Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tips for Saving on Kids Clothes

Before I was a parent, I always heard other parents say how quickly their kids would grow out of clothes and shoes. They made it sound like their kid wore something once, they blinked, and it didn't fit anymore. Since joining the mommy club, I can tell you this is 100% true. At least with clothes--my kids seem to have the world's slowest growing feet...which is great for my wallet I suppose! 
We have been beyond blessed in the clothing department. Part of it stems from the fact that our oldest daughter was the first grandchild for all 3 sets of her grandparents, part of it is that we have amazing family and friends who love our kids, and part of it is that we have a few friends with kids older than ours. Oh, and then there's the fact that I refuse to spend a lot of money dressing my kids in something they are going to wear 2 or 3 times if I'm lucky. BUT all of this does not mean that we've sacrificed style or quality and I'm going to tell you how I've done it. 
Take inventory of what your child has, and take it often. Inventory what they need for the upcoming season or size. By doing this, you will know what to be on the look out for, and you can use this as gift ideas for people who ask. For example, my oldest daughter will be turning 3 in September. I know that she only has a few long sleeved 3T shirts. I also know that there will be a few people who will ask for birthday gift ideas, so this will be something I can tell them as it will coincide perfectly going into the cooler weather. This also helps me when I see something cute at the store that I want to pick up for her. I'll know whether or not she has a lot of items in that size and season.
This one can be tricky at times, but it can really pay off! Shop ahead by shopping end of the season clearance. My mom is the QUEEN of this. She'll show up with gobs and gobs of clothes for my kids that she paid pennies for. Literally. I learned from the best here. The stores that we have found the most success with this are Kohl's, JC Penney, and Target. I'm sure there are others out there that are awesome as well! These stores will often offer 70-90% off of end of the season clearance! At a store like Kohl's you can stack this deal with a 30% off coupon and be paying less than $1 for a brand new outfit. The reason it can be tricky is that sometimes it is hard to know what size your child will be wearing in a year. You have to do your best to guess. I have 2 philosophies on this. One is that when you are paying such a low price, the worst case scenario is that it doesn't fit and you lost a dollar or two. Two is that it's better to buy big than small. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I went after Christmas shopping to try to get the girls Christmas outfits for the next year. I was due in March so my daughter would be 9 months the next Christmas. I could have either gone with 9 months or 12 months and it was hard to say. I ended up buying 12 months because I figured it would be better to be too big than too small and then she couldn't wear it at all. I have a tote going at all times for clothes bigger than the size my oldest daughter is currently in, and that's where all of these gems go! Seriously, you have to do this. My mom came last Christmas with an entire suitcase full of clothes she had gotten my daughters at the end of summer, and I would guess it is about 1/2 or more of their current summer wardrobe! Other stores that have great clearance, but not QUITE as big as the stores I listed above are Children's Place, Old Navy and Carter's.
Hand-me-downs can be very hit or miss. We have gotten some incredible ones, and we have gotten some questionable ones. The great thing about hand-me-downs is that you can accept them, and then sort through them at home. If there's something you don't like or isn't in good shape, send it to your donation pile. We have certainly received things that don't quite fit our style, or are pretty worn, but the great thing about them is that even then, you can keep them for play clothes, or pajamas! Say like it's a shirt with a cat on it and you really hate cats. Then let your kiddo play in the mud with it on, then you have nothing to worry about! Honestly, I think that majority of people who give you hand-me-downs will sort through them first and pull out the really used stuff. At least in our case. We have been super blessed in this area through the generosity of several friends! Let people know that you are open to them, if someone asks, and you will probably continue to receive some throughout your children's childhoods. I have also gotten hand-me-downs from friends for a super cheap price. I have a few friends with kids a year or two older than mine, who will get rid of clothes annually and I'll snatch them right up! I got this Target dress from a friend for 50 cents, in perfect condition. This is my oldest daughter at 9 months--is she the cutest or what?! 

Buying baby and kid clothes at garage sales is probably what first got me hooked on getting kid clothes for cheap! If you go to the right ones, you can hit the jackpot! Typically when I am buying clothes at a garage sale I look for a few things. Is it stained/does it have holes? Does it smell like smoke? What brand is it? How cheap is it? The reason I look at the brand is because if it is a Target brand shirt and they are asking $2 for it, this can easily seem like a steal, but it was probably only $5 new, and I could probably get it for not much more than they are asking with sales/cartwheel/coupons, and brand new. So I avoid those brands usually, unless it's a really good price and really cute! This is where I get the "nicer" brands, like Gymboree, Gap, etc. I scored my daughter a few pairs of brand new Gap jeans for $1 a couple of years ago. I have found garage sale-ing to become a bit trickier (but still definitely do-able) as my girls get older. I think because kids wear their clothes for longer, so it is harder to find used clothes in good condition the older they get. As babies, I know my girls would sometimes wear something once or twice before they outgrew it, but now my oldest can wear things for a year or more. There are a lot of people out there who are still selling brand new or barely worn clothes at every age, though!
I have found that it's really hard to find clothes for your babes for cheap if you are picky about the brand. It's ok to be picky about brands, if you want to be! But in the case of trying to find clothes for super cheap, it makes it a lot harder. JC Penney might not carry the "coolest" brands, but they still have adorable stuff sometimes, and for prices you can't beat. I honestly love being able to tell people where I bought something when they compliment it and watch their jaws drop. I have had so many conversations like that over this dress from Wal Mart. It was $4.97 and most people don't believe me that I got it there. I mean really, how cute is it?! She's been wearing it all summer and I'll be sad when she outgrows it! 

Consignment stores or sales are easy places to fall into a trap. The trap where you think you're getting something for super cheap, and you actually aren't. This is another place you want to look at brands. I went to a big kids consignment sale this past spring, and I was looking at Target and Wal Mart brand shirts that they had listed for $6-$8. That is MORE than what they probably were in the store! Silly. It is easy for people to look at a price tag and think "Oh, 5 bucks, that's cheap!" But it may not be a good deal. I'm not saying there are never good deals at these places, I just don't find them often. This is not somewhere I get clothes often because it is usually not worth the time and effort of going through all the racks and price tags to find one or two things that still cost me 3 times what it would at a garage sale or on clearance. Other places to be careful with this are instagram shops, and online "garage sales" via Facebook or Craigslist.
I keep a tote in my girls' closet that I throw clothing items in when they aren't fitting. I didn't used to do it this way. When they were babies, I would switch out all of their clothes at once and move up to the next size. The problem is that there would be some clothes in a size that still fit great, some that were too small, and some that were too big. Keeping a bin in their room allows me to throw something in when I notice it's not fitting. Because I am lazy, this works out a lot better for me than going down to the basement, finding the tote holding the right size, and putting a few things in every couple weeks. This is also super helpful for taking inventory. If you keep clothes in their closet or dresser that don't fit, it'll look like they have a lot more workable clothes than they do. This gives you a realistic idea of how they are doing in that size and what they need more of! 

Do you have any other tips for finding kids clothes for cheap?! 
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  1. Girls clothes is such a hard thing. I love eBay! I recently got Georgia a 13.00 (free shipping) smocked dress. I know a lot of people see smocked dresses as expensive which they very well can be but they are SO forgiving size wise. Most of Georgia's smocked clothes she's worn two seasons if not more because of the large hem in them that can be let out. So, I may have paid 20$ for a dress (or more) but she wore it two Christmas's in a row...just an example. I LOVE the 5$ walmart dresses though. So great for HOT TX summers!

  2. I love this post! I openly admit that I shop too much for my kiddos (I love shopping for my kids way more than myself!) but I'd say 80% of their wardrobe I buy on sale!

    I love your organization ideas for sorting clothes, I need to be better about that. Both of my kids have clothes that are too big and too small mixed in with their current wardrobes and it's driving me crazy. I need to stick a bin in their closets TODAY!


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