One of the major expenses for parents is buying kid’s clothes. It seems that every time you turn around that a little one needs a new pair of jeans or your teenagers shoes are too tight. But the bright side is that there are many ways that you can find brand-name and stylish clothing for your kids without breaking the bank.
Create a Hand-Me-Around Circle
Many parents want to be able to hand down their children’s clothes to another family, but don’t have friends or family whose children are the right size. And every parent loves to get hand me down clothes for their own child. “A solution is to create a hand-me-around circle in the neighborhood with children of matching gender and staggered ages,” said Karen Carlson, director of education for the InCharge Education Foundation. Each family is matched with a family to pass on their clothes to while typically a different family passes down clothes to their children.
Shop Consignment Sales
Consignment sales are week or weekend long events where parents sell their gently used children’s clothing, toys and accessories to other parents. Sales range from small events at local churches to huge sales in large warehouses. “Moms can get great bargains on gently used brand name clothes and toys they love for their little ones and save tons of money because resale prices are typically only one-third that of retail,” said Katie Lennon with ConsignmentMommies.com, a website listing 1,800 sales and 750 stores around the country.
Since the high-quality, low-priced items are typically sold quickly, try to be at the sale when it opens. Many sales also offer early shopping to volunteers and if you need a large amount of clothing or baby items it is often well worth a few hours of your time. Bring a container to carry your items (strollers work great) and try if at all possible to leave your kids at home.
Buy a Season Ahead
One of the best ways to get brand name clothing for less is to buy your child’s clothes for next year at the end of the season. “I often purchase my twins clothing at the end of the season for the following year, that way you truly get the ultimate sales and then are prepared and organized when the season arrives,” said Carrie Carroll, founder of the TwinSource.com.
Coats are a great item to purchase ahead since children can wear coats a little big and the discounts can be significant on name brands, such as a $59 Lands End boys coat for $19 in late spring. Since styles and your children’s tastes can change from year to year, this strategy works best for basic items. Since many stores will only have limited merchandise at the end of the season, check out the store’s website for the most options of styles and sizes. Err on the side of buying a size that is too big since you can just hold it for another year.
If your child likes a specific brand of clothing, ebay is a great way to find gently used or sometimes even new clothing. For the best deals, view the items ending soonest and bid on auctions that are about to end. Be sure to check seller’s rating and read the description carefully to make sure no flaws are mentioned. If you are buying an already worn item, consider buying a size bigger since some clothes shrink with wear and wash.
Hit the Thrift Store Stores
Thrift stores are another way to save money, but are often a hit or miss proposition. Quality and selection of clothing varies dramatically from store to store so you may want to consider shopping at a Goodwill or other thrift store in upscale areas for the best selection. Ask the staff if they set out new items on a specific day to help time your visits.
Corecia Woo recently found different pieces of clothing for her 7-year-old daughter for under $50 dollars and was able to create 15 different outfits from her haul. One finds was even a pair of new looking Abercrombie sweat pants for $4.99 that retailed for $39.50. She advises going to a thrift store when you are not in a rush. “You need to take the time to check out most, if not all, of the items until you find that coveted piece,” said Woo.