Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

How to Stockpile Clothes By Shopping at Yard Sales

Guest post by MaryEllen at The Deal Scoop

The reader tip last week on stockpiling clothes is something our family has already been using to save an incredible amount of money each year. As I read through the comments on the post, I noticed some readers’ concerns.

There were some readers who don’t think they could find good enough deals at yard sales to make stockpiling clothing worth their while. Some felt that all they can find at yard sales is junk and that they would rather buy clearance items at the stores. Then there were those who admitted that they aren’t organized enough to know what they need and don’t need.

Here are a few tips on how to get the best prices at yard sales and how our family has been able to make stockpiling clothing work for us:

On Friday night, check your local paper or ads for Saturday’s yard sales.

(Or if you live an area with a lot of Friday sales, check on Thursday night. Go whenever is best for the area in which you live.) Most people will list some specific items that they will be selling. Mark the ones that specifically have kids’ clothing listing and skip the rest. In my family’s experience, you will barely have time to make it to just those yard sales, and there is no sense wasting time and gas going to yard sales that don’t have what you’re looking for.

Plan your route ahead of time.

If you need directions to certain places, be sure you have them all printed out the night before so you can go from place to place quickly and use gas efficiently. The more gas you use, the more those yard sale clothes will cost you!

Go as early as possible in the morning.

Many people think there is only junk to be found at yard sales, but a lot of times that’s because there are high-quality items to be had for nearly pennies. The first ones at the yard sales find all the best stuff before it’s gone!

Set a target price and don’t be afraid to make deals in order to hit it.

This is probably the most crucial part to the whole game of stockpiling clothing, and I’ll be the first to admit that my husband is more skilled at it than I am. Our family’s personal target is $0.25 per clothing item, $1 for a pair of shoes and up to $1 for nice dresses for our daughter. That may seem like quite an ambitious goal, but my husband has proven to me that it is quite doable. Here’s what I’ve learned by watching him:

::If a seller has high quality items and is asking 50 cents each, pick out three things and ask if they will take $1 for all three. Nine times out of ten, they will. Although that is $0.33 per item and not the target $0.25, you can average it out later.

::Ask the seller if they will consider a bag special. If there are a good number of items in which you are interested, ask the seller if they will allow you to fill a shopping bag for a certain price. If they will sell you a bag of clothing for $3 to $5, you should be able to hit your target price. (This is especially true when you’re buying smaller sizes because you can fit more pieces into the bag.)

If they charge $5, you’ll need to fit at least 20 pieces into the bag in order to hit $0.25 an item. (It’s amazing how many pieces will go in when they’re folded neatly!) If they charge $3, you need to fit at least 12 pieces in the bag in order to hit your target.

Then, there are always the sellers who surprise you by saying, “Sure, fill a bag for $1!” It happens, and those are the times that help you bring your average back down to the target price when you’ve paid a little more for something you really like.

::If a seller is asking $1 for a pair of shoes, ask if they’ll take $0.50. The worst they can say is “no”, and if they say “yes”, you’ve just brought your average price per item down. If they’re asking $2, ask if they’ll take $1. Then you can get the shoes at your target price.

Skip the junk.

Don’t buy something just because it happens to be your target price. If you don’t like it or it’s worn out, skip it. You’ll find something else later.

Buy only classic styles and colors.

Remember, by the time your children wear the clothes you find, it may be a couple years down the road. Trendy things go out of style very quickly and you’ll end up not using them and wasting your money.

Keep a detailed list of what you have and what you need.

I don’t think it makes sense to buy another pair of pants, even if they are only $0.25, if our son already has enough pairs in that size. On the other hand, if the end of yard sale season is approaching and we see that he still needs pants for the upcoming winter, we can up our target price for that item. I’d rather pay $0.50 or $0.75 for the pants instead of waiting until we get out the winter clothes only to find out we have to run to Walmart and buy a couple pairs at full price.

Spreadsheet Tip:

Our family uses two spreadsheets, one for boy clothes and one for girl clothes. Each spreadsheet includes every size from birth through several sizes beyond what our children currently wear.

There are categories for every different item, such as play shirts, shorts, dress pants, dress shirts, etc. We also include every size of shoes.

Every time we come home from yard sales we immediately wash everything and add it to the spreadsheet. The next time we find something at our target price we can check to see if we already have enough of that item in that particular size. We keep a copy of our spreadsheets on the computer, and carry a printed copy with us to the yard sales.

Properly organize all the clothes you have stockpiled.

It’s no fun to know you have clothes available when your child has a growth spurt, but you can’t find them anywhere! I like to keep everything in airtight tubs that are labeled by size and gender. I haven’t figured out a better way to do shoes, so everything just gets thrown into either a “boy’s shoes bin” or a “girl’s shoes bin”.

When one of our kids outgrows their shoes, I just look on the spreadsheet to make sure we have the next size for them. Then I can rummage through the bin to get their next size shoe. I love being able to make a trip to the attic when our kids have a growth spurt instead of making an emergency trip to the store!

We Save Over $140 Per Year By Stockpiling Clothing and Shopping at Yard Sales

If you’re still not convinced that stockpiling clothing from yard sales would be worth it to you, here are a couple rough figures of how much money we save this way. Let’s say my little girl needs a minimum of five tops, five bottoms, three Sunday dresses and three pairs of shoes for each season. If we buy the five tops and five bottoms at $0.25, the three Sunday dresses for $1 each, and the three pairs of shoes for $1 each, we end up spending $8.50 for an entire season’s worth of clothing.

