How To Buy Kids Clothes On a Budget

2 June 2015

kids final

This past week I did some major cleaning in my basement. My daughter’s preschool is having a garage sale to raise some money, so I donated multiple boxes. Of all the things I donated, my kid's clothes dominated the boxes.  Before the boxes went to the sale, I invited two friends over to look through for clothes for their girls.

As we sorted through what felt like mountains of clothes, we started talking about how we budget for kids clothes. Both of these friends I consider frugal people, and I discovered something very interesting. Both parents thought the number I budgeted for clothing for my kid is high. Yet when I asked how much they spent per year, neither parent could tell me how much they spent per year. Both said they purchased a mix of used and new clothes, but so do I.

According to the article The Real Cost of Raising Kids on, the average difference spent annually between couples with kids and couples without kids is $1,570. This Statistics Canada data from 2011 also noted that the majority of these couples had two children, which drops the average amount spent per child per year to $785. That data will have probably increased a little since 2011 as the cost of living goes up.

While I do not think my budget for kid’s clothes is far off the mark, I am a little too close to that average budget number. Either way, this has inspired me to tighten down my budget a little bit. Here are some techniques I am going to use to tighten down this area of my budget.

Make a List Of What You Need

closet final

Over at Frugally Sustainable, I think there is a great list of what you need for a very basic kids wardrobe. I know my daughter has many more pieces of clothing than are on this list, and this list really puts it in perspective. As I have a kid who is potty training, I might need a few more pairs of pants or shirts so I am not doing the wash every day.

I am going to use this free printable over at Making Lemonade to create an inventory of my kids clothing. I did this before my baby was born and had a lot of success at keeping her clothing down to the essentials in the first year. I have since stopped making that list, but I think I need to start this tactic again. I also think the included list of clothing for each child at this blog is a little more realistic for me since I like to try to keep the laundry to once a week for each family member.

Attack All At Once

Most of my clothes shopping, I do when I visit my mother. There are three kid’s resale shops near her that all have very nice clothes, many new with tags.  Twice a year, I do a large shopping pilgrimage and buy most of my child’s wardrobe in one swoop. While I do keep an eye out for clothes outside of these shopping trips, it is rare that I buy other items with only a few exceptions. That makes it easy to track how much I have spent on my kids clothes. If you keep your shopping trips to places you can get multiple good deals in one swoop, you will cut down your purchasing overall.

Buy Used Clothes

There are multiple ways to get used clothes if you know where to look. Ask friends and family if they might have anything they would be willing to give or sell. Search second-hand shops and use online sites like Facebook and Varagesale to find local parents online selling used clothes. If you have access to hand me downs, take everything you can get. Kids tend to outgrow clothes quickly, and hand me downs from other families can help pad your budget. Consider hosting a clothing swap with other parents and everyone can benefit. A clothing swap could also be a fun tactic to teaching older kids to be more frugal. Now I need to find a friend with girls a year older than mine!

Get The Kids Involved

teens final

Before you start shopping, discuss the game plan with your kids. Let them know the goal of the shopping trip, and if the kids are old enough, what your budget is. While my three-year-old does not need to know we are spending up to $30 on a pair of good shoes, I can talk to her about how we are looking for a pair of shoes today so she can be looking also.  A nine-year-old can surely help check those price tags and know that we are looking for a pair of shoes under $30. For teenagers, this is a great opportunity to start teaching them how to budget. Check out this post by To Love, Honor And Vacuum to get you started setting your teenager up with a clothing budget that will take some of the pressure off clothing shopping.

Shop Out Of Season

Bargainmoose is perfect for helping you to find the best deals on kid’s clothes. Take advantage of the end of season sales, free shipping and all sorts of great prices. Keep in mind items that you could perhaps buy a size up and would still fit. Coats are a bigger purchase that can be bought a size up and worn for multiple seasons. Shop out of season in a few big swoops, and your kids wardrobe will be stocked quickly and painlessly.

Bargainmoosers, how do you keep your spending on kids clothing in line with your budget?

(Image Credit: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez,  Ali Edwards, Austin Anomic)

TOPICS:   Toys

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