This week finds me getting together a bunch of baby clothes and toys that my son has outgrown. I’m going to sell them at a local consignment sale. These types of sales have gained popularity recently with our area having 5 or 6 different sales throughout the year. Childrens’ consignment sales are great, whether you are buying or selling. Unlike garage sales, you are guaranteed to find a large amount of merchandise in one place. Plus, it is common for the sales to have a discount day on the final day where most items are 25% to 50% off the low consignment price.
Buying used clothes and other items is one way I’ve managed to keep to a more cost conscious lifestyle while raising my son. Babies (much like weddings) bring out the worst of consumerism and materialism in our modern society. The unending list of crap that retailers have convinced you that you need to have is, in my mind, akin to fraud. From wipes warmers (with anti-microbial technology because you don’t want any germs on the cloth that you are using to wipe up excrement) to a $200 video monitor system with a pan/tilt/zoom camera (because heaven forbid you walk up a flight of stairs to actually look at your child in person). These products are unnecessary and wasteful. They are wasteful from a financial perspective because you shouldn’t be spending money on them. And they are wasteful from an environmental perspective because all of the packaging associated with these items as well as the (mostly plastic) items themselves will end up in landfills and will probably be there for your kids’ kids to worry about.
This is why shopping on Craigslist, consignment sales, and garage sales will keep you floating smoothly down the Green Money Stream. Particularly when it comes to items for babies that are only used for a short time, buying used works beautifully. The key is to buy used items as well as be selective in what you need to buy (step away from the wipes warmer!). I bought a lot of used items before my son was born and since that time. I still have the glider we bought for $25 off of Craigslist. I read to my son in it every night. You can easily save 80% to 90% on clothing and other baby items by buying used. For larger items, like swings and bassinets, you can save 50% to 70% by buying second hand. But don’t forget that the savings are even greater when you factor in that you will likely be selling it yourself when finished. I bought an infant cradle swing from someone on Craigslist for $40 (batteries included). The swing is $150 new. My son did use this one a lot in his first 6 months. I sold it last year to someone for $25. So I really paid only $15 for the use of the swing over 6 months. Totally worth it for me. $150? I never would have paid that and there is no need to. I did the same thing with most of his items, including cloth diapers, and it has worked out great.
Like other momentous occasions in life, it is easy to get caught up in the emotions of the moment and end up spending money on things you don’t really need. Most of the baby and wedding product industry are counting on that to be the case. I’m always impressed at how the manufacturers of these items have created genius ways to make us buy more stuff. Like with baby swings. Instead of selling a neutral colored $150 baby swing they make it in blue and pink too. So what is happening? Do couples buy a pink one for their daughter and then when a son is born two years later they have to buy a blue one? (Because you couldn’t damage the poor boy’s growing self image by surrounding him in pink.) We have become a society that does not even re-use such items in one’s own family. To me, this does not bode well for the future of our society and just pushes us further down that road of buying everything new, of poor quality so that it is unusable in a short time and we have to buy another. This is where Principle 1 of my Key Principles is important (Resist Lifestyle Inflation). What your children really need is a safe, comfortable environment with loving parents who spend time with them. They don’t need Pottery Barn bedroom sets. By living your life in a more financially conscious way you give your kids something that could never be bought in a store. You give them a life long lesson in how to be independent thinkers and decide for themselves what is important and necessary for their lives, rather than letting the massive bull horn of consumption dictate this to them. You set your kids on a less traveled path, down the Green Money Stream.
These websites allow you to search for consignment sales in your area: