Quite a few months ago, I mentioned in 5 Ways to S-t-r-e-t-c-h a Budget that we save a lot of money on clothing for our children, and I promised to share details later on. Well, I’m finally getting around to it!
Clothing expenses can easily burden a larger-than-average family, especially a family living on a single income. In our home, when we have a budget issue, our first method of attack is to pray. We try to pray for our needs before we even begin to attempt to meet them (of course, we don’t always remember to pray first). And when we remember, we pray for wisdom to be good stewards of the finances God has blessed us with, as well.
Here are 9 specific ways in which we save money on clothing for our children.
Clothing for Free!
Since we have three boys, this money-saving technique worked very well for us until we had our first girl (aside from our oldest’s tendency to wear holes in the knees of his pants in his elementary years). Save the clothing that isn’t stained or sporting holes in a well-labeled, clear plastic tote for the next child.
Pros: no expense necessary after the initial purchase!
Cons: some items will wear out after several children.
- Tips: Do not get rid of clothing (even if your youngest child is a different gender from older siblings) until you are certain you will not be having more children! Also, buy quality clothing whenever possible (find out how to save on new clothing in part 2 of this post) because the clothes will last longer. Finally, If you have no hand-me-downs to begin with, be willing to accept them from others in your circle – family, church family, friends, neighbors, etc. I can’t tell you how many times even our neighbors became the answer to prayers for our clothing needs, especially when we found out we were having twins!
2. Swap Clothing
Find a friend or group of friends to swap clothing with. For several years, I swapped cloths with a friend who had a son older than our youngest boy and a daughter younger than ours. So, she traded her toddler boy clothes for my toddler girl clothes. We also received clothes for our daughter from church family; these clothes had been through two other families before ours! Search for a large, organized clothing swap in your area, or even organize one of your own.
Pros: No extra spending necessary!
Cons: Storage space needed for totes.
Gently Used Clothing
Thred-up (www.thredup.com) is an online site for both buying and selling quality, second-hand children’s clothing (and women’s, as well). Once you sign up for a membership using your e-mail address, you are free to purchase. If you want to earn store credit by selling items you no longer need, you’ll want to request a bag from them. Fill the bag up as much as you can, send it in and they will give you a price quote.
Pros: receiving credit for clothing you send in; clothing is well-screened.
Cons: online only store means no trying things on; paying for shipping costs as well.
E-bay is another online site for both buying and selling, although it’s not solely for clothing. Again, you can sell your gently-used items to earn money to buy what your family needs. Additionally, you might find brand new clothing listed for lower than retail.
Pros: ability to earn by selling.
Cons: clothing isn’t screened; can’t try on clothes; shipping costs.
- Tips: when buying on e-bay, please be careful to choose a seller with a high feedback rating. Also, if you need a large amount of clothing, listings for clothing “lots” will give you the best value for your money.
5. Garage Sales
My favorite way to save money on clothes is to buy them at garage sales. By far, yard sales average the lowest prices for gently used clothing. I’m a bargain shopper, so shopping at yard sales is just a lot of fun for me, especially when I find items we really need. Of course, not all garage sales are equal, so I still watch prices carefully.
Pros: fun to shop; best prices.
Cons: seasonal in our area; quality of clothing varies.
- Tips: when buying at garage sales, you can buy more than a year ahead if the price is right and if your budget allows. Buying ahead will save you money in the long run. Be sure to store your items in well-labeled, clear plastic totes or you may forget/overlook some like I did last year!
Click here for part two of 9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes , including more ways to shop for gently used clothing and how to take advantage of end of season clearance sales to buy brand new clothing at second-hand prices! Until then remember: when you are offered hand-me-downs or when you find great prices at a garage sale or even the clearance section, think long-term. Don’t accept or buy only what you need for the current season (unless it will break the budget to do otherwise), but plan for a size or two ahead!
Of course, as with anything in life, learning to save money is another one of those work-in-progress areas. The best way to be a good financial steward is to cover all of your budgeting and spending decisions in prayer. I know I often forget to go to the Lord first even though He promises to provide. I’m not always the best at trusting in Him to provide, but He is able, sisters!
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