I’m a mom of 7 children, and I realize just how much money it costs to clothe them! We don’t have to buy used, but we choose to on many occasions, just because I prefer the styles of clothes I can afford to get when they’re preowned. We’ve spent the past 18 years being frugal, especially in the clothing department and have learned that the best way to keep our budget under control is to use these 10 tactics.
I know many of you are starting to think about back to school clothing. It can get pricey if you don’t plan ahead. Because we homeschool, we don’t have to buy specifically in this season, but we’ve learned lots of tips and tricks to save money and still have decently dressed children. Here’s a few of the things I do.
1. Buy at Garage Sales
When I’m in the garage sale groove, I like to keep a list of the clothing my children currently need or will be needing in the near future. I also keep a list of their current sizes for reference, because there’s so many of them, sometimes i forget.
2. Go to Consignment Stores or Sales
You can find good condition, name brand clothes at consignment stores for a small portion of the retail price. Yes, once again, they’re used, but if they’re cute, who cares? Our town has one consignment store that is open year round. We also have 2 consignment sales (like a garage sale, but it’s all children’s clothes) each year at the time of switching seasons.
You can also pay for a good portion of that year’s clothing by selling your items at these sales. Some of the stores in larger towns will pay you up front for your clothing, while others will ask you to wait until the items sell. Either way, it’s a great way to get a clothing slush fund.
3. Use Facebook Swap Groups
Chances are, by now, you’ve already got your own Facebook Swap group in your area. If for some reason you don’t, you should start one. These Facebook groups are typically based in a city or county that you live in. Many of them are broken into smaller groups, where you can look just at kids things or just at household items, etc. You’ll want to find a group that allows clothing. Start watching the ads or do a search to see if there’s anything being offered that you want or need. If you’re not finding what you need, consider putting an ISO (in search of) post out there, if your swap allows it.
4. Try Discount stores that sell new name brand items.
Our family loves these stores. Our 3 favorites are:
- Name Brand Clothing– be careful here, they have great sales, but sometimes the items are damaged. You’ll want to inspect each garment for damage before purchasing. Many, many items are just fine, so just be aware. They call themselves the 1/2 of 1/2 store. I often find shirts for $2-$4 and pants for $5-$10 and they are brand new quality.
- Ross – Dress for Less – This doesn’t have near the variety that Name Brand Clothing has, but you will not find damaged goods. If you’re in Texas, these stores are EVERYWHERE! (I think we hit a dozen of them on our last vacation, lol). There are some great deals to be had here!
- T.J. Maxx – This store is a little pricier yet, than the above two, but they offer a different selection and they’re still cheaper than retail. You’ll want to check it out if you’re used to paying retail all the time!
5. Buy Out of Season
You’re going to want to keep that list handy again for this one. Take inventory at the end of the current season. What sizes and items will your child need when this season comes up again? Often, stores will be clearancing the out of season items at 75% to 90% off. You won’t want to miss out on these mega deals, but you have to know what you’ll be needing. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with clutter.
6. Let Your Friends Know You’ll Be Happy to Take Hand Me Downs
We have many friends who periodically drop clothing off to us. We go through them and then we donate the rest. We’ve saved lots of money by gathering only the items we will use.
7. Try Thrift stores
Do you frequent thrift stores? Let me tell you, not every thrift store is created equally. Some are way overpriced on their clothes. Some are junkier than others. But, when you find the perfect thrift store, you are so happy! You can find, barely used, school quality clothing for pennies on the dollar! Yes, you have to search sometimes, but if you love a good deal, you’ll have some fun in thrift stores.
Here’s an unrelated tidbit from my past. I used to buy thrift store clothes and sell them on Ebay. We made a decent side income by doing this!
8. Know when the sales are
Many stores have sales at the same time every year. If you learn when these are, you’ll be sure to save money. These stores will also have coupons and cash offers if you spend a certain dollar amount. Gymboree has been known to have a sales where if you spend $50 one week, they’ll give you $25 to spend another week. Almost every store out there will have great sales around the holidays. Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are the best holidays to shop around, off the top of my head.
9. Outlet Malls are Fun!
When my 3rd child was born, we lived about an hour from Branson, Missouri, who had 3 outlet malls at the time. (Now, they’re down to 2, but they still have some amazing deals!) If you can get to an outlet mall regularly, you can find some steals. My 3rd born was my best dressed baby, because I kept finding the most adorable baby clothes at The Children’s Place on sale for a dollar or two.
Keep in mind with outlet malls:
- They will often have a coupon book available in the managing office, which you may have to pay a small amount to obtain.
- Their sales are always better around holidays.
- Sometimes, they’re no cheaper than retail, so be aware and don’t get sucked in, unless you just want to be of course!
10. Store Your Older Children’s Clothes for Hand Me Downs
I keep a stock pile of children’s clothes in my basement. Honestly, I don’t have to buy clothes very much. I have to buy them more for my boys, because I don’t save them between the two of them. There’s just too many years between them to make it worth my while. But, if you have children who are close in age to one another (like my girls are), you can save loads of money by saving their old clothes and letting your younger children grow into them.
I hope this gave you some good ideas of where to get started. Do you have some ideas that I haven’t shared here? Please share them below. My readers are eager to learn of even more ways to save money on children’s clothing!