Inside: Children are expensive, but their clothes don’t need to be. Find out easy ways to rein in expenses and save money on kids’ clothes.
With kids, the expenses seem to never end. It may be hard to save money on daycare or healthcare, but clothes are an expense we have more control over.
And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that cheap or used clothes will make your child look “scruffy.” The playground and art projects will take care of that.
You can find really cute kids’ clothes for free or very budget-friendly if you try.
10 Ways to save money on kids’ clothes
These are some of the best ways I’ve found to find kids’ clothes for less money.
Local swap groups are a great idea for getting free clothes for your kids. Check for local groups on Facebook, NextDoor, Freecycle, or you might be able to arrange clothing swaps with a circle of friends.
The basic idea is you all get together, bring clothes to trade and (hopefully) have a bit of fun.
2. Yard Sales
Yard sales, garage sales, rummage sales, whatever you want to call them, these are a great place to pick up cheap children’s clothing, especially cheap baby clothes.
Families often sell their kids’ clothes once they believe they are done growing the family. When that happens, they usually have a huge stash of clothes to get rid of. You may be able to find all sorts of shirts, dresses, pants, even things like Robeez selling for a quarter apiece up to maybe $2-$5.
If you buy a large amount of clothes from one person, you may even be able to negotiate a bulk price to get an even better deal. This is a great way to save money on kids’ clothes.
Related: 11 Things You Should Always Buy Used
Hand-me-downs are the reuse part of reduce-reuse-recycle and are an excellent way to save money on children’s clothes. In fact, it’s often free.
If you have an older child, save clothes that are in good condition for your younger children. If you manage to buy relatively gender-neutral items then there’s no worry about sharing between boys and girls.
Let’s face it, when they’re little, the child likely doesn’t care what she is wearing. Especially infants and toddlers. Clothes will get food, spit-up, poo, mud and more on them.
Outside of your family, friends may also have older children or children that are just larger than yours and have clothes they are ready to get rid of.
Pay it forward when your child children outgrow their clothes!
4. Ignore sizes
When buying clothes for young kids it is good to ignore the given sizing. Of course, you don’t want to buy clothes that are too small for your child, but clothing sizes are a bit arbitrary.
Your 6-month-old may only fit into 3 mo onesies or perhaps he is a larger child that is already wearing 12-month sizes. Perhaps your toddler is wearing 4T tops but 2T bottoms. It happens!
With that in mind and knowing your youngster will be growing, look to larger sizes. Short sleeve shirts are great for wearing an extended time. Long-sleeves and pant legs can always be rolled up. Dresses and skirts can be bought a bit long to start and then extend the wear with leggings as she grows. This longer time span your child can wear the clothing means you have fewer clothes to buy in the long run.
5. Buy Ahead
Along with ignoring sizes, go ahead and buy ahead for your child.
When kids are small up to maybe age 9 or 10 it is relatively easy to predict growth patterns and buy sizes for next year. If you see something on deep discount, go ahead and buy for the next year or a couple seasons ahead by getting a larger size. It’s a great way to save money on clothes for the kids because you can shop the clearance racks out of season.
Once your children get to fourth grade or so, their growth pattern becomes a little less predictable. That’s when you have to actually have your child try on clothes or rely on more year-round items such as t-shirts.
6. Buy versatile
One of my favorite tips to save money on kids clothes is to buy versatile clothes.
By this I mean buy clothes that you can mix-and-match. Or, a capsule-ish wardrobe for kids.
It is easier to pull out shirts to match black, gray, blue or khaki bottoms than it is to match leopard print leggings. Or, if your tops are all solid colors, then go wild with the bottoms.
Then there are t-shirts. They can be worn all year long. Cold? Put on a sweater. Skirts are good for girls too as they can wear leggings underneath when it gets chilly.
7. Consignment stores
Some parents take their used or new-but-never-worn kids’ clothes to consignment stores to resell. They would rather do this than having a yard sale as either a time saver or they know their higher-quality items can get a better price at a consignment shop.
Shopping at consignment stores is another great way to score great deals on kids clothing. The prices do tend to be a little bit higher than yard sales, but you can still find great deals on higher-end brands. They are also a great place to look for items such as strollers and baby carriers.
8. Thrift stores
Along with consignment stores, be sure to check out your local thrift stores. We’ve found brand-new clothes with tags still on for $1. It can be hit-or-miss, but be sure to look around.
If you live in a larger city, be sure to check out a few thrift stores in different neighborhoods. It is interesting to see the variety found in different stores.
9. Buy out of season
Hit the clearance racks and buy clothes out of season to get cheap clothes for your children. This will involve a bit of buying ahead, as stated above. You can score some great deals this way.
10. Buy in bulk
Some parents that don’t have a consignment shop nearby or just have a lot of clothes to get rid of may decide to sell clothes in bulk through Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay.
Check online listings and you might be able to get a garbage bag full of clothes for as little as $5. Granted, not everything in those bags will be wonderful, but for $5 you can pick through and find a lot of good condition items and then repurpose or throw away the rest.
Hopefully, this gives you some good ideas on how to save money on kids’ clothes. Do you have more ideas to share?