'Trust me,' these tips will save you money on kids' clothes

That’s my Story is written by AJC managing editor Monica Richardson, a relatively new mother. She adopted her daughter, now 4, two years ago from the Texas Foster Care System. She was 43 when she got a 2-year-old and was scared as hell.

$129. 26 cash money. $74.54 cash money. $50 store credit. 3 discount stamps. Score! Fist Pump! Dancing mommy emoji! Whoot, whoot! Go mommy, it’s yo’ birthday!

The last few times I made a sale at my favorite consignment store I was oh so proud. If you ask me, I’ve figured out the trick to increasing the value of kid’s consignment. Some of the tricks are so simple it’s ridiculous.

First, a confession, I spend entirely too much money on clothing and shoes for my daughter. I have a just-turned 4-year-old who wears a size 6 overall for height (all legs), her torso is a 5T and her waist and bottom are a 4T. I buy everything dirt cheap but, I admit, it’s still way too much. My child skips sizes, especially her feet. It’s like the food she eats travels directly to her feet I swear. She skipped size 9 shoe completely and was in a size 10 for maybe three months. One of my supermom girlfriends once told me she had her daughter wearing a size 9 shoe only to learn she was supposed to be in a 12. Ouch!

Needless to say, my daughter’s closet is overflowing. My obvious shopping addiction is another topic for another day. But don’t act like I’m the only one. You need a reality check, go look in your child’s closet or drawers for yourself. Don’t tell me you aren’t a sucker for $1.99 t-shirts, $4.99 skorts and 60% off the-cutest-shoes-you’ve-ever-seen.

I try really hard to stick to two pairs of play shoes and two pairs of church shoes. But somehow I end up with one-time wear sandals, cheap flip flops she never wears and cute little sundresses that she can’t wear to school because she plays too hard. And it’s not just stuff I buy, it’s all the stuff others give her, thanks to aunties, play aunties, grannies and friends without kids who love to shop for girls.

Where does it all end up? Here’s what I recommend, at least it’s what I do, take it or leave it.

First, there's the framily pile full of giveaways for friends and family. Though I admit I'm pretty stingy especially if the parent already has built-in hand-me-downs in their household. I, on the other hand, have onechilditis disease.

Then there’s the pile for Goodwill.

And there’s what I call the money bags pile for consignment. I’ve even figured out that if you separate the consignment pile based on where to take the items - if you have time for that and I never do - you could make even more money.

Here are my personal “trust me” universal tips and some tips from the consignment stores themselves:

Wash the clothes (and shoes). Again! Of course I know you wouldn't dream of trying to sell dirty clothes but do yourself a favor if they've been in the closet or drawer for more than a few weeks, wash them again. It gives that fresh from the dryer smell and you can check for holes and hidden stains. I also wash tennis shoes or spray them with cleanser to clean off scuff marks and dirt. Many shops will take worn shoes as long as they are clean and unscuffed. A bleach or orange spray always do the trick for me. And if you don't want to rewash clothing, throw them in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet for a few minutes.

IRON the clothes. OK so I know a lot of parents don't iron kids clothing and think I'm crazy for doing it but I'm telling it works. I've taken the same item to the same consignment shop and that one time I ironed the item is when I made money. Here's the thing, the people scrutinizing your clothing are all seeing things from their own set of eyes – eyes that have been looking at clothes for hours in some cases -- so you need to do all you can to bring home that bacon baby.

Sale whatever you want whenever you want. Look for consignment shops that take items regardless of the season. Beware, some consignment shops only seasonal items.

Brand or not. Now this one really irks me but there are some snooty patooty shops that will only take name brand items. (Insert: rolling my eyes here.) I try to avoid these but they do tend to pay more for obvious reason. The policy will usually state online what brands are accepted.

Research ahead. Check out the consignment websites before you go. Not only to see their rules but often the consignment stores will give you a list of their most-wanted items.

Big ticket items. If you have big ticket items like strollers or joggers, check out your consignment to see if they already have a ton of those items. Often if a consigner has 10 strollers that look alike they aren't going to take another. It's a good idea to call ahead on these items so you don't waste your time and like everything else they need to be cleaned off first. Also check to be sure your item is not on the recall list because, you never know. Speaking of recall, most consignment stores and Goodwill won't accept car seats for fear it's a recall item. Save those items for your framily (friends and family) pile.

Be picky. Try a few shops. You'll figure out quickly who likes what, who needs what, who pays more and most important what works for you.

Organize. No bags. No hangers. I usually fold my items neatly in baskets or plastic bins. I organize them by size and clothing type. I also put sets or "outfits" together.

All the pieces please. All toys and equipment must have original parts and pieces and be working. If it needs a battery, put one in it. And bleach toys too. Same goes for Halloween costumes (include all the pieces.)

They don't accept it all. Bottles, nursing pumps, plush animal toys, home décor usually isn't accepted. I've never nursed but you might consider saving these items for friends and family who want them. On the other hand, I love to decorate, so I take those items to Goodwill. Take the stuffed animals to Goodwill too.

That’s my story on how I make some of the money back that I spend. We’re in the thick of school shopping season and you can make some money too. I dare you to try some of my tips, they might just up the ante for you.