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Finding Inexpensive Clothing when Buying Second Hand Isn't an Option
I used to have great luck finding all the clothing I needed for my kids at garage sales. If I couldn't find it there I could then find it at consignment stores. Even for my husband and I, I frequently found what we needed second hand. It was perfect. Then we moved and my kids got older. There are not a lot of garage sales here, the consignment stores are way over priced and older kids are just hard on their clothing and can be picky about styles. I began spending a lot of money on clothing and shoes and needed to find a better way.
Serious bargain shopping began in earnest for me about two years ago. Now it is such a habit, that I don't think twice about it. Every time I go into a clothing store I check out the clearance racks. Items on clearance racks are typically either out of season or end of the season things. That's OK, because I shop ahead as much as possible. This allows me to stretch my dollar much farther. Why should I pay $20 for a pair of winter pajamas in October, when I can pay $3 in March? By planning ahead I can outfit all four of my children for less than most people spend on one child.
Another way I save money on clothing is to use my credit card. Yes, I did just say that. After realizing how much we like LL Bean clothing, a few years ago I broke down and signed up for a credit card. I don't use it for everything, but I do for the big expenses and I make sure to pay it off every month. I haven't ever paid a fee or interest on this credit card, but it has certainly benefited me. I earn coupon dollars that I then use to shop the clearance section AND I get free shipping. I just ordered a pair of track pants for my daughter, a shirt for my husband and a shirt for me and I didn't pay a penny for it. Over the course of a year I earn $100 - $200 in coupon dollars and by shopping ahead and buying off the clearance section I am able to get free clothing. Is there a store like that for you? Or can you earn points to redeem for gift cards to local stores? It could be worth looking into.
Outlet malls are becoming more and more prevalent and can offer you great deals. I needed some new shirts recently and headed to the outlet malls instead of the real mall. I got three shirts from Ann Taylor, Bass and Banana Republic for $30 total. Retail, at full price, was over $80. Even if you have to drive a bit farther, it can be worth it for the great prices.
Taking good care of the clothing you have will make it last longer and with children's stuff, it could make the difference in whether you can hand it down or not. Treat stains right away, line dry if possible, mend as needed, hang up or fold neatly, etc and your clothing will last longer. If you have both boys and girls, try to buy generic when you can, especially in pajamas, since typically only the family sees them. A red t-shirt is a red t-shirt and can be worn by anyone.
I have found that at some ages, it doesn't matter how much you spend on pants, they are still going to get a hole in them. Buy the cheap pants and it won't hurt so badly when you have to replace them. Better yet, have you heard of the Sears Kidvantage program? Sign your kids up and buy their clothes there. If they wear them out before they outgrow them, Sears will replace them for free. Now that is a great deal!
It took me awhile to figure this one out, but kids should really have school clothes (nicer stuff) and play clothes. When they want to go play in the woods or the mud, make them wear their grungiest stuff. After a few shirts got ruined immediately by my kids jumping off swings and getting the sleeves caught, I started making them wear those shirts every time we were headed to the park. Now only a few shirts have holes and the rest are still in good shape.
Ask for clothing as gifts. As the kids get older and become more interested in clothing they start to like getting clothes as gifts. Is there something special they really want but is out of your clothing budget? It could make a great gift, either from you or a relative. Or you can get the child a gift card to the store that sells it and they can use it and some of their own money to get the wanted item. For younger kids, anything with their favorite character on it will go over well.
Another way to save money on clothing is to not buy as much. One or two dress outifts, a few play outfits and a handful of nicer "school" outfits will suffice. Buying a few basic pieces that can mix and match will help make a larger wardrobe for less money. A child doesn't need Crocs in every color. Having just a few pairs of shoes is sufficient. In the summer sandal type shoes, dress shoes and tennis shoes are all you need and in the winter, dress shoes, tennis shoes and boots will do just fine.
That being said, there are some things where buying in large quantities can help you save money in the long run. think about socks for a minute. If you have one nice pair of brown socks and one gets a hole in it, you have to throw away both socks (or put them in the rag bag). If you have five pairs of the same type of sock and one gets a hole in it, you can still wear the other sock, because it matches four other pairs. Rotating it in with the others will make them last longer, saving you money in the long run.
Kids grow fast and can be very hard on their clothing. If you can't find what you need second hand, use some of these tips to make shopping for clothes easier on the pocket book. If you are looking to buy new clothing for your family, but still want to save money, these tips should really help you.