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8 Ways to Save Money on Children’s Clothing

Guest post from Brandi of Uncommon Commonness

1. Accept Freebies

Always say yes when someone offers you free clothes, even if you aren’t sure you can use them. If a friend or family member with a slightly older child wants to pass down clothes, you should take advantage of the offer.

You may think you’re all set for a certain size next season but you never know what they may have in their bag. The last time I said “yes”, I got a lovely Easter dress for my daughter!

2. Shop at Consignment Stores

Once Upon a Child features children’s clothing and may have a branch near you. They’re very selective with what they buy back and they run seasonal clearance sales where you can fill an entire bag full of clothing (bag provided by them) for only $10. Best of all, you can often sell your clothes back at the end of the season and recoup some of your money.

3. Frequent Yard Sales

Yard sales can be great places to find children’s clothing. I have better success finding baby and toddler clothes than bigger boy and girl sizes, but I always check just in case!

4. Shop Department Store Clearance Racks

Departments stores often have excellent prices on their clearance racks. Just this weekend, I picked up two pairs of $26 fleece pajamas for next year at the rock bottom price of $1 each. By matching coupons with clearance items, you can actually get things for free!

5. Ask for Clothes for Birthdays and Christmas

Ask family for gifts of clothing instead of toys. I put new tennis shoes on the grandparents’ list each Christmas and occasionally coats, too, if I haven’t found good deals on used ones. My kids enjoy clothing with popular characters on them, and they’re always excited to receive them as gifts.

6. Swap with other moms

A children’s clothing swap can make for a fun mom’s night out even with a homeschool co-op or church group. Moms can bring bags of clothing they don’t need and leave with sizes they do need.

7. Make your own

Sew clothing instead of purchasing it. Something like a little girl’s pillowcase dress is simple enough for a beginner, and there are countless sewing projects to found be online for novices and veterans alike. To save on fabric, look for great deals on tablecloths, shower curtains, or bed sheets to use as fabric.

8. Save clothing and pass it down 

Even if you think seasons won’t match up, you can always layer a hand-me-down short-sleeve top over a long-sleeve one you purchased. You especially may want to save “classic” items that aren’t prone to fashion trends… pajamas, blue jeans, cardigans to wear over dresses, and simple church dresses don’t change much from one year to the next.

Clothing doesn’t have to be expensive. Many options for children’s clothing are free, and others that aren’t free can be very frugal. My children have lots of clothing from Gymboree, Baby Gap, Old Navy, and the Children’s Place, almost none of which came directly from the store.

How do you save money on children’s clothing?

Brandi is a stay-at-home mom of three children blogging at Uncommon Commonness about homeschooling, whole foods, crafts, frugality, family, and faith.

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  • Jessica says:

    You can also upcycle old clothes and make tees, leggings, dresses, skirts and pajamas. My favorite is to make skirts for my daughter out of the old jeans my son has worn the knees (and the patches!) out of.

    • This is an excellent idea I never thought of!!! One problem I might have, though is sewing since I’m still kinda new at it and don’t enjoy it much. Do you spend very much time sewing old clothes you’re trying to modify?

      As for the article, I do most of these but I haven’t really thought of putting together a swap clothes type of party with other moms. What a great idea!!

      • Jessica says:

        That’s the beauty of upcycled stuff…you have more wiggleroom to mess up. There are tons of tutorials out there and lots of ideas. The very first thing I sewed last year when I started was a skirt out of a pair of jeans that had worn in some not-so-desirable places! For myself, too! The easiest thing (and my favorite) is old, garage sale or consignment overalls. Cut off the legs and add a skirt. Voila! Easy jumper!

  • Kathleen says:

    I also check out eBay!!

  • The majority of my clothes are Target clearance freebies (after coupons), hand-me-downs, or were gifts!
    I’m not picky! It’s much easier to dress when you have a simple style and wardrobe 🙂
    And then I don’t feel guilty spending my extra $80 on a pair of jeans like many people do!

