Because Kids Keep Growing {Saving Money on Children’s Clothing}

Saving Money on Children's Clothing

So.  As it turns out, my kids keep growing right out of their clothes.  How dare they!  😉  With 5 children in the house, the prospect of keeping them dressed in decent, clean clothing that fits and doesn’t break the bank is slightly daunting.  And as our children get older and need “specialty items” (ie. soccer cleats) and start to have stronger opinions about what they wear, the challenge is on!

While I want them to be comfortable, clean, and cute, I’m not interested in my children wearing all the latest fashions from the most popular stores.  It’s best they learn that good enough is good enough nice and early in life.  I do, however, use a few strategies to keep all of us happy.


Know what you have and what you need.

Last week was Seasonal Clothing Swap week at our house.  (Never mind that it snowed just this morning.)  I got the 9, 7, and 5 year olds swapped out, with just the littles left.  We have 3 girls, 2 boys, and lots of clothing.

As we went through things to put away and things to use from storage, we tried to be mindful of what fit well and what they really liked.  Something I’ve learned well the more kids we have is that our kids have too many clothes.  There’s no sense in overbuying and not getting good use out of the items you buy.

As we filled drawers, I inventoried items on a piece of paper.  Which tops worked with which bottoms.  What dressier items we have. Then we were able to make a (very short!) list of what we still need.  This is important, because as tempting as it is to grab random items on clearance, those shorts will do you no good in the basement storage with tags on it if you have so many pair of shorts that you forget about them.  (Ask me how I know!)

Embrace Hand-me-downs.

We have been so fortunate for many years.  A couple of (well dressed!) families in town have generously shared their girl clothing with us, and we’ve also been blessed by extended family who have children older than ours.  As the kids get older and bigger, the hand-me-downs are fewer, but wow we’ve saved a ton of money in the meantime!

Don’t be afraid to ask a family what they do with the clothes their kids grow out of.  They may just be thrilled to have a new home for those too-small clothes!  You could always barter child care or make them a meal in exchange for their generosity.

Utilize consignment stores for selling and buying.

Looks-like-new Nike baseball cleats for $2?  Yes, please!  Never mind that they were 3 sizes too big at the time.  We have a great little consignment store about 20 minutes away.  Store policies are all different, but with this one I take in a couple of boxes of seasonal items every few months.  I get 1/2 of whatever they sell for.  Last time I went in to the store, I found a couple of things for me.  When I went to check out, I had $22 cash from items I had sold.  Yipee!

By selling things we no longer need, we get cash to buy treasures (like $2 Nike cleats) that we do need.  We don’t have to spend our earnings there, but I like to support the store when I can, simply because they are doing a lot of legwork for me!

***Side note:  Garage sales are often great for kids’ clothes, if you have the time to get to them.  It’s very hit or miss, and I just don’t have that time right now.  If you find a particular house with clothing sizes perfect for your child, consider asking them about a seasonal “bulk buy.”  They may be thrilled to have a place to regularly sell clothes at garage sale prices without all the work!

Buy out of season.

I used to be the Queen of Seasonal Clearance.  I also used to buy way more than I needed, and some of that clearance went to waste.  As our family grows and our schedule fills I simply don’t have time for a lot of clearance browsing, but if I find a steal on a pair of track pants or jean shorts out of season, I buy.  It’s the right thing to do.

If somehow we don’t use the steal?  I can either 1) gift it, or 2) sell it.  Ebay sometimes does well, and people love finding new with tags items at the consignment store.

Shop online with coupon codes.

Truth?  My oldest child is getting a bit choosy about her clothes.  She’s also thin and needs “slim” pants and shorts.  We rarely have a free weekend to shop, but browsing online is fun for both of us!  I have had great luck finding free shipping and other coupon codes at sites like so that shopping from home is at least as inexpensive and even more convenient than a trip to town.

Clothing the kids definitely takes a chunk of change, but there’s no need to break the bank if you plan ahead, know what you have, and use your resources.  What are your favorite money-saving strategies when it comes to kids’ clothes? 

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  1. I have 2 resale stores in my area I love. I just got my 9 month old almost her entire summer wardrobe for about $40 bucks. I always seem to find some really good condition Gymboree sets for $5 and I GRAB THEM UP! The nice thing about buying name brand items used, you can normally resell them and make most of the money back. If I bring items into these resale shops, they buy the stuff they want on the spot and give me a 10% bonus if I choose store credit over cash, CHA CHING! I also Ebay A LOT! I too find so many items in my house with the tags still on, these go quick on Ebay!

