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.