As every mom knows, there's little more frustrating than giving in to back-to-school clothing purchases that you know your kids don't really need. If yours are like mine, they'll promise, pledge and pinky-swear to care for the stuff while wearing it oh-so-often.
Then reality sets in. And the clothing finds its spot nestled at the bottom of the closet or crumbled in a drawer never to see daylight. Nobody meant for it to happen this way -- their intentions were good, but ultimately this fate is inevitable with 'tweens and teens.
Imagine now if your kids could get a wardrobe -- or at least a couple outfits -- that's new to them, without costing you a penny?
It's not a fantasy, thanks to consignment and exchange shops. If your kid is wearing junior or adult sizes, she (and you) are in luck for some cash-free shopping. This works for boys too.
Find a shop in your area that buys or trades gently worn clothing. (Buffalo Exchange has 36 shops nationwide. Use Google to find others in your area.) Typically they'll determine the resale value and then offer you 20 percent to 35 percent in cash or 35 percent to 50 percent in store credit.
Raid all the closets in your house. Stores typically take men's, women's and juniors. Call ahead to ask for the requirements. Get rid of anything that you're sure you'll never wear.
Inspect each item for rips, stains, missing or broken pieces. They'll be rejected, so don't bother. Popular mall brands and designer merchandise does well. Current or truly vintage styles trump last year's rejects. Classic looks never go out.
Load up the car with tons of stuff. Stores won't take everything, so bring plenty for them to pick from.
Once you're in the store and ready to shop, scour the racks for hidden gems. You can't do this in 10 minutes, so give yourself some time.
Another benefit: When you shop malls, everyone gets sucked into the latest trends and fads, even if they're not suited to your style or budget. But with consignment shops, it's all about what they love and what fits -- all at a price you can't beat.
If you hit the shops, let me know what you score and save!