If we found some really great sales at Target or Walmart and bought the same amount of clothing for $5 a piece, we would spend $80. So we save at very minimum $71.50 per season, or $143 a year per child.

The more children you have, the more your savings will multiply. Plus, though I have nothing against clothes from Target or Walmart, our children are wearing Children’s Place, OshKosh, Gymboree, and Carter’s clothing instead. Many times the clothes and shoes we find are brand-new with the tags still on.

I do understand that this method of saving on children’s clothing is not going to work for 100% of you due to lack of storage space or because you may live in a rural area with very few yard sales. However, I do hope that those of you who have the means to do so will give some of these tips a try. You may be surprised at how well you can do!

MaryEllen Bream is a stay-at-home mom who is always looking for more ways to stretch her family’s budget. When she’s not playing with her kids or shopping yard sales for their clothes, she can be found sharing deals and money-saving tips on her blog.

photo credit

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Sheryl says:

    Our family stockpiles clothes as well but I only do it one size ahead, unless it’s a really good deal on something that won’t go out of style (I don’t have alot of storage room). Just last weekend we got 2 bags of baby gap clothes for $6, for my daughter who is in 4t! There are some weekends we don’t get to yardsale or we don’t find anything but every now and again we find a good deal like $6 for probably $100 bucks worth of Gap!

    • Shannon says:

      I’ve been doing the same thing since before my son was born. I dont have the room to stockpile a ton of things but I have an under-the-bed storage bin under my sons bed where I store the next size up in clothing & shoes. I get a lot of clothes from a friend who has a boy a little older (but a whole lot bigger) then my son, plus the clothes that grandparents buy, so I rarely have to buy clothes. When I do buy I only get enough to last a week, plus 1 or 2 extras in case of accidents. I do splurge a little on my son when its time for the next size with a shirt or pajamas in a character he loves like Thomas or Buzz. I can generally find something at Target or Kohls for $5-$10. I know its a lot more than the 25/50 cents at a yard sale but its 1 or 2 items (a year since he’s 3 and not going through clothes as quickly) and they get him excited about his new clothes. Since I get most of his clothes for free anyway I dont go out of my budget.

    • Jamie says:

      We also stockpile some clothes, but I’m definitely not as organized as you Crystal – the spreadsheet is a great idea. We like to shop at a local children’s consignment shop that has really nice clothes at great prices (not as low as your targets, but it works for us). The thing I do draw a line at is used shoes. I’ve had at least one physical therapist tell me it is a bad idea to have children wear used shoes. It would be better to buy only one pair of shoes and wear them out completely than to use someone else’s shoes that have their “imprint” in it. It can cause problems with walking and such. I don’t know all the details since I am not a PT myself – does anyone else know these details?

  • Lynda says:

    Excellent advice. I would also add, if you are going to make an offer on something i.e. “Would you take .50 cents for this?” and the person says no, be prepared to walk away – don’t get so tied to one item that you have to have it no matter what the price. Also, if you walk into a sale and find all the shirts marked, for instance, $5, just walk away – there is almost no way you will be able to negotiate a reasonable enough price to make it worth your time.

    We have three girls and a granddaughter. Our girls only got “new” clothing when grandparents bought it for them and after a few washings I would challenge anyone to point out which clothing items were “new” and which ones came from garage sales – you can’t tell! Now they are excellent bargain shoppers themselves.

    Like your family, our girls have always worn nice quality, name brand stuff for pennies on the dollar of the original price.

    • Naomi says:

      Yes on the walking away. Many, many times I have done this and the seller calls me back and says they’ll take my offer.

  • Jessica says:

    Just a tip for yard salers with a smart phone you can get apps on, there is an app called “garage sale rover” and it has a map of all the sales listed on craigslist. You can view the ad posted, and highlight the sales you want to hit for a personalized map. Makes it a breeze to hit exactly what you want!

  • Great tips! I’ve found great deals on clothing for my children at yard sales. A local church held seasonal yard sales and I always found name brand clothing (GAP, Gymboree, Land’s End, Old Navy, Polo) in great condition for .50 to $1 a piece.

    I also absolutely agree with the advice to stick with classic styles. I rarely buy character based clothing for my children. I stick with solids, simple patterns, polo shirts, khakis.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • Kym says:

    Thanks for the tips! We are fortunate to get hand me downs from a generous friend that has daughters a few year older than mine. I do get overwhelmed by my “store” of clothes in my basement and think ur spread sheet idea may really help me! One question I have is how many outfits, pajamas, and shoes, per size, season do they really need? They have more than the 5 of each that you used in the example but I don’t want to hang on to too many. What is ur top amount that you’ll hang on to? my daughter has 15 dress for summer…. I’m thinking that’s too many 🙂 Thank you!

    • Carrie says:

      I’m wondering the same thing Kim. I know my son has way too many clothes (he has at least 20 tees and pairs of shorts, and we too are blessed with hand-me-downs). Our house is a cottage and with five people in it, it’s overrun by the boys clothing and sporting equipment. What do you think a base amount of pieces should be for an almost three-year-old boy? I won’t even begin to ask about my teenage boys…

      • Carrie says:

        ^Kym (sorry!)