    • jessica says:

      🙂 OOH yeah! that is what i was gonna write! Target and their coupons for clothes.. i always use it and either buy something we need (always clearance or something for next season!!)

  • Emily says:

    Once Upon a Child actually tends to be pretty expensive for used clothing. I can find some decent deals on things like shoes and special-occasion dresses for my daughter, but their regular clothing is more expensive used than I can get new on clearance racks. They ARE very picky about what they buy back, but I can usually get a decent amount of money if I have a name-brand item that is in good shape. A tip for OUAC – if you live in an urban area like I do, there may be several stores within driving distance. If one store doesn’t accept an item, another store might. It all depends on who is working and what they need in stock. Or save any rejected items for the next time you go with a new stash. It may be accepted the second time around!

    • anon says:

      I agree. They are expensive. I buy clearance from Target or Macy’s.

    • Yes they are too expensive when just doing some leisure shopping, but when I can get them while they’re having their Fill a Bag for $10 sale then that’s when i go crazy there! It’s pretty much the ONLY time I buy anything from them. Everything else comes from the grandparents or we buy it at goodwill or the clearance racks at Target.

    • Jessica says:

      The Once Upon a Child in our area reeks of smoke. I realize that it comes out when you wash stuff, but I can’t stand to even be in the store. And their prices aren’t that great compared to new, clearanced items from Target or WalMart.

  • Jessica says:

    I’ve had zero luck selling back to OUAC in Columbus Ohio. I’ve taken 2 totes full of new or nearly new items and they rejected nearly all of it. They were free of stains or tears, in current style and season. I find the mom to mom sales and thrift stores to be much better.

  • Ashlee says:

    We have consignment sales here, way cheaper than consignment stores since its two weekends a year and Moms price their own stuff. I get great deals on craigslist and buy at the end of seasons online. $6 for toddler pants new is a better deal than $3 used for us since my boys are hard on elastic and are exactly two years apart. I’d rather spend a little more for better stuff that lasts through at least two kids than buy for each kid.

  • Sarah says:

    So true about the passed down clothes-we have done really well from some kind friends and relatives. I know that I have occasionally offered clothes to people who have either said no or been so specific about what they want that I haven’t bothered to ask again but pass clothes onto those who will use them. Say yes-the clothes are likely to be useful and if not pass them onto someone else.

  • Stefanie says:

    I’ve personally found Once Upon a Child to very inexpensive. I love their stores! Often, they’ll have BOGO on their clearance, and I’ll get cute, stain-free items for as low as $1.25 each that way. If you subscribe to their email newsletter, every month they send a coupon for a free item. Often it’s a free book or toy (up to a certain dollar amount), no purchase required. Regardless, everything I buy there is at a fraction of the cost of buying new (and some of their items ARE new, with tags).

    • Jessica says:

      the Ohio OUAC don’t do that in their emails. I get them but all they ever offer is like a 15% off on one day and not very often.

  • Jen says:

    This has pretty much been what I’ve done for my 3 children now ages 21, 13 and 5, for their entire lives. It has worked out very well. They ALL have many more clothes than they need, to the point that I have given away some clothes that do fit because they have so many. Back when I used to resell their clothes, I probably came out more than even, but now I have relatives and friends’ kids that I pass things down to. I even buy clothes at yard sales for my daughter’s friend who is bigger, which her mom then passes back to me as hand-me-downs. I currently have 3 large bins full of clothes in bigger sizes for my 5 year old. The only resistance I ever got was from my oldest, when she hit the teen years and didn’t want used clothing all the time. But guess what her favorite store is now that she’s buying her own clothes? Yep, Goodwill (thrift store).

  • Lauren says:

    Craigslist in the baby/kids section is great for finding a bundle of clothes in the size/season you need for a decent price.

