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Save Money on Clothes for the Family

Updated on November 26, 2017

Shop Clearance

Clothes seasons run crazy.  They start clearing out the winter gear and put out the bathing suits in January.  As more and more summer garb comes in, the discounts get deeper and deeper on the winter merchandise that is left.  February and March are great months to start buying winter clothes.

Likewise, the winter clothes usually go out at the beginning of August.  That is a great time to buy next year's summer clothes.  

Walmart, Target, Old Navy, Dillard's, Sears, JCPenney, and Younkers are great places to find clearance items for dimes on the dollar.

Discount Stores

When I was little, Value City was the big discount store.  It was kind of like Big Lots, with cast-offs from other stores.  They had a huge variety of clothes.  Everyone shopped there, and no one talked about it.

Big Lots typically doesn't have a large selection of clothes, but often you can find great buys on underwear and socks there.

If you live in the southeast, Burkes and Beales are great places to find bargains.  Again, they get older inventory from stores like American Eagle and Old Navy.

Before going out clothes shopping for the family, keep these places in mind.  Not only can you find great deals, but lots of times you can find unique clothes.

Clearance racks are usually located towards the backs of the departments
Clearance racks are usually located towards the backs of the departments

"Big Sales" Stores

There are several stores that come to mind when I think of buy clothes on the cheap.  Kohl's, Old Navy, Gordman's, and Deb are first on the list.

These stores always seem to have several racks of clearance, with very deep discounts.  Kohl's also likes to send out coupons for $10 off any purchase, which always means someone is getting a new shirt in our house.  

Wait for the big sales and the turn of the clothing seasons
Wait for the big sales and the turn of the clothing seasons

Thrift Stores

Salvation Army, DAV, and of course, Goodwill are great places to look for inexpensive, previously worn clothes.  I personally like shopping for jeans second hand because I can buy a size smaller since whoever wore them before already stretched them out and broke them in!  

There are many types of thrift stores, and most of them are quite reasonable.  

Lots of times there is a discount "day" or a day when there is a certain percentage off of a certain colored tag.  Take note of that day, and go early to see if you can outfit your family for a few bucks.  I went today to my local Goodwill, bought a pair of flannel pajamas, a sweater, three shirts, a Wilson leather jacket, and a sweatshirt (that I refashioned!) for $1.75. 

Flaws to look for at the Thrift Store

Look for the following before purchasing:

  • holes in the armpits
  • working zippers & snaps (especially on baby clothes)
  • shredded jeans bottoms (from being walked on instead of hemmed)
  • stains
  • missing buttons
If you are buying an item like a coat or purse that cannot be washed, make sure to check the smell.


My Goodwill has a "quarter day" once a week, and my local Salvation Army has "$1" day. On these days, clothes with a particular colored tag are marked down. This is when I buy a little less discriminately. Bootleg jeans can very easily become skinny jeans for your teen. A man's sweater can be a cute belted sweater-dress. I even bought a jailbird Halloween costume once and changed it into a ruffled shirt that looked like it came from anthropolgie.  Just check out the trendy catalogs and get to work!

A refashioned shirt
A refashioned shirt | Source

Consignment Shops

Consignment shops are a good place to look if you have something to carry into the store.  Otherwise, they are usually pricier than a thrift store, with about the same amount of selection. 

Look around your home in January and July - when the clothes seasons are changing in the stores.  Lots of these stores will take back children's clothes, maternity clothes, toys, potties, accessories, bottles, bibs, cloth diapers - the list is endless. 

Call before going - some shops require you to make an appointment if you are going to sell back to them.  You can also ask at that time if they are taking the particular items you have to bring in.  If they don't, try another store.

Some stores will give pay you straight out for your items, where others are true consignment shops and will put your items out and credit your account as those items sell.  Typically, with the true consignment shops, you get a certain percentage if you "cash out," and a larger percentage if you use it as a store credit.

The people who work at these stores usually have a pretty keen eye, but I would still check for flaws on the items.  These people can also be a wealth of information on how to get particular stains out of clothes and how to clean certain pieces of baby accouterments.   It was at a consignment shop where I learned to clean a Pack N Play, that you take it to the car wash then leave it in the sun to dry.  Works like a charm!

