How to buy ahead for NEXT year (and make it fit within your budget).

How to buy ahead for NEXT year, and fit it into your budget - from

Howdy! Sorry (yet again) for all the crickets over here. The kids and I decided to take one last spontaneous trip back home to Oregon to visit my folks for Labor Day. Sure, my daughter is missing her first 5 days of preschool (first day of school, whaaaaaa?) but with Daddy being gone for work it's been a hard summer and we all deserve one last hurrah (especially before baby girl comes in 13 weeks).

As we've been enjoying some Mimi & Grandpa time here in good ol' The Dalles, Oregon (yes, THE Dalles. Random, I know…), I'm reminded of a few things that I wanted to remind YOU all of:

  • Right now is the time to use your “other budget” to stock up on fun summer items for NEXT summer, and even the time to start buying ahead for Christmas, birthdays, and back-to-school next year,


  • You really don't need to spend money to have fun (see tomorrow's post for more on this).

Here's the background on this first seemingly “um…duh” tip.

Sometimes when we go shopping it's hard to focus on anything other than what we need RIGHT NOW. Whether it's because our budget is tight enough that it doesn't allow for much wiggle room, or because our brains can only concentrate on 1,000 things at a time instead of 1,001…sometimes it's hard to plan ahead. But I want to remind/challenge you over the next few weeks to do your best to concentrate on buying AHEAD, and by doing so, it will not only make your life easier, but will save you loads of money in the long run!=

For example, the Summer clearance right now is AWESOME (especially with Labor Day just around the corner)! If you can squeeze in a swimsuit here, a pool floatie there, equipment or an accessory for your boat or what-not, it will save you a ton of money come next summer when you end up needing those things. But it doesn't have to stop with Summer clearance. If you start looking at good clearance and sales you could stock up for Christmas, birthdays, and even back-to-school next year.

A few things to note and words of warning about shopping ahead though:

  • Remember to follow my tips for shopping sales. Most importantly, when you go to a store (even a grocery store) head straight to the BACK where clearance usually is (or in a grocery store, go to the “seasonal” isle) and start there before even getting distracted by the full-priced stuff.
  • ONLY go shopping when you have a purpose in mind. It might be a general purpose such as “I want to go to Target to see what pool toys they have on clearance”, rather than a perfectly defined, “I want to to go Target to get 2 pool noodles, an orange flag for the boat, and and pink polkadot rash guard for Suzie…”. However you do it, make a plan and choose your store(s) BEFORE going. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Don't shop aimlessly. If you have a spare 30 minutes, don't wander into a store with the plan to “see what I can find”. You WILL end up spending money that you don't need to spend.
  • If you won't need it within 12 months, don't buy it. No matter how good the deal is.
  • Plan ahead size-wise. This may seem like a no-brainer, but do the math and think ahead. Estimate as best you can the sizes you'll need for next summer and buy those – NOT the sizes that fit your kids right now.
  • If it doesn't fit within your budget, don't buy it. This is precisely why I have $65/week for my “other” budget – to cover the non-grocery expenses that come up. Right now is an expensive time of year with back-to-school and all. But the other day I was at Kmart and saw a rash guard for Hutch that was only $2, and it will fit him great next year. So yes, I grabbed it. I will just take $2 out of my grocery budget this week if I need to, and will stretch my leftovers longer or will use food that I have in my freezer to allow for the extra “other” expenses.
  • It may seem like it's costing you more, but stocking up will actually save you TONS in the long run (as long as you're smart about it). Though you're using up much of your “other” or even “grocery” budget this week for NEXT year's summer stuff (or Christmas gifts if you find killer deals on stuff your kids want for Christmas…), think of how nice it will be to space out those expenses throughout the year.

How to buy ahead for NEXT year, and fit it into your budget - from

I often get asked, “how can we afford to save up for ___ (a vacation…a new car…a house…new clothes for my kids…) when our budget is so tight as it is?” My answer?


You can't expect to do it all at once. Buy an item here. An item there. A thingie here. A thingie there. Space it out, and when the time comes when you actually need it (like school supplies, Christmas gifts, clothes for next year, etc.) your shopping will already be done so you can use your budget that month to put toward saving up for bigger and better things! You can't expect to eat an elephant any other way than one bite at a time, after all. But of course, remember to always abide by the 3-Month Rule for larger purchases.

It's not about making or finding MORE money, it's about being smart about the money you DO have.

Trust me, if you're always searching for more money, the money you find will never be enough. You must learn to do well with what you HAVE, rather than use the “not enough” excuse.

Ok, stepping off my soap box now. Hope this was a quick reminder to be thinking ahead. Living too much in the NOW will only keep you treading water in the same place. Being a forward thinker will propel you just like that – FORWARD.

Happy Deal-Hunting!!



  1. AvatarAngela says

    I only buy my sleepers for my girls on clearance. I usually get Children’s Place because they hold up so well. They almost always have clearance going on and since it’s just sleepers and they don’t wear them out in public (usually) I don’t care what they have on them. For example, my oldest went to bed in pajamas that have penguins on them. She’s got some for her next size that are from Valentine’s Day clearance. You can get them for $5 or less when you don’t care what the pattern is. She certainly doesn’t.

  2. AvatarJan says

    A word of caution on buying ahead. You are entering the time when your kids will have more of an opinion on what they want for gifts and clothes. When my kids were small like yours, I enjoyed your method above and it worked great…until my oldest got to be about your oldest’s age and wanted specific things at Christmas and I had already bought stuff ahead. There was very little warning that first year and I still have stuff stashed that I haven’t found the right recipient for yet since I didn’t want to over give to him that year. The same went for clothes. Overnight my son had an opinion on what shirts he wanted to wear and the wonderful clearance items went untouched, sent to consignment with tags. He just wore the same few shirts every week. This was not associated with being in preschool, but rather a normal development of autonomy that I believe in encouraging within our family bounds. (My kids are not spoiled and hear various forms of “no” for most of their requests.)

    So I wholeheartedly endorse your methods for the very littlest that you make all the decisions for, but preschoolers begin to have their own wants and opinions and I feel it’s important to let them express them and fulfill them as we can and see fit. I could’ve held my ground and given him gifts I had purchased but I knew by then he had changed and they would not have been played with much, wasting money in the long run. A few things I’ve been able to pull out for my youngest, but not much. And with her, I learned my lesson. I wait until the holiday to see what she’s interested in now that she’s reaching that age and the gifts and clothes have been more suited to their current development and therefore used better/more.

    I simply have gifts and travel figured into our monthly budget, whether we need gifts or travel that month of not. The not used portion just gets rolled over. I keep track of my budget allowances in a spreadsheet, similar to your many bank accounts, but all on one sheet with certain amounts allocated. A quick scroll tells me everything I need to know for where I stand in my budget.
    I started following you after the mom conference and have enjoyed your blog, getting some new ideas. One of my favorite money savers is microfiber cloths for cleaning (I use the flylady ones) and cloth napkins (washcloths for kids since the size suits them). A big pack of paper towels lasts me over two years and I have not bought napkins in three years except party themed ones for the kids…I have a stack of paper napkins available for guests or certain messes I want to throw away but most are extra Subway napkins. 😉 and I have to concentrate to work down the pile when it gets big. I have not opened a package in years! My kids automatically reach for the washcloth basket when they need one. Sorry for the long comment… 🙂

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