    Same goes for selling, if you have a bag full or more, you can sell it. I have often bundled stuff that a consignment store rejects and sell them as “play clothes” for 5-10 dollars a bag.

    • Andrea says:

      If the clothes are good quality, not stained or ripped, I try it at least twice at the consignment store before sending it to charity. One week, they might have too many of a specific items, but a few weeks later, they might need it. Or, different employees have different tastes!

      • Belinda says:

        My biggest complaint about the consignment stores is just that. One week someone may reject the item or offer a totally different amount than someone else. I brought 8 items in and got the same amount as the 18 items I brought in the next week!

        • Andrea says:

          When you consign something, the shop gets a percentage and you get a percentage of their selling price. If the items don’t sell after a certain period of time, you can either pick them up or let the store donate them to charity.

          It sounds like your shop does re-sale…they buy things at a set price from you the day you take them in.

    • Stephanie says:

      I have had good luck selling clothes for $5-10 as well. I just usually take a pictures, list what I have and do it by size. Works great!

  • Jill says:

    Craigslist is a great place to find TONS of clothes too!

  • Amy says:

    Church consignment sales are very popular in our area. They usually have a half off sale at the end, so I can usually get clothes for my boys for $1-2 a piece!

  • Andrea says:

    I agree with #1, to a point. If you’re busy and already have a comfortable amount of clothing, taking in clutter that you have to deal with might not be a good use of time. If it is several sizes too big, storage might become an issue.

    • Jennifer says:

      I agree Andrea. This also applies to saving the clothing to pass on to the next child.

      I tried to save all of the re-usable clothes/toys/books etc. we had to pass on to the next child. I found out very quickly that even with just a few years between children you will be storing several totes full of things you “might” use. I have had much better luck selling the items we are done with at consignment sales. At the same sales I can buy just the things I need for the upcoming season. I usually buy less than I am selling and I can always sell the things that I buy later, when we are done with them.

      This allows me to avoid clutter and the need for extra storage space in out small home.

  • Lauren says:

    I use children’s consignment sales to dress my 2 children. I buy the clothes cheap, and as long as take care of them, I can resell them. I can buy a pair of name brand jeans for $2.00 and sell them for the same price the next year. A local charity gets a portion of the sale price.

  • Belinda says:

    We have several consignment sales that are twice a year. They are fabulous to sell and buy at! Moms price their own stuff(clothes, shoes, toys, baby accessories, etc) and drop off to sell. Most of them have 1/2 price day the last day too. I have gotten some great deals on nice clothes at these sales.

  • aww, my article is linked here! Thank you for that! I saw some traffic on my site and came to investigate. I agree with all of the above!

    I love to make clothes and I love consignment shops as well.

    I also look through the clearance racks. If you learn how to sew, you don’t even have to pay a ton of attention to sizing. You can buy complete outfits that are 2-3 sizes bigger for less than a yard of fabric and turn it into several well fit outfits.

    • Andrea says:

      I bought leggings on clearance at Target for $2/pair and hemmed them into capris for my daughter. So easy!

  • Lisa says:

    I live near an area with a lot of private schools and families who have plenty of money-I seem to do really well at the new Goodwill that just opened-but I am sure some areas would not have as nice of donations. Also one of the schools has a PTA sale where items are all 0.50-1.00 and VERY gently used and in great shape and all brand name it seems. I have done really well just going to one or 2 good sales and then hitting the clearance the season/year before. It can waste a lot of time and gas to go to a lot of rummage sales that might be ho-hum.

  • Lisa Marie says:

    Look for consignment sales, some company names are Here We Grow Again, Just Between Friends, Rhea Lana, Kids Closet Connection, and just google the company and see if there’s sales in the area. I only shop the 50% off days and get really cheap deals, you can sell items and make as much as 70% of the selling price, you’ll get to shop a pre-sale day earlier and get 50% off earlier than the public.

