Shoes. Everyone wears them. Boots, clogs, sneakers, sandals, flip flops, mary janes, loafers - shoes come in all shapes, designs, colors and sizes, and they serve one main purpose: they keep your feet protected and covered.
That's the main, if slightly boring, purpose of shoes. Everyone knows the other, more fun, purpose of shoes: they make you look good. They might help you run faster, look sharper, stand a bit taller, but it all boils down to helping you look better. Shoes can also help your feet to feel better, and when your feet feel good, it's amazing how good the rest of you can feel.
It's the stylish part of the equation that I want to talk about today - how do we allow our kids to show off their creativity and individuality, while keeping them in the shoes that they seem to outgrow virtually overnight? It an be a tough balance. After all, you might purchase a really great pair of pink lace up high tops for your little girl - shoes she begged for - and just a short month later, they pinch her toes and out they go.
How can you balance the need for thrift with the need to be cute and stylish?
- Shop second hand wisely - Be smart when you shop thrift stores.There are often many shoes in thrift stores, and you can occasionally find brand new ones with the tags still on. It pays to investigate every trip. A pair of dress shoes may have only been worn once of twice and could still have a lot of wear left in them.
- Look for sales - Keep an eye out on your favorite shoe store. Especially at back to school and holiday time, there can be tremendous sales. Does your child need a special uniform shoe, or have a devotion to a particular style of sneaker? Take advantage of "buy one, get one" and "half off" specials and squirrel those extra shoes away - you'll need them sooner than you think.
- Purchase online - Online retailers do not have to pay overhead, and sales are fast and frequent. Become a preferred customer and reap the benefits of super savings deals and coupons, not to mention free shipping.
- Research the hand me down - Some shoes are worn so rarely - I'm looking at you, rain boots and patent leather dress shoes - that they can be passed down to a sibling with no trouble. Shoes that are worn more often, though, break down and conform to the foot of the original owner, and so it's not a good idea to pass those down. Save the money you'd spend on new rain boots and buy a good, solid pair of sneakers.
- Buy off season - I've been known to scoop up ten pairs of fli flops in September for $1 each - originally $20. The same holds true for sneakers - I once bought four subsequent sizes in the same sneaker for $3 each. After all, I knew that someone would be able to wear them, and I couldn't pass up a good deal on great shoes. Look at the sale racks at the end of the season and you'll be stunned at the finds.
How do you manage to balance cute vs. practical vs. comfortable vs. spending limits for shoes with your children?