Pregnant women have it easy. They might not know their child’s gender, but at least they know they’re giving birth to a newborn that will wear itty bitty clothing and use itty bitty things. Foster parents sometimes have that same nesting feeling pregnant women have, but when we shop for future children, it isn’t just gender but age and size that’s up in the air. These tips and tricks will help you save money and get organized.
Tips for Saving Money
Tip #1: See if you have a local foster care clothing closet. Some churches have a closet where members donate items, fill a spare closet or room with the goods, and foster parents can come and take what they need for free when they receive a placement. There are also nonprofit organizations that run foster care clothing closets. Click here for a list of nonprofit clothing closets in the US.
Tip #2: Go to garage sales. Little kids grow like weeds, and they’ll grow out of clothing so quickly that there will be outfits hidden in the bottom of the dresser you never get to use before they’re on to the next size. Especially with baby clothing, it is usually in mint condition because babies don’t really do much of anything (same with baby shoes- cute but seriously, what’s the point when they can’t even roll over?). The main reason I frequent garage sales is because full price clothing is so darn expensive when they’re only going to wear something for a couple months before outgrowing it. When I find something that’s ridiculously cute and ridiculously cheap at a garage sale, I’ll get it. I’ve been to quite a few sales that will sell really nice clothing (sometimes with tags still on) for a quarter a piece. I can afford to add to my “just in case” bin for that price.
95% of my son’s clothing came from a garage sale. In the summer when the sales are going, I’ll stock up on what he’ll need through the winter. I only buy items in excellent condition, and the average amount I’ll spend on an single item of clothing is around 50 cents.
Tip #3: Go thrift shopping. This follows the same principle as going to garage sales, but it’s a good option in the winter when no one wants to sit out in their yard and freeze. Additionally, a couple of our local thrift stores have free rooms. As you can imagine, it’s usually all crap. But occasionally you’ll come across something worthwhile or children’s clothing that will do in a pinch, and it never hurts to check.
Tip #4: Use those $10 promotions. Kohl’s and Herberger’s both have regular promotions of $10 off a purchase of $10 or more. I signed up for Kohl’s mailing list, and I receive one of these coupons in the mail several times a year. If I don’t need anything in particular, I like to find something kid related that’s as close to $10 as possible (generic items you know you’ll eventually have to buy new are my go to: tooth brushes, pacifiers, pillows, bottles, hair accessories, etc). If we’re in need of a kid gift (a birthday party we’re attending or a holiday present for my own kids), I’ll pull out the box and see what I can use.
Tip #5: Clear-out sales are your friend. If you haven’t noticed, the vast majority of my strategy for saving money is planning ahead. When the Christmas items are 80% off, that’s when I’m buying my Christmas gifts and wrapping paper for next year. When summer clothing is being replaced by fall sweaters and long pants, that’s when I’m getting a size up in kid’s shorts and t-shirts for when the snow disappears again.
It’s not rocket science. It’s good old-fashioned planning ahead. When you’re able to stock up over the course of a few months by shopping the deals, then you won’t have to pay full-price for the last minute things you’ll need. Then when you have an assortment of extra clothing and accessories, the organization piece comes into play.
Organization Trick #1: Get yourself some bins.
The past couple days my mom and I have been organizing my basement and putting kid’s stuff into labelled bins. It’ll make everything soooo much easier when I accept a placement and all I have to do is grab the right bin and fill the dresser.
Each clothing bin is labelled by size and gender
This bin is girls’ clothing 0-6 months. So I don’t have to sort through the whole bin to find the right size, I have a piece of cardboard dividing 0-3 and 6 month old items.
I have separate bins for shoes, toys, bottles, and an area in the basement for large baby equipment like a Rock ‘n Play and baby swing.
This bin contains miscellaneous baby items for both genders. I have small baby toys, blankets, bibs, spit up rags, a baby monitor, and bath and health kits.
My diaper bin stores my cloth diapers (click here to read about how to cloth diaper and save huge) and any disposable diapers left over from prior children.
Organizational Tip #2: Mark your clothes with a dot. We’ve picked up a kid with nothing to his name but the onesie he was wearing, and we’ve also had a parent drop off a giant duffel bag of clothes for us to use on their child. It’s easy to keep track of one article of clothing, but when there’s a lot of stuff, I get really afraid that after a few months I’ll forget what’s mine and what’s theirs. I would feel terrible if I accidentally kept something that was suppose to go back home with the child.
At first I tried to keep my clothes and the child’s clothes in separate hampers and put them in separate drawers of the dresser to keep them apart. It was too confusing and a bit of a headache, so I asked for advice. Someone told me they marked the foster child’s clothes with a tiny dot of permanent marker on the tag to keep track. I liked the idea, but I modified it a little so my clothes would have the dot. I want to keep the child’s clothes as nice as possible, even if it is a small mark.