My child wears a size 5 ½ shoe. Which is particularly of interest to me because three months ago my child was in a size 5 shoe.
Shoes aren’t something I skimp on – you all know how I feel about properly fitting, super-supportive shoes. That goes for kids, too. So it would seem that this week I’ll be out another sixty bucks or so, due to my son’s growing toes.
That said, while I’m not afraid to spend a little extra on a good pair of shoes or insoles for my kids, I’m sure as heck not about to plunk down money for designer brands for three kids. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about saving money on kids’ clothes – I’d like to pass along a few tips to you!
Tip 1: Skip the Elitism
There’s something to be said for buying quality clothes. Spending a few extra cents for stitching that’s not going to unravel at the hems, or shopping in the specialty sizes like “husky” for your larger boys. To do that, you’ll probably want to steer clear of the big box stores for the most part – for school clothes in particular.
But that’s not to say your kid needs to wear Hugo Boss to school, either. There are oodles of stores, both brick and mortar and online, that sell middle of the road kids clothes for far less than those expensive brands. Old navy is reasonable, and you’ll find a huge selection of clothes on sites like Amazon that will fit your budget.
Teach your kids early that the label on their clothes is nowhere near as important than the kindness they show to others. That sounds like a cliché, but it’s oh-so-true. Skip the clothing elitism and choose to go moderate.
Tip 2: Know When to Hit the Big Box
Walmart, Target, Kmart and similar stores are absolutely essential to your survival as a parent. My three year old lives in her Geranimals mix-n-match shorts and tops, and my older two love their Hanes basic tees.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily send the kids to school in what’s really a glorified undershirt, but my kids – and most kids – play hard. You’ll want to spend the least amount of money possible on clothes they’re going to kick around in. For that, there’s the Big Box store.
Tip 3: Consign Your Kids’ Clothes
All around the world, there are little stores called consignment shops. These stores come in all shapes and sizes, from baby and toddler all the way up to parent-sized clothes for sale. Kid to Kid and Plato’s Closet are just two examples of these stores – they have chains all across America.
Bring in your kids’ clothes. The store will take a look, evaluate them, and make you an offer. They may not accept every article of clothing, but they’ll give you a choice as to what you’d like to do with the clothes they don’t accept. You can either bring them back home with you, or the store will donate them to a charity like Goodwill.
Your offer will come in two forms. Either you’re offered, say, $50 in store credit, or the store will give you, for instance, $25 in cash. Note that the store credit offer is always higher than the cash offer. Take the credit offer and use that credit to buy the next size up.
Need an additional reason to consign clothes? It’s green. It’s estimated that, from Americans alone, 26 billion pounds of clothing will end up in landfills each and every year.
Tip #4: Uniform Swap
If your child goes to a school where a uniform is required, it’s time to form alliances with other parents. Sometimes the school will have an online bulletin board, or sometimes you’ll just have to do a little legwork. But however you do it, start a uniform exchange.
Uniforms are pretty basic. Khakis, greys, whites and blacks are pretty much all you need to clothe your child for the year, but as you know those kids grow quickly. Ask around in the parent circles to see who’s selling (or donating) their clothes to the next rising junior. This will save you a ton of money on kids’ clothes.
It’s not just school uniforms, either. Scout uniforms and more can be traded around, minus those badges.
Tip #5: Shop the Right Neighborhoods
I mentioned that the label on your child’s clothes won’t make or break him. But sometimes, you might be looking for something in particular. Shop at thrift stores. No, seriously. Shopping Salvation Army, Goodwill and others are great options for saving money on kids’ clothes – if you do it right.
The trick to finding the best stuff at thrift stores is to go to the ritzier neighborhoods. The kids who live in those neighborhoods outgrow their clothes, too. And usually the parents can’t be bothered to resell them. So what do they do? They send them to Goodwill.
The thing about the larger thrift stores is that they price everything the same, no matter what. For example, a shirt is a shirt, and will always cost, for example $1.49. That’s true whether it’s Faded Glory or Ferragamo.
The clothes you’ll find in the “moderate” neighborhoods are just that. They’re a cross between Walmart and the mall. The clothes you’ll find in the upscale neighborhoods are, generally speaking, a darn fine deal for the brands you’ll get.
Tip #6: Be Smart
Your child doesn’t need 14 pairs of jeans, 22 rain coats and 36 blue sweaters. She or he needs variety, sure. Kids can be harsh, and wearing the same clothes every week to school will be noticed by your child’s peers.
That said, be smart about it and plan ahead. You know grandma buys your kids three new outfits every spring during the Easter clearance sales. That equates to three outfits you don’t have to buy.
Know when to shop, too. Shop the clearance sales, opting to buy swimsuits in October and winter coats in May. You can pretty much “guess” your kid’s size for the following year – when in doubt, buy a size up.
Buying kids’ clothes doesn’t have to break the bank, y’all! Know when to smart, how to find the best bargains and how to consign, and your kids will have a full wardrobe for much, much less.
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