Saving money on kids’ clothes is a core financial mindset for me. Buying a new wardrobe for 5 people at every change of the season would bankrupt us. So we use several strategies to keep clothing costs down.
The most important is buying secondhand.
We get lots of hand-me-downs, but those usually come with clothing that is stained or ruined in other ways or clothes with messages that I won’t let my kids wear. So I often need things like seasonal clothes, shoes, or to fill in gaps.
But even with all those hand-me-downs, we still have to buy clothes. We only buy used clothes because on average, they resale for about 1/3 of their original price. Personally, I won’t pay more than $5 for a pair of shoes and spend about $2.50 for an outfit.
Before You Buy Used Clothes for your Kids
Never go to the store without a list. Lists will keep you focused on what you need! Without a list, you run the risk of buying too much or missing something you need. And that means you may not end up saving money on kids clothes at all.
I usually start about a week before the major second hand sale. Since we always have hand me downs, I have to go through what we have.
Then, I make a list of what we have and what we need! It helps me get organized, and I shop knowing I haven’t forgotten anything, and I won’t buy something we don’t need.
Saving Money on Kids’ Clothes Secondhand
1.) The store does matter.
In my town, Goodwill has a great selection at great prices, but a store called Dads and Lads/Magnolia’s has better selection at slightly more expensive prices. The local Humane Society also runs a store that has nice clothes at the cheapest prices in town but the selection is small.
2.) Shop for it before you need it.
Often, it may take several trips to get what you need so if you need it and can’t find it, there will be pressure to just buy it new.
3.) Don’t take your kids.
Secondhand stores often have toys, out of the boxes of course, within kids’ reach so kids end up being more of a distraction than help.
4. ) Only buy what you need.
A good deal isn’t a good deal if it collects dust instead of being used.
5.) Have an inventory.
I go through what each of my children already have, write what they need and how many, what sizes, and stick to it.
6.) Go on half price day.
I rarely spend more than $3 on a piece of clothing because I only shop on half price days.
7.) Shop as little as possible.
If possible, only shop 2x a year. I am lucky to have a local business called Rhea Lana’s which is a 2x a year “kids’ consignment event”.
8.) Check seams, for stains, and for wear.
9.) Shop on Facebook Marketplace/Craigslist/Threadup.
People will sell lots (meaning a complete group) of kids clothes around season changes. So they will sell all their 2T summer clothes during the fall or winter for very, very cheap or even for barter with goods you already own or for services you perform, like cleaning or babysitting.
10.) Shoes are the hardest thing to find in good condition.
I shop for shoes on the first day of sales so I can get nice ones before the stock gets picked over.
11.) Bring an outline of your kids’ feet on paper.
Cut it out and compare shoes with the outline. I almost always buy whatever size fits, plus one size up in case my kid’s hit a growth spurt, we don’t have to rush out for shoes.
12.) Before checking out, peruse your choices.
Look for clothes that seem to run small and pull those out. Buying secondhand really magnifies how different brands run different sizes.
I also use time to INSPECT my choices for wear like stains, holes, loose seams, missing buttons, etc. I also check shoes for loose soles or inside wear.
Marketplace Safety Tips
1.) When you buy off of Facebook, always meet in a public place.
Our local police department has a set corner in their parking lot for safe exchanges.
2.) Check the clothes before you pay.
Pull out a few items to make sure they match the picture and are in the stated condition.
5.) Wash before use.
You can sanitize clothes at home, without messing up the color by boiling in a large stockpot for 20 minutes. You can also use peroxide and borax to sanitize. Please leave me a comment if you want a tutorial on how to do that.