      • DonnaJ says:

        I’ll jump in on this and say, I think twice as many play shirts as short/pants. Many times if you need to run an errand or go to grandma’s house ~ a shirt change is necessary. And I’ve got 5 sons, I would apply the same advice to them. 1 of my sons has 3 pairs of slacks for church ~ navy, black, khaki ~ lots of shirts to mix and match. We buy shirts on deeply discounted racks, yard sales, etc. My kids don’t care about tags cause my husband and I don’t. I know when grandkids come, I will be scouring the sales for osh kosh, cause thats what I like!

        • Sara says:

          I’m the opposite of you, Donna. I have more pants than shirts for my daughter. The reason? Potty training! She’s a fairly good eater and doesn’t tend to spill. But until recently she had a potty accident about every other day. She would quickly run out of pants between wash days.

          To answer the original question by Kym…how many days between washes? How many times a day do you need to change your little one? I would base the amount of play clothes and pajamas on those two things. Shoes: dressy shoes and tennis shoes and sandals or boots (depending on the season). Get rid of the clothes that are more “worn” first (unless you want clothes for messy projects or something).

      • Caitlin says:

        I agree with the washing statement. I have tons of clothes for my son for that very reason. I think it saves money, in the long run, to have more cheap clothes, so I only have to do one load of colors and one load of whites per week. That way, I’m not spending money on water, detergent, and electricity for the upkeep of a 50 cent shirt. I also don’t usually shop at yard sales, mostly because I don’t have time to do it, so I hit the thrift stores and end of season clearance racks, when I can. I think the less you have to wash, the more you get out of your clothes, though.

        • Amy says:

          I don’t have kids, but with just my husband and myself, three loads of laundry per week isn’t enough. When it was just me, I could do two loads every other week, but my husband seems to create dirty laundry out of thin air. How do you run just two loads per week!?

      • BethB says:

        I’ve noticed my boys need more bottoms in the summer than the winter not only because of weather but because of how dirty they get! Right now my 2 y/o has 6 shorts, 10 shirts, and 2 pairs of those pants that roll up. My almost 5 y/o has 9 pairs of shorts (in 2 sizes, he’s in between at the moment), 2 pairs of the roll-up pants and 11 shirts. Most of the time I wash colors several times a week but I like to have enough to make it 7 days without *needing* to do laundry and allowing for a few extra outfits.

        Another thing I’ve noticed is how few shorts we’re able to pass down. The butts get permanently stained from sitting in the sandbox and my older son often wears shorts two years in a row (unlike pants!) so they really get trashed.

        In the winter each boy has around 7 long sleeve shirts and 3-5 heavier thermal or sweatshirt tops. The younger one only had 6 pairs of pants this year including sweatpants. The older one had around 10 pairs of pants but mostly that was because he started refusing to wear anything but sweats, or Cozy Pants, as he calls it, and I ended up buying more as the winter wore on.

        I try to keep three pairs PJs for each child for each season but we are still having pee accidents and diapers leaks.

        • B Rei says:

          Re stain removal — I soak in Oxyclean – hot water and powder dissolved by stirring a bit, add clothes (of any color,) let sit for an hour – wash. Bye, stains 🙂

    • peever says:

      I usually like to have at least 14 shirts and 7-10 pairs of pants per child. I do laundry daily and my kids aren’t all that messy, but it seems like they manage to permanently stain things fairly regularly and my 3 yr old often goes through 3 outfits in a day.

    • If you get stuff for free, I would hang onto all of it, unless you just don’t have room to put it. A lot of times things that are the same size will run smaller or larger. You can put the smaller things on at the beginning of the season, and as they grow you can start using the bigger items in that size. Wait until they’ve totally outgrown a size before you decide what to get rid of. That way you’ll know for sure which items you truly won’t use. That’s what we do, and it works well for us.

    • Amanda says:

      To figure out how much I need for my kids, I look at how often I want to wash, and see what I’ll need for that time. I like to wash once weekly, so I make sure enough for the week. I usually end up with about 10 outfits per kid. This allows for a few messy days. 🙂 I also buy a lot of sweatpants and other comfy clothes-things that they can wear around the house, or even out to the store, but that can also double as pjs.

    • Victoria says:

      I do seven pants and seven shirts per kid and I hang them as outfits in the closet. We have two pairs of shoes per kid, a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of keens. We get a lot of hand me downs and great deals at garage sales so I do keep a few extras in each size the storage boxes as something always gets stained or ripped before it is worn by the next child. Obviously, each family will find what works for them but this is what has helped me maintain some order.

    • Kym says:

      Thanks for the advice. I think i’ll keep about 10-15 outfits up in their room and if there is extra clothes for that season I’ll keep a few extra outfits in bins but then sell the rest. I think it will bring more order to their rooms and our lives! The girls are 2 and 5 and many times pick fav outfits and want to wear them over and over anyways 🙂 thanks for taking time to post everyone.

    • Danielle says:

      I think it all depends on your philosophy and personal preferences. I personally am going through a transition from having way too much of everything to getting by with as little as possible of everything!

      Each of my children have only 4 outfits right now with 2-3 extra shirts just in case of accidents. I have a washer and dryer in our home, so there’s no reason I can’t do one load every three days.

      A great way to find out what you REALLY need for your child is this:

      1.) Set a goal for what your best estimate of their clothing needs may be. This isn’t necessarily the number you’ll stick with in the end, it’s just a starting place!

      2.) Wash & dry every piece of their clothing. Lay it all out across your bed where you can really see what they have. Match outfits together as well as anything that can mix and match.

