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!)
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 Save1.com 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?