How much do you spend on children’s clothing? It’s easy to spend too much. They outgrow clothes so quickly, especially during growth spurts. Finding ways to save money on children’s clothing can be a help to your budget.
Some tactics are easier when the kids are younger and don’t much care about where their clothes come from. Older kids may want more say in what they wear and where their clothes come from.
The first rule is, of course, to avoid impulse shopping. Buying only what you need will always help you save money.
Infants and Toddlers
Infants and toddlers are in many ways the easiest to shop for, if also the most tempting for dressing them up cute. Most parents end up with far too many clothes for their kids at this age after baby showers. They’re so easy to buy for and the clothing is often just so cute.
If you had a baby shower, take a good look at what you really have for your baby before you start buying. You may not need that much. Keep doing this as your kids grow and you fail to realize just how many clothes they have received as birthday presents or at other times.
It’s also a great time for shopping thrift and resale shops. An amazing amount of infant and toddler clothing makes into such places unworn or so close to it you’d scarcely notice the difference. The savings can be a real delight.
Don’t stress about sizes on baby clothes. They vary so much! Go by what fits your child, not by what the tag says. This will be true to a degree as kids get older, but is especially an issue in baby clothes.
Shopping for Older Children
As kids get older, shopping for them gets more difficult. Even preschoolers may start to develop a distinct fashion sense or start to prefer name brand clothing. Gently used clothing that still meets their preferences becomes more and more difficult to find.
You can still find some good clothing at resale or thrift shop for your kids. As they develop an interest in how they are dressed you will need to let them help you pick appropriate clothing. Some kids can develop a real sense for the bargains to be had at resale shops.
As long as you can, discourage them from wanting only brand names. And if brand name isn’t in your budget, consider it a lesson for your children on living within your means. There is no rule saying children have to be dressed in brand name clothing, no matter how much they want to be like their friends.
Outlet shops can also be a great resource. When you give in on brand names, try the outlet shops rather than the department stores. You should be aware of the regular price as well as what you could get the items on sale for, so you know what a good price is at the outlet.
Shopping at the right time matters as well. You won’t always have your choice with kids – if they have a growth spurt and outgrow the clothes you have for them sooner than you are ready for them to do so.
But whenever you can, be prepared to shop at the right time. Good times to find the best deals include the end of the season and after holidays. Just be careful about buying too much in advance – you might end up buying items that never get worn.
Then there’s the piece of advice my son’s pediatrician gave at his most recent checkup. My son is at that age where he is getting tall! She told me to buy shorts rather than long pants as much as possible for him. Long pants are outgrown much more quickly than shorts.
At any age, don’t forget the value of handmedown clothes for children. My sisters and I passed so many clothes down through the years, starting when the kids were babies. Some outfits made it through five kids, and there’s one jacket, still going strong, that is nearly 20 years old now. It’s still beautiful and every girl has been reluctant to give it up even after outgrowing it. Yes, that’s it in the snow picture above.
Handmedowns went so well for us that the younger kids had almost too many clothes at times, as each family would add just a few new items to the batch. It was pretty amazing how well this worked for us.
You can do handmedowns with friends too. All you need is a group of people willing to pass kids’ clothes back and forth, and kids with the right age separations to make it practical.
Some kids will get grumpy about handmedowns as they get older. The big thing I do is make sure that there are some new clothes for each child, and not just handmedowns.
Timing of handmedowns can help as well. My kids have to wear uniforms to school, so they get their handmedown clothes at the end of the school year, when they can actually wear them regularly. This makes them a lot more exciting. They get out of school and have a whole new wardrobe for summer!
Kids who don’t have school uniforms are more likely to appreciate new clothes when school starts. There’s something so nice about having new clothes for school, and I think most of us remember that. Even if it’s just new to your child and not new from the store.
Shopping online with a trusted merchant can be a fair deal as well. You can find quite a range of clothing at Amazon, for example. The one disadvantage is that the clothes cannot be tried on beforehand. If you have Amazon Prime, it’s usually not much of a problem, as many clothes will have free shipping.
There are a lot of other places online where you can get children’s clothes for cheap. If you want used clothes, ThredUp may be an option.
Rarely Worn Clothes
Some clothes your kids will wear only rarely. Sometimes you can get away with buying an extra large size in rarely worn clothes, so that you get an extra year or so out of them.
Think about winter jackets in places with mild winters. My kids need a heavy jacket no more than a couple times a year, so if I have to buy one, I get it in a larger size than they need. Same for snow boots. Boots can be worn with extra socks to make them fit better, which isn’t a bad idea in cold weather anyhow.
Don’t buy oversize in things that oversize will be uncomfortable or awkward. You want your kids to use the clothes, not hate them.
Sell Old Clothes
If you aren’t doing handmedowns, selling old clothes can be a great way to get some money back on anything your kids haven’t completely ruined. Many will go through phases where they ruin a lot of clothes, but anything still in good shape could be sold.
You can go the traditional route and have a garage sale every year or two, for example. You can sell some clothes on eBay or Poshmark, or sell them to ThredUp or Swap.com. Just make sure you understand what you’re getting into if you send your clothes to ThredUp so that you aren’t disappointed in what they give you. And of course you can shop for clothes on any of these as well.
Some people do well selling their clothes on Instagram. The advantage here is that you don’t pay a commission, although you may have to deal with Paypal fees.
Avoid Single Use Items
When it comes to special occasions, it can be easy to want to buy something special for your child. These special items can cost more than regular clothes, yet you might only use them once.
Special occasion clothes were always my favorites for handmedowns or thrift stores. They don’t cost much that way.
I also do what I can to find special clothes that can be worn more than once. Don’t choose a super Christmas-y outfit for a child if there’s one that could be used for other holidays as well.
I also suggest buying fancy shoes for kids as rarely as possible. Kids want to run around, and fancy shoes make that more difficult. Sure, they’re cute, but they scuff up too easily, or the decorations get ruined. Kids don’t need really dressy shoes for most occasions. Take some time to consider if this is really one of those times.
It’s not always easy to save money on children’s clothing. Doing so can mean you teach them not only about how to look nice but also how to live within your means. Both can be valuable lessons.