I’ve seen kids — little tiny kids — with dozens of pairs of shoes, multiple jackets and tons of clothes. I’ve been in homes where there are bins and bins and bins of kids’ clothes in cupboards, under stairs, in basements. Hey, if you want to go broke buying stuff for a child (who really doesn’t care), there are plenty of retailers ready to take your money (or more likely, your credit.)
Want to save on keeping your kids clothed. Try these 6 tips:
1. Keep an inventory of your kids’ stuff
I don’t care how much you’ve saved by shopping smart, if you forget about it because it’s tucked away, you’ve wasted money. Keep a running list of all your kids’ stuff by child. Highlight the stuff you can pass down. When a piece no longer works for anyone in the family, get rid of it.
2. Stock up at the end of a season
You have to be pretty sure about your kids’ growth patterns to do this and I found it worked right up to about age 10. After that, the rate at which they grew became too unpredictable. At the end of a season, when stuff goes on sale for 70% off (February for winter wear, August for summer stuff), stock up on the next size of clothes. Don’t go nuts because the sales are so good. Make a list using your clothing inventory as a guide before you head out the door and stick to the list.
3. Buy mix-and-match pieces
Particularly when kids are young and don’t care, you can dress them all season in pieces of just two colours paired with neutrals and make their wardrobe go much further. Remember, they’re going to outgrow the stuff before they wear it out, so getting as many wears as you can out of each piece makes a lot of sense.
4. Shop second-hand stores
Since kids grow at a wicked clip, they can zoom out of their clothes before they’ve worn them out. Take advantage of that by shopping for other people’s gently worn pieces in second-hand stores and at garage sales. Expect to pay 20¢ on the dollar at a garage sale, and about 1/3 to 1/2 price in a second-hand store. Which brings me to…
5. Sell your old stuff
I know it’s easier to just give it away, but if you’ve got some good pieces that can fetch a little money, why not take it to a consignment or second hand store. You’ll be building up some cash or credits for the next time you need something new.
6. Hold a clothing-swap party
For those pieces that may be more than gently used, have a clothing swap party with friends who have kids of different ages. Trade your stuff for stuff you can use. And don’t limit your swap party to just clothes. Toys, books, and equipment (baby monitors or skates) can all be exchanged so that you’re not shelling out quite so much money to keep your kids well outfitted.