If you have a growing family, you probably already know that raising kids can get spendy. They say that a middle income family with a child born in 2012 can upwards of $200,000 over an 18 year period on food, shelter, education and even child care (according to the US Dept. of Agriculture).
And while much of that expense truly depends on the lifestyle you are trying to provide for them, one thing is certain – kids are happy with your time more than anything money can buy – but it’s obvious that they need to be dressed too.
Whether you have 1 or 8 kids, clothing them is not a little expense – we have 5 kids, and in all honesty, I can’t remember the last time we bought them new clothes or even took them into the mall to shop, as it’s just not in the budget.
Clothing is one thing that many parents go overboard on – it usually starts with the first child. Baby clothing is SO cute, that it’s hard not to want to buy… it’s also equally as important to remember that kids grow so fast during their first few years and they really won’t wear any one particular piece only a few times before they outgrow.
With that in mind, there really isn’t a huge need to go overboard on clothing – especially brand name clothing items. Once they start to crawl and walk, and eat solids, you’ll be washing their clothes over and over from all the spills and stains they get.
All the more reason not to fork over huge bucks – right?
When it comes to younger children (ages 5 and up..), most children will readily wear items provided they fit them without being too tight or snug. I have found that my son (7 years) is a little more fussy about what he wears versus my 10 year old daughter (who really just doesn’t care what she puts on!) so I always try to include him in my purchases even if I’m purchasing at a second hand store.
Here are some ways we save money on kids clothes:
Accept FREE Clothing from Friends or Neighbors
Every month we are offered free clothes from friends in the area, and even co-workers or neighbors. Although I’m not always sure I want or need them, I’ll always accept them and take advantage of the opportunity to score a few extra items.
Sometimes I think I’m set for the next season or.. that I’m set for the next school year, but after rummaging through the bag, I can always find a handful of items if not more that I can use for my kids at the current time.
Even if I don’t think I can use them all, I’ll pass to other friends that have children so that they can do the same.
Swap with Other Parents
If you haven’t ever considered a children’s clothing swap, it’s a great way to get together with friends – whether it be a Mom’s group, local church group or even neighborhood mom’s club. Each mom can bring a few bags of clothing that they don’t need, and with careful planning, you can lay them out on tables, and enjoy snacks or coffee/beverages and allow moms to trade items.
Parents will get to leave with things they need, and you will pass on those items that you no longer might use. Then, the items that don’t get swapped out can eventually be donated.
Hand me Downs
We’ve mastered the hand-me-down scene rather well the last few years ~ with the exception of our oldest, every other child wears hand me downs in our home and it works out so well.
Every other month, I go through my kids rooms and bag up those items that no longer fit – and sort them into bins that we keep in the garage according to age/size. I tend to try to hold onto those classic items like blue jeans, and church dresses, as well as cardigans so that the next child can use them.
Our kids have lots of hand me downs from their older cousin that stretch over 3-4 children – they are in great shape and come from Gymboree, Old Navy and even The Children’s Place. Nobody would even guess that we never traveled into the store to pick up these items.
Every holiday, our extended family looks to buy clothing for our kids instead of giving them gifts. While our kids may not get as excited to get clothing, over time they take pride in having something “new” (and not passed down!)
If I know I need something for the kids that I can’t afford, and if I know family wants to buy them something for their birthday, I’ll ask specifically for socks or underwear or even pajamas – it makes their grandparents lives easier and helps me avoid going to the store with all 5 kids.
Secondhand stores are a great place to find children’s clothing – and it doesn’t necessarily involve going to the store! There are many online secondhand stores that have fabulous sales.
Schoola has been one of our favorite secondhand stores to shop at online – and has unique children’s clothing with frequent sales if I’m looking for something in specific.
Stores like Once Upon a Child are also popular places to find children’s clothing – one of the best features about Once Upon a Child is that they are selective in what they purchase back – they oftentimes run seasonal sales where you can stock up on children’s clothing through their “fill a bag” sale for $10 – $15.
Sometimes Goodwill has 50% OFF sales – and while the store gets so incredibly busy on those days, I’ll usually try to go anyways and stock up on items that I can find that are in great shape. If I can’t get there on a 50% OFF sale, then i’ll go on a regular day and look for the colored tag to get the discounted price.
Check for Clearance
I try to stay out of stores as much as I can simply because it’s too hard to go with kids, but if you have 1 or 2 and going shopping is easier for you, then check the clearance racks. Sometimes you can score some amazing prices when you match clearance items with in-store coupons.
Sew your Own
Of course, if you are talented with a sewing machine, you can always opt to sew your own clothes, too! Finding patterns isn’t difficult – you can pick up patterns at the thrift store, find them on sale at the fabric store or scour Pinterest – I know we have many patterns saved to one of our Sewing Boards.