Kids grow fast, often faster than they can wear out their clothes. And their clothing can cost as much as an adult’s! What’s a frugal mom to do? Here are a few of my tried and true tips for saving money on kid’s clothing.
You knew I was going to suggest this first, didn’t you? Seriously, how many times have you bought something new for your kids at retail price only to find they’ve outgrown it by the time they get around to wearing it, or worse, it tears apart in the wash after a couple of wears? If you don’t want to take time to hunt at yard sales, try consignment shops. In my area, these are still a bit pricey, so I take advantage of discount days and frequent shopper cards to save a little. My favorite thrift store, in a nicer part of town, has half price days around major holidays. Several times a year I go and stock up. You can’t beat the prices, and if an item still looks good after being worn and washed, it’s likely to last.
If you’re organized, you may want to buy next year’s clothing at the end of this season, when everything is on clearance – and keep the off season clothing in marked containers in storage. Keep the buy ahead principle in mind when you’re out and about and see great deals.
eBay and Craigslist
I find that there are great deals to be had on clothing purchased used online. In fact, clothing purchased in “lots” on eBay are often cheaper than even thrift stores. A major advantage of this approach is the time you save not driving around to stores. I have my daughters hunt for clothing they like on eBay, add it to my “watch” list, and later when I have time I buy it (or not). This is fun for them!
Cruising Craigslist for clothing is also a great idea, as sellers typically aren’t in business but are just clearing out clutter, and prices are low.
Try to think outside the box when it comes to kid’s clothing. Items that you think are outgrown may not be. For example, last winter’s jeans can become this summer’s cute cutoffs, and leggings or pants can turn into capris. A dress that fits an 18 month old will likely be a cute top when she’s 3. Once a toddler is potty trained, her old clothing may fit again once she’s not in a bulky diaper.
My 9 year old sometimes “shops” in her 6 year old’s discards – her old cardigans reappear as “shrugs”, and her big brother’s too short neckties give her a cute preppy look. A skirt too short? Put opaque leggings underneath and you’ve got a trendy look. Don’t be too quick to throw outgrown clothing out.
Host a Swap
Hosting a clothing swap is fun, easy and a great way to get rid of unneeded stuff as well as obtain great new-to-you clothing. Set a date, email your friends an invite, and “shop” each other’s stuff for free!
Carrie is a homeschooling mom of 7 who has learned a thing or two about raising kids frugally. Find more tips for natural family living at http://www.