Finding Children's Clothes for Cheap
Raising a child can be pretty costly. Raising two or more children can get pretty expensive. Purchasing clothes for your children can really add up. They just don't seem to stop growing! I have found some ways to help trim these costs, hopefully they will help you too.
First, reuse items when you can. Hand-me-downs are a good thing! I love to see my younger kids in outfits that my older kids have worn. It reminds me of my older children at a younger age and I think it is so sweet. Imagine an outfit that three girls wore, what memories that will bring back for you! Pajamas can be worn by anyone. My 2 year old daughter is currently wearing navy blue fleece pj's. All four of my kids wore these pajamas. No one sees her but us and we all know she is a girl - navy blue pajamas or not.
Second, purchase clothes from a consignment store. Consignment stores usually have clothes in pretty good shape, for a fraction of the cost of retail. Most consignment stores do not accept clothes that are torn or have stains, so generally you can be assured of getting a good quality item. I have found exceptions to this though, so still look the items over carefully before purchasing. One thing to consider is the return policy. Many consignment stores only offer a short time frame for returns.
Third, look for items at garage sales. I have had great success with garage sales over the years. Especially for younger children who outgrow their clothes before they are worn out. I have also had good luck with finding coats, boots, and dress clothes at garage sales, even for older kids. The cost of garage sale items is greatly reduced from retail or even consignment store prices. You do have to look things over very carefully for stains or holes. There are generally no returns on garage sale items and you don't want to get stuck with something that you can not use because you overlooked a stain on the back.
Fourth, consider purchasing clothes on Ebay.I have bought and sold sets of clothing on Ebay with great success. Especially play clothes. You can get a large group of clothing in a particular size for a small amount per piece. Make sure there are photos of the items and if you are unsure you can always ask for more photos. Ebay charges per photo posted, however many sellers are happy to email you more photos if it means more bids on their items. If a seller is hesitant to show pictures or give a good description of what they are selling, you probably don't want to purchase from him anyway. Again, returns are probably not an option, so make sure it will work for you. Asking for exact measurements is a good idea if you are unsure of how a brand fits. Don't forget to consider shipping charges on the auction. Many times sellers will over charge for shipping to make extra money, so pay attention.
Fifth, check out Craigslist.I have had great luck selling groups of clothes on Craigslist and intend to try to purchase clothing items on there soon. You do get to actually look at the items in person before purchasing, which is a good thing. You will generally have to do the picking up and most sellers will want to be paid in cash only. Again returns are not available, but having looked the items over before purchasing, you should be able to tell if it is something that will work for you or not.
Sixth, shop the sales or clearance racks. As my kids get older I am having a harder and harder time finding decent clothes second hand. Eight year old boys are very hard on their clothes, therefore what I do find is generally stained or has holes. Shopping the sales racks (everything goes on sale eventually, oftentimes only a couple of weeks after it was first introduced) has helped me to keep the costs down on outfitting my older children. I look at every store I go into that has clothes. You never know what you will find. It will probably be out of season when it is on a great clearance, but shopping ahead of time will save you money and time. When your child has a growth spurt and grows two inches overnight, you can pull out the box of clothing in the next size up, purchased at garage sales, clearance racks, etc and you have a new wardrobe. No running out to the store trying to find something at the last minute that will fit, at full price.
Seventh, plan ahead for your children's next sizes. I know that my son will be in a size 10 eventually. So, for the past year or so I have been looking at garage sales, consignment stores and clearance racks. I don't spend hours of time each week on this, I just keep my eyes open for items that will work. I went through the box today and I already have several shirts for next winter and shorts for next summer. All purchased for $1 or under.
Eighth, consider giving clothing as gifts. Most kids have too many toys as it is and an outfit or two for their birthday will generally go over fine. Especially if it has something on it that the child is intersted in. Does your four year old love Bob the Builder? How about an outfit with Bob on it? Most kids will get excited over that if the character is something they really like. Even older kids will appreciate clothing as well, if it is well chosen. My oldest son wanted a hoodie when he was six. We had already purchased all of his winter clothing before he decided he wanted one. One of his Christmas presents was a hoodie, which he absolutely loved.
Ninth, purchase generic clothing. A sweatshirt with an elephant on it can be worn by anyone. We have a long sleeve t-shirt with a monkey on it. Three of my children have worn this shirt and it still looks great. No one can really say whether the shirt was meant to be a girl's shirt or a boy's shirt, you just couldn't tell. Pajamas can be the same way. Purchase neutral colors and they can be used for either gender.
Tenth, don't forget clearance sales at online stores as well. Generally places like Old Navy or The Gap will run great clearance sales, with free shipping if you spend over a certain amount. The selection of items and sizes will usually be greater than at the store, because they are pulling from the actual warehouse, not one small store. This has worked well in the past for me, as I am purchasing for four children. If buying for only one child, it could be hard to find enough great deals in one size clothing to meet the minimum for free shipping, which would make the deal not so great in the end.
Last, consider swapping or borrowing from a friend. Do you have a six year old boy and a four year old girl and your neighbor has a six year old girl and a four year old boy? Why not swap clothes as the kids grow out of them. You give her your boy clothes as your son grows out of them and she can give you her girls clothes as she grows out of them. Do you have a sibling that has kids older than yours? Can you borrow their outgrown clothing? Don't forget to share what your children have outgrown as well though.
When it comes to dressing your children, full price at a retail store is the last thing you should consider. Kids grow so fast and are so hard on clothes, that it just doesn't make sense to pay full price for anything. Especially when there are so many ways to save money on children's clothing.