**This is a sponsored post on behalf of Goodwill® Monocacy Valley. All opinions are my own.**
Back to school season is officially upon us.
In fact, if you’re like me and you’re still in denial that summer is coming to an unfortunate end, you probably also haven’t hit up the local big box store to stock up on all of the paper and pencils and 3-prong folders on your child’s list. Which means, you probably don’t know that you’re a bit behind the curve ball on this one (you guys, moms have been buying school supplies since like June!) and, you may have pretty slim pickings when you finally get the energy to go handle that.
But, let’s say you’re more proactive than I am and you already have all of the paper, pencils and glue sticks your kid could need in a school year, they still might be in need of some new gear. And, every parent who has ever parented knows that that’s where the real expenses come in. You can quickly rack up a hefty bill buying new shoes because the ones from last year are suddenly two sizes too small, and new pants because the ones from last fall are 4 inches too short, and don’t forget the new backpack to cart all of those shiny new supplies around in.
I am the proud mom to a couple of teen boys and a ten-year-old boy who is about the size of a 7th grader. Since they seem to grow out of their shoes while they sleep, finding ways to save money is kind of a big deal.
I’ve never been much of a second-hand shopper. I’m super particular about clothing and finding things that are flattering to my unique shape is challenging. But, I am always game to try things that will save me money, and a trip to Goodwill Industries® seemed like a no-brainer way to make that happen.
One day last week, I ditched the kids and headed to the Goodwill® store in Frederick with a $20 bill and 30 minutes to kill. While I didn’t come away with a bag bursting with goodies, I did learn quite a bit on my first ever Goodwill® shopping trip and I think every savings obsessed, not made of money mom needs to know before they take their first Goodwill shopping adventure.
A First-Timer’s Goodwill Shopping Guide: How to Save Money on Kids’ Clothes
Make a list.
It helps limit impulse buying, making it the easiest way to save money no matter where you’re shopping, and that 100% includes Goodwill shopping.
The thing about Goodwill shopping though is that all of the deals are good deals –the entire time I was in the store I don’t think I saw a piece of clothing that was selling for more than $5. In that situation, without a list, it would be easy to fall victim to impulse buys if you’re not committed to sticking to a strict list. Otherwise, you might find yourself leaving with no school clothes, only enough money to buy yourself a sweet tea from McDonald’s, and a console table you didn’t know you needed until you saw it. Go ahead, ask me how I know this.
Pro tip: Set a time limit on your Goodwill shopping trip and go in with a focused list, that way you won’t be tempted to browse the furniture section or peruse the books.
Manage your expectations.
For many shoppers, Goodwill is not going to be the place to go for everything or every person on your shopping list. What it can be, however, is an affordable and reasonable choice for certain types of things. I discovered that sports shoes for kids were quite plentiful and in good condition at the store when I stopped in. If your kids need soccer cleats, for example, or are taking a dance class this fall, then Goodwill should really be one of your first stops, especially if your kid is a beginner who may not stick to this new activity long term.
Your kid may be a chronic tryer – hopping from activity to activity before he finds one he loves – so check Goodwill first for gently-used equipment to save you some money. Because the inventory is always changing, you never know what gems you’re going to stumble across or when. If you really want to get your son a new coat for this winter and you (or he) are particular about what you buy, it may take several visits to the store before you find one in the style, condition, and size you want. Totally worth it since you’re likely to enjoy a huge savings over what it would otherwise retail for.
Go often and buy quickly.
Daily if you want. Thousands of items enter Goodwill stores each day and just as many fly right back out. The only way to really get the best stuff is to visit often and buy quickly.
Did you know you can do a lot of your Goodwill shopping online? For sports fans, it’s a great place to snag your favorite team’s authentic sports apparel without even leaving home. Goodwill’s online store front, is full of great finds.
Which means, you don’t need to waste gas, you don’t need to waste time, heck, you don’t even need to put on pants! It’s seriously the most efficient and economical way to get affordable, high quality athletic apparel for your sports-obsessed kids.
Pro tip: Shop Goodwill Online actually has a ton of cool, vintage, collectible, higher dollar items on it in an eBay-like auction setup. You can bid on items found at Goodwill centers all across the nation making it easy to support an important nonprofit that provides job training to people in your community while also outfitting your life with things you enjoy in a more affordable manner. Uh, that’s what we call a win/win!