      3.) Pick out your/their favorite outfits first. Depending on how many outfits that is and what your personal goal is, you may be able to put everything else into a laundry basket. If they need more outfits pick those out in descending order of favorites. If you/they don’t like the clothing, why keep it? It will just be taking up extra space!

      4.) Once you’ve reached your set goal put the rest in a laundry basket/tote and temporarily store it in an out-of-the-way place.

      5.) Go for one week using only the outfits you’ve put back in their drawers. If you find yourself needing to grab extra outfits from the temporarily stored clothing, perhaps you need to readjust your original goal number or laundry schedule. This all depends on what is working for you and your family at this current time!

      6.) If you need to grab more items from what you temporarily set aside, readjust your goal number and go for one more week to make sure you’ve adjusted correctly. Also, if you didn’t use all of the outfits you set aside during that first week, perhaps you can put back more items into the temporary storage basket. Once you’ve readjusted test it out for one more week, just to be on the safe side.

      7.) When you feel like you have the right amount of clothing in their drawers, you’ll need to decide what to do with the leftovers. Storage? Goodwill? Hand-me-downs to a friend? Yard sale fodder? 🙂

      Once you have a solid concept of how much clothing you need for your child, it’s easier to estimate for future needs- eliminating most of the guesswork in stocking up when those great deals come around!

      • Beth T says:

        This is very helpful! I will be setting outfits out instead of just random shirts and pants. I just hit up a yard sale last week and scored a box of brand name, most new with tags boys clothes in the next size AND got a HUGE bag of hand-me-downs from a friend. So, my son’s closet is overflowing and I have to sort it all out by size, and organize it.

        I tend to only go to garage sales that specifically list NEW, WASHED, CLEAN, NO STAINS, boys clothes in the exact size range I am looking for and I only go to sales that list the average sales price of their items and the brands. It seems that going to any sales besides these is just a waste of time for us. I want my son to have nice, clothes that nobody would ever know came from a garage sale and being this particular about the sales listing saves me a lot of time running around searching through raggedy clothes and using up gas!

        • Kim says:

          I agree. I also always try to keep in mind the resale of the clothing as well. Once I’m done with them, I will usually take them to Once Upon a Child. By getting store credit, I actually make more. I just use the credit to purchase items from them also, which after my credit isn’t really any more than I had paid at the yard sale to begin with. My son is almost two and I haven’t had to hardly spend any money so far on clothes for him.

  • Julia says:

    Great strategies!

    Church garage sales are my favorite way to stock up on clothing. I am more likely to find a good selection of clothing there, and toward the end of the sale, I have been able to fill a back for a buck many times! I’ve also started to hone in on sales in my neighborhood, so that I can bike or walk rather than spend fuel to scour the whole city.

  • Carrie says:

    I am comfortable with asking for these discounts, but let’s also keep in mind that garage sales are friendly community events. I don’t want to be that lady who’s in the seller’s face demanding a better deal as if we’re on a stock trading floor.

    • Meg says:

      I agree! I will ask for a better price if I feel that the price is high. However, if I feel like I am getting a good deal I will not usually try to talk them down. I have been on the other end of it, and although you do want to get rid of your stuff, you would also like to make a little $$ for your efforts in putting the yard sale together.

      • Beth says:

        I feel the same way. 🙂 I’ve had a lot of moms tell me how annoying it is when they have a garage sale and their nice clothes are marked at .50 and someone will offer them a quarter. They’ll usually sell it but if it’s in really nice condition, or with tags, then I usually don’t. A lot of families put the clothes at $.50 just to sell them fast….I don’t want to be that annoying neighbor either. 🙂 Sometimes I will just get in a conversation with the family who is having the sale and say something like, “oh, these clothes are so nice, I would love to buy more but we just have to limit ourselves, I made myself a budget…” and a lot of times the mom will offer it at a cheaper price or ask how much I have. I purposefully don’t carry much cash in my pocket for this very reason so I can be truthful when I say, “I only have ____ much to spend today.” I just feel better about doing it that way, but maybe I’m “too nice.” 🙂 I had a friend tell me once she bartered on clothes at a garage sale only to find that the gal was her new next door neighbor and she was quite embarrased (it was a multi-family garage sale).

        • Melissa P says:

          Personally, I find it really annoying when I have a yard sale and people try to barter down things that are already $1 or .50. (not just clothes) Or when they offer $3 for a $10 item, etc. Honestly I would rather just donate the stuff, and not even bother having a yard sale when people are like that.

          • Natali says:

            I have to agree here, though I appreciate the desire to get a bargain – often I have items we’ve barely worn (they didn’t fit long or were given end of season, etc.) or even new things with tags. If I paid $50+ for a pair of nice jeans, (which I don’t do often!) and they are still in very good shape and you offer .25 cents, it feels no better than the people who sneak off with a bag of stuff they didn’t pay for. Bargain, but keep in mind what you’re getting too please.

        • This is what I was thinking too! I try to remember what it costs new. If there is a pair of shoes that are almost new looking, marked $1, I am saving $10-14 on that pair of shoes, I do not offer less, unless I really don’t have it and we really need it.
          I go with a list of what we need, clothes, stuff and I try to stick to it.

