Clothing wars

I have a 2.5-year-old little boy and a ten-month-old baby girl.
This means that our clothing budget needs to have money in it and that I need to have time to really shop, and three months from now do it all over again when Josh has destroyed his clothes and Livie grown out of hers.
Yes, please laugh at the idea of me having both time and money to clothes shop every few months.  I think it’s a hilarious concept, too, and one I can’t actually imagine.

Enter Ebay.

Where I can sit at home or in the car(since I have the awesome Ebay app on my phone) and type in exactly what I’m looking for.  Last week, I was looking for tunics, and I was able to find two t-shirt tunics that fit perfectly for around $4.99 plus $2.00 in shipping.   I also realized that Olivia needed a dress or two for the still-cold spring months, so I typed in girl dress long-sleeved 12 months.  Ten minutes later, I was the proud owner of a Laura Ashley dress, new with tags, for $1.99 plus $3 shipping, and a floral corduroy dress for $0.99 plus $2.50 in shipping.  Image Image

Then, since my children were still napping, I looked for the next two items on my list–a new pair of boots and some chunky necklaces and bracelets in brown.  By the end of the day, I had all four items on my list, for a grand total, including shipping, of around $28.
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And, by the way, these entire purchases were paid for by the sale of a lot of four pairs of jeans and three shirts that my son had outgrown.  I accomplished all of this while my children napped and I sipped my vanilla hazelnut coffee.

Sold yet?

If you haven’t used Ebay, it’s simple.  Go to ebay.com and sign up.  Make sure you have a paypal account, since it’s required to purchase or sell anything on Ebay.  Paypal has buyer protection, so if you buy an item and don’t receive it, you get your money back.  Once you have paypal set up and an account on ebay, you can start to purchase. Ebay itself will walk you through the process of buying and selling, so there is no need to do that here, but I have a few tips for you:

1) Watch the shipping price.  Most people are pretty reasonable, but there are some who charge exorbitant amounts for shipping.  There is no point in buying a $2.99 dress if you’re going to pay $12 in shipping when you can probably find a similar dress for less.

2) Unless you need something immediately, don’t purchase the first thing you see(unless, of course, it is the exact thing you’ve been searching forever for, then buy it!).  In order to buy something, it has to meet three criteria: I have to like it, I have to need it, and it has to be within a price range I’ve previously set.  Right now I’m looking for a maxi dress. Every 3-to-5 days, I go on ebay and type in “summer maxi dress size medium.”  So far, I haven’t found anything that met all three criteria.  There are enough items being continually posted on ebay that patience will pay off.  If you don’t really like something, don’t buy it just because it’s cheap–you won’t wear it. I keep a list  by my computer of upcoming needs that I’m aware of and use that to search on a regular basis.

3) Set a price range and search buy it.  Also, when you bid on something, you can bid the highest amount that you will pay and Ebay will automatically bid in increments.  This means that if an item is currently at $1 and you are willing to pay $5, bid $5. Ebay, however, will bid $1 for you, and if someone else comes along, the computer will automatically keep bidding against them on your behalf up to your limit. I have a policy that once I’ve bid that limit I won’t rebid, even if someone goes higher.  This keeps me from overspending and, honestly, there are so many items on Ebay that another one will come along.

4) Check out lots.  Lots are groups of clothing or other items; instead of selling them individually, the seller has decided to sell it as a group.  Children’s clothing is often sold in lots; I was recently able to buy 8 pairs of jeans, 5 shirts, 7 onesies and 3 dresses for my daughter for somewhere around $15.  Again, just watch the shipping on these, because there are more items sometimes sellers think they can overcharge for shipping.

Like everything else, Ebay is a tool.  You have to make it work for you.  For me, it works out great.  I’ve been able to get high quality clothing for little money without having to search through a store, and a week or so later it shows up on my doorstep.  Yes, there are downsides–it’s not immediately available like a store would be, so you do have to plan ahead, you can’t try things on(though most sellers will accept returns), and Ebay and paypal do have seller fees, though minimal.  

Ebay has allowed me to save both money and time, and, when you have two little kids running around and a full time job, that means everything.

How about you?  What are your tips to outfit your kids without breaking the bank and losing your mind?

This post is linked at http://trinaholden.com/2013/04/embracing-beauty-link-up-1/

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7 thoughts on “Clothing wars

  1. Awesome tips! I’ve used ebay some but I often forget about it. Love this reminder that it is a great place for clothes (especially when you know just what you like! 🙂

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