7 Ways to Save on Kid’s Clothing

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You can spend a fortune on kid’s clothes if you’re not careful. It’s easy to go overboard when the outfits are so cute. The thing that gets me is the shoes. It seems like every kid's running shoes are so, so cute. How can anyone resist giving their child the very best? But think about it for a second. Unless you are extremely wealthy, there are probably much better ways to spend your cash than on clothes your child will only wear for a year or two (if you’re lucky!). The good news is that the kiddos can still look cute and fashionable without draining your wallet. Here are a few suggestions for getting the most for your money.

1. Remind yourself not to go crazy buying clothes. Kids under age 8 or 9 generally only get one year’s wear out of each size. You can get by with 5-7 bottoms and 10-14 tops per kid, per season without feeling like your child is wearing the same thing every day.

In fact, if your household is like a lot of other busy households, your kids will still wear the same four or five outfits over and over again right out of the clean clothes basket no matter how many outfits he or she has. And with the virus keeping everyone indoors, wearing four favorite outfits versus ten is just fine. Even if you can find clothes dirt cheap, it doesn’t make sense to clutter up your home with more clothes than your child needs at any time. My sister buys a ton of clothes for her children. The funny thing is that they just take out the top two pieces in each drawer so even though they have thirty different shirts, they wear the same two at the top because the washed ones go back on the top of the pile each time. They also hate how all their clothes seem to overflow in the drawer so they have to shove everything back in every morning. They actually prefer their mom to buy just two shirts and two pairs of pants.

2. Buy quality where it counts, but remember there is a point of diminishing returns.

Shoes and outwear are worn nearly every day, so it’s worth it to spend more on good quality. However, a $100 pair of kid shoes doesn’t make sense since there is no way to get a lifetime of use out of them, so go for the well constructed $50 pair (better yet, wait for them to go on sale!)

Some parents stick to name brands so that they can sell their children's outgrown clothing to fund buying the next season's wardrobe but remember that name brands are mostly marketing that only adults pay attention to. Your teenager may care about the name brands too, but young kids care more about what animal your shirt has than the company that made that shirt.

3. You can save a lot by buying end of season clearance for next year, but buy with caution. While most kids will grow at predictable rates, you could have an outlier so buying offseason is good but don’t go crazy. It’s just too easy to buy way too much and lose track of it and continue buying. Don’t think of how much you are saving, think of how much you are spending.

Shoes are particularly risky to buy ahead of as it's not a good idea to have your child wear a pair that doesn't fit correctly. I remember how one of the players on my son’s soccer team always trips on the field. It’s totally due to his shoes being too big for him, but his dad didn’t seem to care. He was one of the better players when he wasn’t tripping himself too. You don’t want that for your kids. It's not unheard of for children to wear the same size for 9 months, then in the span of a couple of weeks seem to skip ahead two sizes. If you do buy ahead, stick to things that can be worn year-round like sneakers instead of winter boots or summer sandals.

4. Tap into the local parenting grapevine to find out about all the can’t miss consignment sales, clothing swaps, and rummage sales. Most of them allow volunteers to shop early at preview nights before the sale begins. Some sales have a reputation for being ritzy, others for having insane bargains so ask around to find the ones that suit your style and needs. You just may find a great deal on all your clothes for the whole season all in one night.

5. Thrift stores and online auctions can be hit or miss. For play-wear, you can often get new items on clearance for close to the same price at stores like Target and Children’s Place without having to poke around as much. Dress clothes are often a bargain second-hand and you can often find them in excellent condition as they aren’t worn much before being outgrown.

6. Learn to be a master of stain removal and minor sewing repairs. Nowadays, you can pretty much always find the information you need just by doing a quick online search. The web is full of tutorials and advice on how to care for clothing so take advantage of it before throwing away clothing that still has some life left in it.

7. Seriously consider hand me downs. My sister’s shopping habits have one upside. That’s because her son is a couple of years older than mine so I get all these hand-me-downs that are basically brand new. In fact, some are even still in the plastic bags that new clothes come in since she has most of them shipped to her house. You may not be as lucky as I am, but you probably have friends and family who have a bunch of slightly worn hand me downs your kids could wear. Consider exchanging. Perhaps you can treat them to a dinner or two, or mow their lawn in exchange for some clothes. It’ll help both of you out. My daughter has clothes we pass onto our friends too. While we aren’t exchanging them for anything in return, we are happy to help out.

Kids are expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should accept that everything about them is going to cost an arm and a leg. When it comes to clothing, you can spend a ridiculous amount or you can be thoughtful and spend much less. Most of us grew up with practically nothing. Yet, we still grew up happy and healthy. Think about this for a second. Do you actually need to buy everything in sight for them?

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