  2. Cori May says:

    Twice a year I attend a sale put on by the local Mothers of Multiples group. I get most of my two kids’ clothes there. It has saved us a ton! I just can’t see paying full price for stuff while they’re still growing. It’s also the beginning of garage sale season, which I’m looking forward to for even more bargains! 🙂

  3. I am so overwhelmed with clothes! I have 4 boys and it should be easy but it seems like each kid hits each size in a different season etc. My 6 year old is a much more average or muscular build, whereas my 4 year old is a twig so the styles need to be different for the fit to be just right. And then there’s my 9 year old who is so darn picky about what he wears and how it fits/feels. and then theres my 9 month old who gets all new clothes each season, since mama decided while expecting his older sister, to get rid of every boy item that #3 had outgrown, since I didn’t plan on having any more (God took care of that though, with the arrival of #5! ) LOL. Clothes are an area where we are just a hot mess. LOL.

    • And boys are HARD on clothes! I’ve decided my best strategy is to purge frequently, and only keep what the “next in line” really likes.

  4. Kimberley says:

    Although it can’t be controlled, I love when the growth spurts happen in the summer. Shorts getting shorter, but not to short ;), are so much easier to deal with than the pants I bought one month ago having a hem sitting an inch above the ankles!

  5. I wish I could find someone local who has an older daughter and would pass on to Libbie. I think her hand-me-downs ran out about 2T. Booo.

    I definitely buy shoes as I find them. (Libbie’s Stride Rite size 10s sandals for this summer? I bought them at least a year ago … for $1.50.) Clothes can be more difficult, but if I find nice brands like Gymboree at the thrift store, I will buy a size or two up.

    My best strategy is ask my mom or my husband’s mom. Ha.

  6. My husband and I are both the babies of our families, so we have oodles of older nieces and nephews and lots of hand-me-downs– hooray! I’m having a hard-ish time finding someone to pass my son’s clothes on to, to be honest. I recently passed on two big bags of our 3yo’s outgrown girl clothes and was surprised with a $15 Dollar Tree gift card as a thank you. How fun! (I was just glad to have the clothes out of here. 😉 )

  7. Cheryl says:

    My two daughters (14 and 11) are both very tall for their ages and are in adult sizes. Thrift stores are our best bet. I just found 4 pairs of shorts and to skirts for $2 each! Can’t beat that 😉 I do sometimes luck out a garage sales, but not as often.

  8. I am organizing clothes to get rid of and I’m going to try a consignment shop! The past times I’ve gone, they haven’t been accepting new clothes. My backup plan will be selling them at our garage sale! Our baby is so tiny that he’s been in 6 month clothes for 3 months now and he’s almost 10 months… He is s w i m m i n g in 9 month clothes right now so they probably won’t fit for a while! Crazy.

  9. Lea Stormhammer says:

    I just did the “swap with my daughter. She’s 8. She’s also in a size 12 slim extra long for pants. That girl has legs! 🙂

    Her funny statement, since she usually wears skirts (since she’s so LONG) and leggings or bike shorts: Trying on her new (the 12s xLong) she said “Mom! These are waaaaayyyy too long!” My reply? “Um, no honey, those are just the right length. Your other jeans were just way too short!”

    My mom loves to sew and uses mostly fabric given to her or fabric that my daugther and I bought on clearance (love the half off clearance tags to get fabric for $1-$2/yd) to sew my daugher’s everyday and dress clothes – ditto for my son. Both children have school uniforms which I’ve been able to pick up either through the school uniform swap, at the thrift store around the corner from the school or on clearance. Anything else typically comes from clearance racks (my buy prices are under $2 for tops or skirts and under $5 for pants) or from hand-me-downs. Shoes are a whole additional story! LOL.

    Great suggestions!

  10. Sami Williams says:

    We just finished buying new summer Kids Clothing at Burlington Coat Factory. They really helped us stay within our budget. I like getting my kids new clothes, but I love saving money on them. The new Osh Kosh B’Gosh clothes were HALF what they were in the department stores. My kids look adorable in them and they are so durable.

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