Saving Seasonally

You may be ready for winter to be over. You may be yearning for spring and the lazy days of summer. But before the season is completely gone, you have an opportunity: Now is the time for deals on family winter gear, so make some strategic purchases.

Variety of winter clothing

For those of us in northerly climates, quality winter gear is an often pricey necessity -- and quality matters. You may be able to buy a lower quality coat for less money, but if it keeps you less warm and you end up having to purchase another coat to make it through a cold snap, any cost effectiveness is lost. But still, shelling out the dollars on the quality gear at the beginning of the season can be a burden to any family. Planning eight to nine months in advance, however, can get you and your family the quality gear you need with a lower hit to the bank account.

The basics

Big-box stores, sporting good stores, discount stores, catalogs and specialty stores are trying to clear their inventories of products now in anticipation of the coming season. While you may not find the most perfect winter coat ever in your favorite color and specific size, you're likely to find something good. Open your mind to what is available amid the diminishing selection. A coat by a well known manufacturer of outdoor gear that retailed for $150 or more just a few months ago is a bargain to snap up at $35 -- even if it's a color you hadn't considered before. Yes, guessing future sizes of your kids might be a little tricky (especially if you have an adolescent in that extreme-growth phase) but guessing slightly big usually works.

If your kids lose hats and mittens right and left during the winter, now is the time to snap up multiple sets in the same color at a fraction of their original cost. You'll stress less when one mitten is inevitably lost next winter -- and you'll have a replacement ready.

The extras

If your family is into winter sports, the end of the season is the perfect time to look for gear. Snow pants, thermal layers, sleds, snowboards, helmets, goggles and the like go on sale in late winter. If you have an adolescent, you know how expensive the "cool" gear can get; the end-of-season sales may make one or two pieces almost reasonable.

The challenges

Anticipating shoe sizes can be problematic. Kids' feet have a way of doing the unexpected -- whether that's growing beyond fast or not as much as you expected. If the deal is really good, it may be worth the risk. Then again, a pair of snow boots for your son that you are sure will be perfect may go completely unused if he has a major growth spurt. Shoes and boots are one area where you may not be able to save as much.

Whether you love winter or can't wait for it to be over, a little planning before this winter is done will mean you've saved some serious bank -- and you won't have to scramble when an early cold snap hits next fall!

More tips for moms to save money:

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