child had to offer. Once Upon a Child, as well as other national chains like Kid to Kid and some local names, pay for new or gently used children’s clothing and gear to resale. Think of it as Plato’s Closet, the infant addition. You can make a little bit of money from old items you’re not using anymore as a seller, and get “like new” items for a fraction of the price as a buyer.

I managed to walk out of Once Upon a Child empty handed the first time, but I’ve been back MANY times since and have tried to stop into as many children’s consignment stores and consignment events as my pregnancy has progressed.

Why do I love shopping children’s consignment so much? Here is why:

I love to shop, but I hate to overspend.

SO MANY of the clothing items on the shelf at Once Upon a Child still have the tag on them. Many people sell clothes that they got at their shower and couldn’t return or simply never get around to putting the baby in that cute outfit from aunt Sandra. I’ve bought outfits with the tags still on them one day and seen the SAME OUTFIT still full-price at Carter’s the next day. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Used products must hit certain qualifications.

Once Upon a Child asks that items be freshly washed, free of stains and over-wear, meet current safety standards and have been purchased within the last five years.The mention of safety standards is incredibly important – it means that you should NOT find items that have been recalled in their stores.

Most consignment stores have a certain list of qualifications that products need to meet in order to be purchased and resold.

The lifespan of children’s clothing is incredibly short.

Kids grow. Did you know that? And they grow PRETTY DARN QUICKLY. That means that, on average, a baby will wear a certain size of clothing for… 3 months? Sure, their clothes will get a decent amount of shady substances on them during this time, but, all-in-all, it’s easy to end up with a ton of barely-used clothing every few months. Consignment stores help families get relatively new clothing without spending a fortune AND get a little bit of money out of products they won’t use anymore.

Big box stores carry all of the same brands.

I feel like even gas stations sell Carter’s baby clothing now. Whether I’m at Kohl’s, Target, Macy’s, etc. I feel like I see ALL of the same outfits. Consignment stores give you a little bit of variety as people resell clothing from all over. I got a Kickee Pants take home outfit (retail $41) for $5! Plenty of high-end brands pop up here.

The deals are too good to pass up.

The typical consignment item costs somewhere between $1.50 and $20 – $1.50 (or less) being the price of a onesie and $20 being the price of outerwear. I am pretty sure I’ve never spent more than $10 on an item at a consignment store or sale. Once Upon a Child has semi-annual dollar sales, where a ton of items go on sale for a dollar and others are steeply discounted… on top of already being steeply discounted. We ended up getting MOST of Maxon’s clothes during one of these sales, where we left with two garbage bags full of clothing for under $75.

Basically, consignment sales are a parent-to-be’s dream, as long as you have the patience to look for some really good items. Here are some of my top consignment tips:

  • Look for stains and holes. The store IS supposed to do this, but they sometimes get by them, and it’s up to you to know what you’re purchasing
  • Don’t even stop by a children’s consignment store if you don’t have time to browse. Often gems are found in the wrong places or hidden between bulkier items. I regularly spend at least an hour shopping, even if I’m just going through 5 sizes in boys’ clothing. And yes, I sit on the floor to reach the bottom racks. Those suckers are FILLED with goodies
  • Have what you want in mind… or you’ll buy the entire store. Go in knowing that you don’t need any more 0-3 onesies NO MATTER how cute they are
  • Look for original tags. New is awesome!

Have I convinced you to go used or go home? If so, here are some stores and events to check out in the Pittsburgh area:

Happy saving!

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