  • Twinmamateb says:

    Our city has a giant consignment sale twice a year. Bigger payout than Once Upon b/c you do the tagging, etc. I not only sell all of my stuff but buy my kids entire wardrobe (and toys) for that season. After 2 yrs I have always sold more than I bought…essentially they only “borrowed” their clothes all year.

    Anything that was not of good enough quality I take to a clothing swap at a local nonprofit, where I swap all the play clothes for new ones that fit.

  • Amber says:

    There’s a kids’ consignment sale in my area that always has tons of well-organized clothes; sellers price their own stuff so I have to bypass some overpriced items and keep digging. I always come with a list of needs to speed things up.

    I’ve also done very well on Craigslist. It helps that I’m within driving distance of some very affluent parts of Chicago. I once got a massive garbage bag full of toddler boys’ clothes for $20. A deal in its own right, and on closer inspection I discovered designer labels, tags still on…score!! I even was able to re-sell some items I didn’t like, because there was so much in there.

  • Cassi says:

    I took my son school shopping at my friend’s house 🙂 she gets hand me downs from her sister for her youngest son and then usually bundles it all up and takes it to good will-when I mentioned I was headed to Goodwill she asked what size Cohan was in and it turned out to be the sizes she was going to be hauling off to goodwill! I was able to get several pairs of shorts and pants as well as shirts and old Halloween costumes for $0! My youngest son even scored a Clifford backpack out of the deal. Her son is 3 years older but not much bigger so this is something we may be able to keep up for a while! I shop consignment to a point-we only have one store in our town and it can get expensive but I can sometimes get good deals. I only buy new off the clearance racks if I can help it-grandma and grandpa like to buy the boys new clothes so I let them spend the $!

  • Laura says:

    I found that I can get good clothes for reasonable prices at Once Upon a Child but if you want to sell clothes, you can make much more money at a consigment sale yourself.

    And shop Gymboree sales often. I get so many clothes for my girls on the clearance racks there and with coupons, often get shirts and tops for $2-3. That’s usually cheaper than Target and Walmart and better quality.

  • Sarah says:

    Clearance at Target, kohls , gap and macys or even Nordstrom rack suprisingly. I got My daughter a 40+ sweater for 8 bucks there.

    • flutemom says:

      so it’s late at night, and i should have already gone to bed. but i was behind on reading through crystal’s site here, so i’m reading through all these comments and i breeze through the last line of yours, totally missing the little word ‘a’ in the sentence, and i’m thinking to myself, why in the world does her daughter need 40 sweaters, even if it only cost $8 for them??!! ha ha; now i get it!

  • Amber says:

    I recently found out that I LOVE the Goodwill!!! I don’t like other thrift stores too much because their prices tend to run more like consignment stores (more $ for less quality clothing)- but I went into a Goodwill a few months ago and was shocked to find a LOT of good brand names (Gymboree, GAP, Children’s Place, etc.) for only $1.99 up to 6x & when it is the color of the week it is half off- so only $1. I have been buying just about everything I see for my daughter (2 1/2) and my son (due in May) up through 6x when it is the color of the week. Last week I even found a handful of beautiful spring dresses (Amy Coe, Land’s End, Copper Key, Sophia Rose & Rare Editions) for $1 each!! I also have been buying some plus size clothes for myself for summer and having my mom alter them a little for me & it is WAY cheaper than buying maternity clothes – plus she can just keep taking them in until I can fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes!

  • Andrea says:

    Okay so I am super organized when it comes to garage sales. I go 3 weekends in a row when spring hits to all the city-wides. I go through my kids tots a few weeks before and mark down everything by size and category. Be specific and chart it in Excel going up a few sizes. Then print and keep in your purse. If you stop at a garage sale you know exactly what you need and don’t end up buying 3 pairs of khaki’s and jeans. I have tons of basic stuff for my son stocked up. I only buy stuff cheap, with tags, and if I love it. That way you have nice clothes for next to nothing.