          • jodi says:

            I agree 100%…think about what the item costs…is it really reasonable to offer .25 for something? The seller is having the yard sale to make some money, and if an item is listed .50, that’s already far below retail. If they wanted to give the item away, they would have done so through Goodwill, etc and saved their time…

          • Stephanie says:

            Please don’t be annoyed with people, unless it is a ridiculous offer like $3 for an item that was $10. My mother and her friend used to drag us kids around to yard sales, flea markets, and antique stores. Sometimes they were the sellers and sometimes they were the buyers. But everytime there was bargaining going on. If you don’t want to go down on the price, then don’t. But most people figure it won’t hurt to ask. And many people are expecting you to have a counter offer, which is why they low-ball you. They may be willing to pay your asking price but they want the thrill of the deal (just like couponing). So now that I’m grown and having my own yard sales, I know what price I want and how much I’m willing to negotiate, if at all. It is okay to say no. If I don’t get my price, I’m not worried. I take all of my leftovers to Goodwill and the tax write-off.

        • Jessica says:

          I agree too. There is a point where people start offering less than it’s worth in a tax deduction, so I will say no since I typically have a charity pick up at my house the next day after I have a yard sale. I’ve had people get offended when I’ve declined their discounted price.

          Also, I have never seen clothes for 25 cents. Maybe because I live in the northeast, where everything costs more, but that is surprising.

          • Carrie says:

            I agree. The average price around here is $1-2 for a shirt. (I’m in the northeast too.) I have NEVER seen something for 25 cents! Also, I never ask someone to lower a price unless it’s what I consider unfair. I want to get a good deal but I also want them to feel like they’ve gotten a good deal as well. I’ve been on the other end of yard saling and you have to make it worth your time. 25 cents per item is NOT.

          • Stephanie says:

            I have never seen the good stuff for less than $2-3 dollars in metro Boston. If I find name brand pajamas or pants for $2 that is a major score. Usually the $1 items are in such bad shape that even Goodwill doesn’t want them.
            I have very good luck at group sales (last year’s Gap holiday dress for $5, Gymboree pj’s for $3, etc…) and consignment store sales.
            Where do people live that they are finding nice clothing for 50 cents?

      • I agree Meg! There are a few people who come to our yearly garage sales and we start to cringe when they walk up the driveway. They will stand there when there are 2 or 3 people behind them and offer less for every item, including ones that are marked under a dollar. I have actually watched people start to walk away and go to the next sale because they don’t want to stand behind these people who are trying to get a better deal, and then we miss out on those sales! I go to garage sales myself and will offer less if it’s a big ticket item, but not for something that is a couple dollars or less.

      • Kaitlyn says:

        Meg, I completely agree! Whenever my family, or anyone I know, holds a yard sale, a lot of times they put an ad in the paper, they make signs, they go the extra mile. That costs so much time and effort, and to sit there and to have someone take 25 pieces of clothes for a dollar isn’t worth getting up early, sitting outside, all the work to set up the place, to make a dollar or two and clear your entire pile of clothes out. I’m all for getting a great deal and saving money, but I think that when you have to bargain and haggle to make sure you save that extra 50 cents, is going a little bit too far.

    • I love garage sales and I frequent them often and maybe this is not the case in your area but in my area the only places to go to buy used items are rather expensive and garage sales are always cheaper for clothing even if they are more than 0.25 cents. So I recommend considering whether or not you are able to buy a pair of pants or shirts somewhere else for the same or better prices. I’m having a garage sale this weekend and I’m pricing all of my clothing for $1 and for this area that is a VERY good deal.

    • B Rei says:

      This may sound crazy to some, but when there is a supremely good deal on a garage sale item, and the seller is wonderful, I actually give them a bit more, thank them, and wish them good luck. My grandparents helped people all their lives, and it made me feel good to see that – so I’m passing it forward, and it makes the seller’s day. The best thing of all is staying within the budget, getting an awesome deal, and making someone’s day – a total win-win.

  • Shaina N says:

    I love yard sales! We don’t have a ton in my rural area, but every fourth of July weekend we have a 75 mike one with INSANE prices! My daughters clothes are 95% from yard sales and I have clothes saved for if I (or a family member) has a boy! I have a 77 gallon tote for each size in girls clothing from 0-3 months up to 2t-3t. I’m saving up money now for the yardsale next month!

  • Patti says:

    I just want to encourage folks to go to yard sales even if you don’t get there early in the morning. I always have good intentions, but never seem to make it out of the house early. I still have good success – I attribute it to God’s way of showing me what I need to see. If you do go later, lots of times folks are more willing to barter or say, “take all you want for XX amount.” I have seen lots of great children’s clothes later in the morning – maybe they were priced to high to begin with. So go for it! Every little bit helps.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m actually a little surprised at this advice. I have never been to a garage sale in either state I have lived in where good quality items were marked for 25 cents or even 50. Good quality items (if you are talking any name brands at all) go for $2-$3 each at least. Also, you couldn’t get those type of clothes any cheaper at a second hand store anyway, so it doesn’t surprise me that they are these prices. I don’t know if the author of this post doesn’t look for name brands or is just fortunate enough to live somewhere where everyone sells their items that cheap but I have never seen that! Shoes would also be at least a few dollars! What do you do when nothing is marked even close to that cheap? I would think a really lowball offer would seem rude.

    • Sarah says:

      I think garage sale prices vary by where you live – city, state, country or neighborhood. You just have to learn to shop where you are “planted” and find the best way for your area.

      • Jackie says:

        I live in CA, Inland Empire and I find that when people have yard sales they just want to make a little money and get rid of stuff. It is very typical to find name brand clothing in great condition for .25 to .50. I personally never ask people to mark down prices though. If it is not the price I want to spend I just move on.

