Frugal Living · With Kids

How to Save THOUSANDS of Dollars on Childrens’ Clothes Per Year

Currently I have three children, all under the age of 6 and I don’t think I’ve spent more than a few hundred dollars TOTAL on all 3 kids’ clothing their entire lives. Most of that cost was for our first daughter before we were very frugal and didn’t live close to friends or family for hand me downs.

In the last year we certainly didn’t spend more than $50 on all 3 children’s clothes. They absolutely do not lack anything. In fact right now I’d say we have way more clothes than we need.

I know that sounds crazy! I would bet that a majority of the country spends more than $50 on one shopping trip.

In order to have a super low clothing budget I specifically look for clothes in the following order.

The more that you buy or accumulate near the top of the list, the less you’ll need to buy near the bottom where prices are most expensive.

  1. Accepting hand me downs
    1. In order for this to work you have to let people know that you welcome hand me downs and are grateful for them. They’ll be more willing to give you clothes in the future if they know they are being used and appreciated.
    2. Keep clothes that are in good condition and you would actually pick out yourself (otherwise it’ll just end up sitting in the closet without being worn.) Make sure you ask the person what they would like you to do with any clothes that aren’t needed. Most of the time I’ve had people say to donate it myself.
    3. Storing hand me downs. I store all my clothes in huge plastic tubs labeled with gender and size. It makes it easy to add to the bin and switch out sizes with the season. Be wary of holding onto swimsuits or anything with an elastic band for too long because usually the elastic will break during storage.
    4. Tell the person when you open the box of clothes and how thankful you are that you had their item!
  2. Free kids clothing exchanges
    1. I recently discovered a clothing exchange at a somewhat nearby church and it was awesome! I brought in 100 items of clothes that my children no longer wore but were in good condition and walked out with 100 items! They had everything from pajamas to winter coats and baby to teen. What an amazing ministry this church started and it all started with a group of moms from the church exchanging clothes amongst themselves.
    2. I’ve heard of other moms groups organizing a clothing exchange as well. If you can’t find one, try and start one!
    3. Exchanging clothes amongst friends, especially for specific items like Holiday. I have a group of friends who we email when we have excess clothes, or we need an item to borrow. One friend emailed that she had extra snowpants for anyone if they needed them, and I offered up some Christmas dresses for anyone to share. I lent some Christmas boys’ clothes that I was saving for my boy in the future to a mom who needed the sizes now, and someone else offered to lend me Christmas dresses in the size I need now. Don’t underestimate the wonderful power of giving within your community.
  3. Church Garage Sales
    1. Church garage sales are great because there are clothes for all ages in one place! If you go on the last day they usually offer a discounted fill the bag price. When I am filling a bag it’s for less picky items, like pajamas.
  4. Community Garage sales
    1. Community garage sales are my next stop because you can drive around within the subdivision and stop at multiple houses, not wasting lots of time and gas. They usually hold them the same weekend every year so you know when they’re going to happen.
    2. Houses with lots of clothes and a fill a bag option are usually the best deals. People holding garage sales usually just want to get rid of items and earn a little money so the more you’re willing to take, the better price they’ll agree to. A tip for stuffing the most into a bag is to tightly roll the item before you put it in.
    3. My usual price that I’ll buy an item for at a garage sale is 50 cents, I prefer a quarter, and only sometimes will I buy a good quality sweater or pair of jeans for $1. Garage sales are also a great place to buy winter jackets and snowpants for $5 or less.
  5. Individual House Garage Sales
    1. I only go out to individual garage sales when I’ve seen multiple signs nearby so that I can save time and gas.
  6. Bi-annual kids consignment sale
    1. I also go to a bi-annual children consignment sale if I’m looking for a specific item in nicer condition. I have to be careful to only go if I really need something specific and to only buy that otherwise you can end up spending more money then you had intended. ­­For example, a specific shoe, nicer dress sandal, nicer dress, dance outfit, etc.
  7. Second hand clothes store like Once Upon a Children
    1. On occasion when I needed an item and I didn’t have any previously saved I’ve gone to Once Upon a Child to look for them before heading to a normal retail store. Some examples were dance shoes, winter boots, and a plain white long sleeve shirt.
  8. On sale or with a coupon at store. 
    1. By this point it’s me needing a very specific item. Only on a very rare occasion will we get to a point of needing to buy an item full price because I’ve been preparing and thinking about the upcoming seasons all year round.

I hope this challenges you to think outside the box of how to save money on your children’s clothes. Do you have any ideas of ways to save money on kids’ clothes that I haven’t thought of?

6 thoughts on “How to Save THOUSANDS of Dollars on Childrens’ Clothes Per Year

    1. Exactly! My husband and I joke that we are forever changed. Even when we’re out of debt I doubt I’ll ever be able to buy something full price.

      1. Haha, that’s exactly what I say! I can’t imagine spending more than $3-$5 for kids clothing each, hopefully it’s way less than that!
        I also like to save the kids clothes that the youngest has outgrown and either sell them on ebay or sell them to Once Upon a Child (although they are so picky, it’s almost ridiculous!) and then use that money that I get to buy them something they need.
        I found my oldest a pair of Skechers sneakers at a thrift store. They looked like they had barely been worn at all! They were only $3.99. She starts school this year so I bought them for her. She just tried them on the other day and even though they are the size she is coming into now, I could barely get them on her feet! It was so frustrating! So now, I have to keep an eye out for sneakers for her for school!

        1. Yes! We are so forever changed I can’t imagine ever going back to spending more than a maximum of $3-5 for a kids clothing item. It’s a super special dress if I buy a consignment $4 dress for my daughter! I have not had much luck selling at Once upon a child because they are so picky. Have you found its worth your time to sell clothes on ebay? Maybe I’ll have to look into that more.

          I hate it when it’s the time someone is growing into something and then I realize I have a hole! Hopefully she can fit into something else while you look for something. Try posting an in search of her size on FB garage sale site.

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