    • Genie says:

      I do the same exact thing! My husband laughs at me for being so organized on what we have for our children. I’m glad there is another mom out there that does the same thing! 🙂

      • Becky says:

        I do the same thing!!!! Make sure that you put down how many your kid needs because when you are at the sale and see the cheap prices you may still buy too much – last week I “forgot” to update the sheet- I now have 3 pairs of boots for my daughter in one size… she will enjoy it, but it really wasn’t needed. I love excel sheets!

  • Alyssa says:

    I have always bought at the end of a season for the next year. Just yesterday, I went to the childrens place and picked up $5 pants for my 7 year old for next year. I got 2 pairs of pants, and about 8 assorted shirts from the TCP (for three kiddos), all for no more than $40. I do that pretty much all the way through the year. Pick up clearance items (normally look for $4 or less) in the kids next sizes and put them away for the coming year. Normally I have almost an entire wardrobe for the kids ready for them when the season hits 🙂 I often find that finding good deals is cheaper than the consignment places we have around here 🙂

  • Heather says:

    And don’t forgot that if your children’s clothing that they have outgrown is in nice shape – you can resell it and use the money from that to help purchase clothing in the next size. Of course this works best for younger kids. But for many years I never had to pay from year to year or season to season for my boy’s clothing. I would shop the department store clearance racks out-of-season – pick up the best deals and save them. My boys would wear them. I would sell their gently used clothing on ebay – the money I made would buy the clearance items again for the next season – and so forth.

  • Jennifer says:

    I own a seasonal consignment sale and obviously I think it’s an awesome way to shop. I shopped them for years before deciding to operate my own sale. I usually made enough money selling the outgrown clothes to purchase a new wardrobe for the next season. It’s addicting!!

  • Tiffany says:

    Our daughter is 11 months old and we have bought her NOTHING – yes NOTHING for clothing. We have 2 friends that are so amazing – they just let us borrow their outgrown clothes. Once we are done with a size – 1 friend passes them on to someone else in need and the other friend is having another girl – so she is storing them again for her next child. It’s been amazing. All I did was open my mouth and ask.

    And…UOAC is really excellent for toys and books. Almost every single toy/book she has is from there. I sanitize everything (since she puts it all in her mouth- even the books!) and we are good to go!!

  • christine says:

    my mom always had us change into play (worn, faded, stained, patched) clothes/shoes so school /sunday best clothes&shoes last longer.

    • Andrea says:

      We always had “school” clothes and shoes. We homeschool, so my kids spend a lot of time in loungewear. We don’t actually need that many nice clothes.

  • Sarah says:

    I love Thrift Stores for the boys’ clothes. They tend to be almost new and dirt cheap.

  • Maria says:

    I’ve found great deals on children’s clothing at Burlington Coat Factory. They have great labels for really low prices. For example, Ralph Lauren jeans for boys for $9.99 or a down coat for my son reduced from $50 to $15. Sometimes I can find a two or three piece outfit for $10. Also, my kids are not wearing the same clothes that the other kids purchased from Target and Old Navy. I do shop for gently used clothing and hand-me-downs to save more money.

  • As the father of a 4 month old boy, I know the value of saving money on clothes. We tend to rely on garage sales and clearance racks for most of his clothes because there’s little I despise more than paying $30 for an outfit that he’ll only be able to wear for a month or two. And, of course, thank you Lord for relatives and friends! Our church has been fantastic. It seems like there’s a new outfit waiting for us every Sunday.
    Thanks for the article!

  • Cat says:

    I buy mixed lots on eBay. I just purchased 27 items for $1.55 each incl. shipping, all like new. It not only saves money but I feel better about that than buying clearance in a store for several reasons: Used clothing means extra pesticides were not used to produce the cotton clothing I bought. It also means I did not directly contribute to any poor labor conditions, or put profits back in big corps money but did give another mama extra money in her pocket to buy the next size up for her kiddos.