    • Shelley says:

      I agree with you that it’s absolutely not possible to find things for $.25 in my area too but my sister in MI goes to Mom2Mom sales and gets tons of clothes for $.05-$.25 including brand new shoes so when I spend a couple dollars on something, she thinks its outrageous and I think it’s a great deal because its better than spending the $15 original price. I am a huge fan of JustBetweenFriends sales because the last day of the sale its 50% off and I have bought a Ralph Lauren romper for my son for $.50 and I usually spend $.50-$2 for brand name things. Might want to check out their website to see if there is one in your area.

    • Meg says:

      We also live in a higher priced area. My ‘buy price’ is a dollar per item if it is nice shape/brand. I have only seen one yard sale where clothes were priced at 25 cents, and very rarely see even 50 cents.

    • Lea Stormhammer says:

      I also think this depends on where you live. I think, even more than that, it depends on the goal of the seller. Sales labeled “Everything MUST go!” and the like tend to have better prices. So sales where people are just trying to get rid of things – rather than make a lot of money – are a great place to go! Where my parents live you can’t find anything with this kind of pricing, so they just skip the garage/yard/tag sales altogether there and look here where we live.

      I don’t shop a lot of sales – they usually run Thursday and Friday here which doesn’t work for my schedule – but a neighbor had a “moving sale” labeled with an “everything needs to go!” newspaper add. I walked over and spent $5 for 2 Aeroposle men’s polos, a Liz Claybourne (sp?) woman’s skirt, a Merona woman’s sweater, and a pair of Stride Rite girl’s boots! Totally worth $5 in my book! The shirts and boots were $1 each and the women’s clothes were 50 cents each.

      Another neighbor had children’s clothes for $2-$3 each. Gues how much business she got? 🙂

      Good luck with hunting for that well-priced sale!

    • Catherine says:

      Yes here if items are 25 cents they are probably at least 10-15 years old and look way out of date.

      Jeans here are usually 1.00-2.00 depending on brand
      T-shirts- 0.50-1.00
      Dresses 1.00-2.00
      Sleepers 1.00-2.00 (depending on brand and condition)
      Coats $3.00 and up

      Occasionally you’ll find someone who just wants to get rid of it all as fast as possible and will give you really cheap prices, but the above is usually about average.

      • Heather says:

        I really think it is all about quantity of sales you hit up. I’m guessing that every area has sales that are high and sales that are low, you just have to keep looking. The idea of a buy price is that when you walk into a sale you don’t feel the need to have to buy when the prices are marked high. You keep going and find the sales that are cheap. And then you camp out there and go through all the deals to fill out an entire wardrobe even if it is a long way ahead.

        Personally I am okay with walking away from a sale not buying anything even if I like the items. I scan and if prices are really high I just move one. Neighborhood sales are great for hitting a lot of sales quickly. I was in one where everything seemed high and then there was the mom with all her kids uniforms (white, blue and red polos and navy and khaki pants) for a quarter a piece. Guess where I spent my money.

        And at the cheap sales you will often find the top name brands too. It is easy to say they ‘never’ sell things that cheap, but that just isn’t true. I’ve been to sales in about 6 different states and bought beautiful clothes at the .25-.50 price all the time.

        Good luck!

    • Melissa says:

      I agree Sarah, I shop for most of my kids clothes at garage sales but anything under $1 is kind of unheard of. Those sales are very few and far between. I’ve had to adjust my price point to be $1 but paying up to $2 or $3 for name brand jeans or dresses. I always shop for the name brands – Gymboree, Gap, Children’s Place, etc. I think 2nd hand stores in our area are even more expensive, costing more than Wal-Mart or Target would cost new. Goodwill t-shirt prices for a child are $2-$3. Goodwill tends to range between $4 – $6 so I feel satisfied with my $1 price point.

    • peever says:

      I never see prices like that for good quality, name brand items either. It’s hard to find anything decent for less than $1-3. I don’t think you can offer 25 cents for a Gymboree shirt marked $3.

      Truthfully, I’m not a yard sale fan. I think it’s too time consuming, takes too much gas, and I hate bringing my kids along because of all the breakables and because my oldest constantly asks me to buy him things even though I’ve told him a million times that he either needs to use his own money and not ask me. I also don’t like having to buckle and unbuckle car seats a dozen times. The only time I go to yard sales is if someone has given me a heads up and I know it’s exactly what I’m looking for.

      I have much better luck shopping the 50-75% off sales at our local consignment and thrift stores. I only have to drive to one place, the prices are comparable, and I’ve always had good luck with that. I usually only pay $1-2 per item.

      I stockpile and have a spreadsheet as well.

      • I like yard sales, but I am also on the mailing list for all the major consignment sales. I try to go the first day for fresh finds and also the last day for 50% off to 75% off days. I find really great clothes on those last days for $0.25-$0.50. People should definitely search out consignment sales in their area and get on the mailing list.

