Best Ways to Save on Kid’s Clothes

Kids grow fast so keeping them outfitted is always a challenge. It is hard not to get discouraged when you hit the kids department and realize a tiny pair of jeans cost as much as a full-grown adult pair. Who wants to pay full-price when you know they will only fit your growing child for a short time? Luckily, there are ways to save while outfitting your tiny fashionista.

Second-hand Consignment

You may be surprised what you can find at your local consignment shop, thrift shop or Good Will store. Often times, these stores get brand new items with the tags still on them or seconds from stores going out of business (still in the original packaging). Also keep a look-out for summer shoes, socks and accessories. If you prefer upscale items, there are consignment shops that cater to brand name items only. Just do a quick internet search to find a store near you.

Local Church or Ministry

Ask around and you may find a local church ministry or non-profit that offers children’s clothing, shoes, coats, hats and mittens for free. In my community there are a few ministries that open their doors to the public once a month for a clothing swap. Often, these groups do not require any affiliation with the church or organization. This is also a good option to donate your gently-used items that your child has outgrown.

stack of various jeans isolated on white background

Community Center

My community has a thrift shop right in the community center! All donations and sales go right back into the community I live in. At these locations you will find clothes, games, housewares, backpacks and even school supplies! Also, check with your Town’s Human Services department. Many towns work with their local community center to help residents in time of need like in the case of a fire or loss.

Buy off season / Stock up on Clearance

I tend to stock up on clearance items I find at my local big-box store for as low as $1.00 a piece! I understand that these staples may not last forever, but work great as everyday play clothes. For me it doesn’t matter if they are girls or boys clothes. A tee shirt is a tee shirt and it matters little to me or my girls when they are just playing or working on an art project. When I find a great deal I will buy one of each item and color in as many sizes as I can find. I store the extras in a closet and have them when my child grows to the next size.

I also stock up off season. In January I buy winter clothes for the following year; In April I stock up on shoes for the summer; and in early summer and late fall (after the back-to-school rush) I stock up on school clothes. Just be sure to check your stash every once in a while to take inventory. If you don’t know what you already have, you may find yourself with a little too much of a good thing.

Flip flop sandals

Online Sites

There are several online sites where you can find clothing, even name brands, for free or low-cost. Sites like Freecycle, Facebook Yard Sale sites and Craigslist are good places to join and monitor for deals. Just a note of caution, always arrange your swap in a well-lit public place or local police department parking lot. Never go directly to the seller’s home and always trust your gut.

Hand-me-downs

I have two girls so hand-me-downs are a reality in my house. When my first child outgrows her clothing, I wash it, sort it and box it up to save for child number two. You can also get hand-me downs from family, friends and neighbors who have kids a little older than your own. Hand-me-downs are great and economical but it is also nice for your child to have a few special pieces that are all their own. Be sure to add some new items to the mix just for them.

Store Loyalty Programs and Coupons

Many stores will reward customer loyalty with good deals and coupons. If you have a favorite store, it is a good idea to sign up for electronic specials and coupons. Check your email for the deals and be sure to combine your savings with any sales or additional coupons you can find. Most stores will accept both a manufacturer’s coupon and a store generated coupon for the same item. (When in doubt, always check the store policy) If you find a brand that works well for your family that has great styles or good quality then by all means shop for those quality staples you need. Just be cautious of department store credit cards that may lure you in with the promise of saving money, but may come with very high interest rates.

Non-clothing Stores and Special Events

Always be on the lookout for a good deal. You never know when or where they might pop up. I’ve found bargains in places you might not traditionally think of for clothing. For instance, I found character tee-shirts and water shoes on clearance at my local drug store; shirts and accessories at craft stores; and hair accessories, shoe laces and hats at the dollar store. These locations are also great for school supplies. In addition, it never ceases to amaze me what you might find at trade shows and special events. I’ve seen everything from free filled back packs for school-age kids to shirts, hats and more. Sometimes even grocery stores have end of season specials on things you might need. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check yard sales and flea markets for bargains. Sometimes it pays to think outside the box when buying the things you need.

Closeup portrait of a woman using a sewing machine

Mend torn clothing

If your child gets a rip in their favorite pair of jeans or a stain on their shirt your first reaction may to be to trash the item. Instead, it may be worthwhile to grab a needle and thread to do a little repair and let the item live out its full lifecycle, or cut off the legs and make summer shorts. If sewing is not up your alley, then just set the imperfect clothing aside and let your children wear them outside for playtime when you know it is going to get dirty or ripped anyway. I also have a small pile for arts and crafts projects. That way I know they aren’t messing up their good clothes. Same goes for shoes. Save those dirty, worn sneakers specifically for outdoor play.

Quality vs. Quantity

Of course, there are times when you want to pay a little extra for that special occasion or piece of clothing you know is built to last. For Sunday church you may want to invest in that special something that is a little nicer. Also, if you know your child goes through a pair of shoes or jeans in a week, then it may be a good idea to spend a little more on items you know are going to last.

In the long-run you will find yourself using a variety to tactics to outfit your children. Just use your best judgement to splurge where needed and save, save, save on the rest!

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