  • Bernadette says:

    I love consignment sales! We have a ton in our area, Just Between Friends is my favorite. You have to go through the racks though, some people price things to sell while others price them to make money. Have an idea what you want to spend beforehand but be prepared to walk out with at least one outfit that you couldn’t resist! I also have sold a lot of my kid’s outgrown clothes and made quite a bit of money last year. I have bins in the basement of clothes for my kids to grow into and by buying a few years ahead for my oldest, I can afford to be picky and wait for good deals. I also love Target clearance, though I shop different Targets depending on what I’m looking for. I’m blessed to be near a few of them and know which ones are the best for which kind of clothes – one is better for girls while another is better for boys. I never pay retail for anything, it will go on clearance if you wait long enough! And always take clothes from people who offer them, you can always pass them along if you can’t use them!

  • Denise says:

    I have always bought clothes (especially pants and shorts) for my oldest on ebay. If you start well before the season, you can get lots (as in groups) of clothes for very reasonable prices. Only this year when she moved into Juniors have the opportunities decreased, but I have still found some good deals. I strongly suggest you look for them in lots instead of individually, as well as buying several from the same seller, to also help keep the prices down. Certainly only one strategy, but one that has worked well for me.

  • Maegen says:

    I’ve gotten most of my boys’ clothes for just a few bucks a piece (or less) using all of those techniques.

    I have to mention one you missed, though: Do the laundry and put it away!

    Every once in a while, I tell my husband that our kids need clothes. Then when I actually tackle Mt.Laundry I can’t fit it all in the drawers! Of course, they do grow and need new things, but I always find they need Much less than I think they do!

  • janine daly says:

    I am lucky enough to have a very good friend with 4 girls who are all older than my 4 youngest girls, she had huge clean out last year and i got 6 massive boxes of clothes for every season new with tags too! it was like christmas time the kids got to help sort them and they have enough for this year without me buying a thing! i love sales racks too i never pay full price except for birthdays and christmas they the kids all get 4 outfits new which they love, plus our oldest (20) passes on her clothes that she outgrows and usually they get put aside til they fit (shes not big) so the younger ones love that. i find in australia kmart is the cheapest place, new jeans $9 new shirts from $2-$7 and whole outfits from about $8 so i plan 2 big trips a year at the start of the warm and cold seasons and whatever they need i get then. I love reading your posts to give me more good ideas too so thank you very much 🙂

  • Shelly says:

    Since I am not lucky as some who get hand me downs from friends or relatives I shop yard sales, sales at jcpenneys or sears (I just got a coat for dd for $15 and it was a two in one coat), and pass down all older dd’s clothes to the younger one (saves me a ton of money doing that). Also, when I go yard/garage saleing I am very organized and I go to big subdivision sales. I hit a lot of sales in the summer not just one or two here or there. That’s how I big almost all my kids clothes.

  • We’ve been fortunate to receive almost all of our three boys’ clothes through either hand-me-downs or gifts. I actually don’t like the idea of having to hunt down clothes at a consignment or garage sale, but I’m sure I will have to get used to it eventually.

    Keeping their outfits down to a few simple ones, having play clothes for outside play and art, and not washing them unless they really need it has extended what we have. I think washing clothes more than they need it puts unnecessary wear and tear on them.

  • Valarie Weinhaus says:

    I am VERY blessed to have 5 fantastic thrift stores in my small town of 17,000. Last week, I completely clothed TWO girls in size 14-16’s for less than $70 for the entire summer… including four pairs of shoes EACH… one pair even being Birkenstocks for $3!

  • Michele says:

    A lady in our community started a virtual yard sale page on Facebook. It’s just for people who live in our county, but I have gotten my daughter’s entire summer wardrobe from the comfort of my house. You browse albums on fb & then make arrangements to meet & pick the items up. You can sell anything you sell at a typical yard sale.

  • natalie says:

    I try to buy anything I can in the season beforehand sales!

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