Garage Sales/Yard Sales

Garage Sales are a good source for used clothing at decent prices. Go early in the morning to get the best selection. Go later in the day to get the best price. By the end of the day, people are tired of haggling and are not wanting to pack their belongings up again.

Dicker with people on prices if it is appropriate. If they have a kid's outfit labeled at $5, it would probably be inappropriate for you to offer them 50¢. You could find a couple other items, and offer to give them the $5 for all three items.

You can buy huge lots at the end of the day for usually dimes on the dollar!
You can buy huge lots at the end of the day for usually dimes on the dollar!

Ebay/Craigs List

I had a particular shirt I LOVED.  I still look for someone to have it on Ebay, and when I look for it, I see lots of clothes on there for sale very cheaply.  Buying used clothes, though, can be a little tricky, because Susy Seller may think that those 10 pairs of boy's jeans she's selling are in pretty good condition, but Betty Buyer gets them and the knees look almost threadbare to her.  


If you are a member of your local Freecycle group, then you have probably seen people posting bags and bags of clothes on there.  I was very skeptical, until one day someone had posted that they had an entire lawn and garden bag full of professional clothes, in my size.  I emailed her and arranged to pick them up.  When I got there, she had two bags for me - one with the dressy clothes, the other was full of warm-up suits and Iowa Hawkeyes T-shirts.  It was an amazing score!


I grew up a hand-me-down kid. Of course, my clothes had belonged to my uncle who was six years older than me...

If someone offers their outgrown or cast-off clothes, take them. Ooo and ahh over them, and when you are at home, you can pick and choose which things you will let your kid wear, and then hand the rest down to the next person.

If you have multiple children, hopefully you already have a hand-me-down system going.  I know twice a year we have "clothes swapping."  Unfortunately, my boys are going to be in the same size clothes by next winter and we won't be able to hand anything down.

Make Them

It pains me to buy patterns and fabric, because typically I can buy anything that I can make for a fraction of the cost.  But for some people, it is a better option.  I like to buy patterns at the thrift store. 

Always use coupons at the fabric store!  

Invest in...

There are several things you don't want to scrimp on, so don't.  I'm not going to list these things because I think they are different for each person.  My husband doesn't scrimp on socks.  A pair of his socks cost more than my outfit on just about any given day.  Me?  I typically don't scrimp on shoes.  I will wear a 75¢ outfit with $80 shoes and feel perfectly complete.  The only reason why I don't buy all my shoes at thrift stores is because I can't ever seem to find my size in cute shoes.  

Online Clearance

There are lots of great deals to be found online as well.  Most online stores have a "clearance" tab or section, and most will let you sort by price.


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    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 7 years ago

      I agree with you wannab! I usually save those $10 Kohls q's and buy something for, well, ME! We have a boatload of new clothes in our home right now that did NOT come from the thrift store! Can you believe that? Oh, and did I mention that the kids' GRANDMOTHER just left!? hehehe...

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 7 years ago from Iowa

      You have gone into the depths of this topic and shown the way. I know many people are extremely loyal Kohls shoppers because of the Kohl's bucks and $10 coupons. I must agree that I like to shop there and get new stuff compared to going to the thrift store, but I buy most of my kids' clothes at thrift stores because I know they will outgrow them so quickly!

    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 7 years ago

      Awesome advice Susan! I know several people who buy all classics as far as clothing and then some trendier accessories in order to still be fashionable but budget conscious.

    • Susan Miles profile image

      Susan Miles 7 years ago

      Great information! I love to clothes shop twice a year, off season. I only buy the basics. Clothing I know I will use. Since styles can change so fast, I stick to the classics.

    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 7 years ago

      That's great to simplify with your clothes. We have a policy of every time a "new" comes in, and "old" goes out. Thanks for the awesome!

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 7 years ago from NY

      Big fan for saving money on clothes. I have given away so many clothes over the past year, trying to keep everything simple and less clutter. I can remember getting hand me down cloths from my older cousins when I was younger and loved it. We couldn't afford new cloths all the time and these hand me downs always felt like new to me.

      Shopping for winter clothes when the summer stuff is coming out is a great idea, they don't want to be stuck with winter inventory going into spring and offer great discounts.

      Love it and rate it awesome!


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