      • Liz says:

        I agree. I would love to get great deals, but it just doesn’t fit into our family’s schedule. With a 2 year old and 7 month old, I don’t have the patience to drive around, buckle and unbuckle carseats, and then search through stuff in the blazing heat. Fortunately, my mother loves to do that and she always gets stuff for us for cheap 🙂 It’s not always something I would have picked out, but it’s free and who really cares what you’re wearing when you’re playing in the mud outside? 🙂

    • Liesel says:

      I agree with you. I am not opposed to paying $2-$3. I so rarely find many sales with clothes priced under $1. But that’s fine for me. I know what brands I am looking for based on the quality and the styles I like. So it’s still a huge discount from paying retail. My overall goal is to buy clothes at $1 a piece. And more often than not, I’m finding kids clothes priced in the $3-$7 range. That’s going a little too high for me! I can find brand new on clearance for that price. I also agree with asking about a lower price, it can’t hurt to ask, and if the owner doesn’t want to go any cheaper, they often say “if it’s still here on the last day…” or something to that effect. Most of the time, however, you can get it cheaper than ticketed. Love me some garage sales!

    • Lacy says:

      It must be where you live. I live in N. California (which seems way more expensive than South Carolina where I recently moved from), and went to yard sales last weekend and got some amazing deals. I bought a pair of Children’s Place jeans, Gymboree Tshirt (a design I’ve recently seen in stores) Old Navy zip up hoodie, Gap polo, Carters matching sweat pants and hoodie, 2 tshirts and a pair of pants from Target all sized 18mo to 2T for $3.55. I got myself a short sleeve light weight sweater, tshirt and skirt for $1. I also got 2 pampered chef cooking stones for $4 each and several other things for super good deals.
      So needless to say I disagree…. I’ve found plenty of deals like the ones she mentioned in this post.. Maybe its the neighborhood you’re shopping in.

    • Andrea Q says:

      I agree with Sarah. It must vary by region or the socioeconomic make up of the town/city/neighborhood. The target prices mentioned in the article are not realistic where I live. I expect to pay at least $1 per item of clothing and $5 for a winter jacket.

    • Sarah,
      I agree it would seem rude to offer that much less if the items are priced that high to begin with. If my husband or I find ourselves at a yard sale with those types of prices, we won’t bother to make an offer; we’ll just make our way to the next sale. And yes, prices do tend to vary depending on what area you live in. That’s why 25 cents is our family’s personal target price. If you live in a higher-priced area, you may need to set yourself a higher target.

      • Rachael says:

        I just had my first yard sale and tried to price things similiarly to others in my area. However, since it was my first sale and there were hundreds of items to mark, it can be hard to know how much to charge. I would have gladly negotiated and made a sale rather than people not buying an item.

    • Beth T says:

      Yep, this is a shocker to me too! Around here, the norm is 50c for kids tshirts, $1 for long-sleeve tshirts, $1-4 for name-brand pants, and $2-8 for kids shoes. That IS the lower price that you can negotiate or just pay straight up if its already a good price. The only stuff we can score around here for 25cents would be total junk that I would be mortified to put my kid in.

  • Danielle says:

    Do you have that spread sheet file that you would mind sharing? Or do you already have it posted on your website somewhere that I missed?

  • michelle says:

    I do the same thing, but for boys clothes above size 2T I upped my maximum buy price to $1 since it is hard to find boys clothes and it’s not worth a couple dollars to garage sale every weekend for an additional month to find the sizes I want. I have been purchasing boys clothes for the next 3-4 years in advance. If something gets ruined I don’t mind since I didn’t pay very much for it. Of course, for some specialty items like winter coats or church suits I do pay $3-5.

  • michelle says:

    I also use my GPS to help me find garage sales quickly.

  • Amanda says:

    While I can applaud you for your ideas…I am setting up a garage sale and the thought of giving up items for 25 cent makes me NOT want to do one. I know the clothes I put out are in Excellent condition and designer clothes so if someone wants to get a Gymboree Shirt for 25 cent I will balk at them. I think if they are off brands it’s one thing but Gap,Gymboree,Childrens Place and other high end items I am not going to sell to someone asking such a low price.

    • mamabug says:

      That’s why I don’t have yard sales. People in my community just see a piece of clothes, not the brand and quality and condition. I would rather sell to someone who wants the item because of the quality, brand and condition! 🙂

      • Carrie says:


        • Sara says:

          or try consigning them

          • Carrie says:

            I wish we had “true” consignment by me. Our local “Once Upon A Child” is nice, but not very reasonable, purchases and selling.

        • Sara says:

          Do you have consignment ‘events’ in your area? Here is one that we have twice a year. It’s in several states and appears to be growing! I like this one because the prices are set by the consignor, tend to be pretty reasonable and consignors get 70%. I’m sure there are other companies similar to this one if this particular one is not in your area.

          • Carrie says:

            Thanks for that link. I just checked and the closest one to me is in Ohio, and I live in downstate New York! There must be others, but I really think NY isn’t as big on consigning and yard sales as other parts of the country which seems plain weird to me, especially in this economy.

    • TatersMama says:

      Things definitely go for more around here…we’re talking $2-3 per name brand t-shirt. More for jeans, or whole outfits. The neighbors have been trying to sell their baby toys forever…but, when you have an obviously 15-year-old bassinet asking $250, and not willing to budge on price, you’re going to be waiting a while!

    • I have similar price points as the author of this post. I honestly do not care about labels of clothes for my kids and I think that most people who shop yard sales are looking for a bargain- a super duper good deal- and aren’t going to care so much about a Tommy Hilfiger boys shirt as much as nice clothes for cheap. People who care about labels will probably not yard sale shop!

      • Molly says:

        I am a yard-saler that cares about brands. My daughter is 9 and is starting to care about brands and being trendy. If we shop garage sales, we can get like-new clothes from Justice, Gap, etc. without breaking the bank. I am already done with her fall clothes and I spent around $2 per shirt, but they are all name brand and look brand new. I know these brands wash well and that they’ll be passed down to the little sister, so I’m willing to pay a different price for brands/quality that last longer.

