How to Dress Your Kids Well on the Cheap

The seasons will be changing soon, and it will be time to pack away the summer clothes and pull out the winter wardrobe. Now is the time to take inventory of what your children need and fill in the holes. What do you do if your children need clothes and you don’t have a lot of money to spare? There are several ways you can dress your kids well without breaking the bank.

Accept hand-me-downs. I love hand-me-downs. I never turn them down. When someone gives me a bag of clothes for my kids, I take what we need and then pass the rest down to someone else. You can’t beat free clothes.

If nobody offers you hand-me-downs, arrange a clothing swap. Get together with your friends for an afternoon, let the kids run wild (or better yet, leave the kids home with dad), and swap clothes that your children don’t need anymore. We did this once at church, and it worked pretty well. All the moms brought in their children’s outgrown clothes, we grouped all the clothes by size, and people took what they needed. Again, you can’t beat free clothes.

Hit the yard sales. I’ve found great deals on children’s clothing at yard sales. Baby and toddler clothing can often be found for a quarter to a dollar per outfit, and often the clothing is in great condition.

Shop thrift stores. Though the prices are typically higher than what you find at yard sales, thrift stores are also a good place to find gently used children’s clothing for pennies on the dollar. Stop in frequently, as inventory changes often. You might even find some brand new clothes occasionally. I know our Goodwill sells brand new items from Target. I especially like thrift stores for expensive, but infrequently used items, like snowsuits and snow boots.

Consignment stores can offer great deals. The prices at consignment stores are definitely higher than what you’ll find at thrift stores, but the clothing is almost always in great condition. I’ve found that consignment stores are typically very picky about what they’ll accept to sell. Because of this, you can generally be assured that the clothing you find at consignment stores will have a lot of wear left. The best way to take advantage of consignment stores is to bring in some clothing for trade. You will get a store credit for the stuff you bring in, and you can use it to buy the things you need.

eBay is great if you work it right. You can often find great bargains on eBay, but you need to watch out for shipping costs. I try to buy clothing in large lots when I shop on eBay, because shipping for individual items begins to add up quickly. Another strategy to avoid high shipping costs is to take advantage of shipping specials from a single seller. Often sellers will give you a break on shipping if you win more than one of their auctions. The tricky part is making sure you win more than one auction without spending too much. And always check a seller’s feedback to make sure you’re dealing with someone who stands behind what they sell.

By clothing on clearance. I love clearance sales! This is my favorite option for buying children’s clothing. To take advantage of clearance sales, you need to be aware of when the best clearance sales start. Inventory will sell out fast, so it’s important to get there on the first day or two. I often find brand name children’s clothing on sale for less than $4.00 a piece. That’s much less than the typical $15-$20 it costs when the item first hits the sales floor. To make clearance sale shopping an even bigger bargain, I often resell my children’s outgrown name brand clothing on eBay to recoup some of the cost. If done right, this option can cost less overall than shopping second-hand.

It is possible to dress your children well without spending a lot of money. You just have to know when and where to look to find the best deals.

10 thoughts on “How to Dress Your Kids Well on the Cheap”

  1. I love hand me downs for me too…shopping new is overwhelming, but if someone gives me a bag of clothes they can no longer use, I figure its worth an hour in my room trying things on, and if I get one great shirt out of it, it’s all worth it.

  2. I need to go paperless too. After listening to Dave Ramsey I will not put anything in the trash that has my name or address on it. It all has to be shredded. I have caused myself a lot of work!

    Good luck on your goal to get out of debt in one year. I hope to have all of our debt paid off within two years including the house.

    ~ Debby

  3. My wife is an avid Ebay’er and definitely finds lots of good discounts. HOWEVER, she tends to find TOO MANY deals, and we often have clothes that the kids outgrow before they get a chance to wear them. (they are very young)

    Another piece of advice – don’t buy anything with Disney Princesses on them. Apparently, because of their popularity, any Disney Princess on a piece of clothing automatically adds 25% to the price in my experience. Bad news!

  4. I find lots of good stuff for my husband and son at Old Navy. I never have much luck for me and my daughter though. And I ALWAYS find stuff for both kids at the Children’s Place clearance sales.

    And debtfretter, I totally agree that accepting hand-me-downs and shopping second hand doesn’t mean skimping on quality. It’s a way to get good quality for less. :)

  5. I love shopping @ Goodwill. So much so, that for right now, I’ve had to stop going. I was spending 20.00/week, which is just unacceptable in our new budgeting era. When we get a bit more used to the budget and I’ve got some clothing $$ set aside, I’m going back.

    I always find the best stuff for me and the kids. My dh though, he will not wear 2nd hand stuff. I’m not sure what his deal is, but whatever. We can usually find really good off season clothing on clearance @ old navy, like pants for 3.00/each. He’s happy with that, so we’re all happy :)

  6. Oh Lynnae!! This is wonderful! My kids PREFER to get “hand me downs” because the people we get them from are “kewl” LOL! They think it is great and I always get good stuff at Goodwill and Savers (another Goodwill type store) IN FACT when we were in Arizona and I needed work clothes, suits and such, I bought them at Savers for at most 1/8th of what they’d be brand new and they were in beautiful shape!!

  7. Great article, Lynnae! I have not bought many items at all for my nearly-2-year-old. He received so much as a newborn, and then not long after a friend of a friend offered me a box of clothes, half of which had been worn by the child only once or twice. I happily accepted these, as well as a selection of more obviously used clothes, which are great for when we are hanging out at home or when he goes to daycare.
    As for toys, I was just thinking I’d like to get my boy a train set when my hubby came home from a friend’s place with this fantastic train set with a little castle, train tracks and roads! He also brought home a Little Tikes ark complete with Noah and animals! They were fantastic … and free! And I am not the least bit embarrassed to accept. I rang our friends and thanked them. It was almost like Christmas for me too!
    Anyway, the point is, you can shop at second-hand stores and accept gifts for friends, yet still retain a discerning eye for quality.

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