      • Sara says:

        That’s pretty over generalized. I like name brands for the quality. I do buy plenty of name brand clothes at yard sales and thrift shops. My price point is higher (but not by much) than this article suggests, but I also do not have to buy an entire season’s wardrobe. We’ve been blessed with hand-me-downs, so the yard sales and thrift shop finds are supplemental clothing (ex. the jeans we received might be ripped so I search out a good pair of jeans). I rarely buy brand new…and I like labels!

    • Melissa says:

      Amanda, I would expect to see those brands at 25cents. My price point is $1 but I pay $2-$3 for nice items as well. I was able to turn around and sell all the clothes at my rummage sale for what I paid.

    • Andrea Q says:

      Not to be snotty, but many don’t consider those brands “high end”, especially Children’s Place (the quality of which has gone way down in the last couple of years). I’ve been to sales in my area that consider the labels you listed “off brands”.

      • Lisette says:

        Gymboree is an off brand? That is amazing.

      • Sherri says:

        Well, I just learned something about myself because I have never heard of any of those brands! If I had seen them at a yard sale I would have marvelled at the high price tags and wondered why.

        Personally, I could not care less about the name on the label. My kids are happy to get clothes in colors/styles that they like, and so far labels mean nothing (13yo twins). If I can buy a piece of clothing for a quarter that looks nice, then that is what’s important. My kids can get holes in (or spill something on) name-brand jeans just as easily as the “cheaper” ones, so I see no need to pay more for “quality.” I can usually sell/hand down about 75% of their clothes after they are outgrown, so we don’t seem to be suffering from poor quality.

    • Amy says:

      For the work of having a garage sale, it makes more sense (to me!) to donate clothes to charity and take the tax write-off rather than only get a quarter an item. That said, I do love when I find a garage sale where they’re offering such great deals! Fifty cents is usually my goal for items… and then I don’t care if things get stained or ripped! I also get a lot of my kids Christmas & birthday presents at yard sales – they’re still little enough to be excited about something new to them and couldn’t care less that it isn’t new from the store.

    • Valerie says:

      By putting your clothes on a hanging rack you can get higher prices for them than just laying them on a table or the ground. I usually put a higher price on my nice clothing and if it doesn’t sell than I group it together and put on craigslist or ebay. If your clothing is in great condition and all name brand you can get a good amount for your clothing if you research ways. I have also advertised through facebook. Many of my friends would jump at the chance of great clothing at a lower cost.

  • Amy says:

    I LOVE shopping for clothing for my son @ yard sales. He just turned 2 and I haven’t paid more than $2 an item for him since he was born. I’m now working on a stockpile of 2T, 3T, and 4T for him. I need to start a spreadsheet like you mentioned. Right now I have everything stored in bags in my office and am not sure exactly what I have.

  • I buy almost ALL OF MY KID’S THINGS at yard sales!! This weekend I bought GYMBOREE, OLD NAVY, RALPH LAUREN, AND GAP clothes for my daughters for $.25 each! I have pictures of my finds on my blog. If I can do it, you can too! I paid $7.00 for 28 pieces of name brand clothing. No children’s place monster sale can top that!!

    If you want to save money in all areas of your life, yard sales are the way to go. I take pictures each week of my finds and post them for you to see. It’s really interesting to see what people literally give away for free or almost free.

    Good luck and I hope you are all inspired to go shopping on Saturday morning before the sun comes up!

  • mamabug says:

    It takes a little more work, but you can MAKE money on clothes thus making wardrobing your children free. 😉 Gymboree is one brand that has high resale values. I bought a dress that retailed for $30+ for $6. My daughter will wear it and I will be able to resell it for at least $15.

    Not only do I make money on reselling my childrens’ clothing but I still get the fun of shopping retail and finding exactly what I WANT for them, not just what someone has left over at a yard sale. That’s not to say I don’t shop yard sales and thrift shops now and then. I’ve went both routes as we stockpiled clothes when our kids were smaller.

    A few thoughts I have after having done things both ways …
    ~ I found that air tight storage tubs aren’t always great ways to store clothes as we still noticed problems with materials deteriorating after a few years.
    ~Even classic pieces become dated. I can look at clothes from some of the popular brands and tell you just how old they are.
    ~Sizes do not run the same for each clothing brand. You can buy a size 8 hoping your daughter will wear it when she hits size 8 but it may be more like a 6 and you don’t realize it until she’s already outgrown it. ~Also, how something was washed or dried will make a difference in how it fits. Things dried in a hot dryer will shrink and sometimes be ill fitting. Its not always noticeable on the hanger or while folded in a stack. Sometimes you only really notice when it is on the body.
    ~ Used shoes aren’t necessarily a good idea once children get past toddling stage. I won’t buy used shoes as they get broke in to a specific child’s foot and then don’t work well for others. I’d rather splurge a little and protect my children’s feet. My grandma was raised wearing second hand shoes and she had many, many problems with her feet that her doctors attributed to the second hand shoes. If shoes are very lightly worn then its easier to justify used shoes. My SIL sends used shoes that my niece outgrew for my daughter. I know that my niece has about 50 pair of shoes every season and each pair gets worn maybe three times so I’m okay with that but I won’t buy second hand if I don’t know the history.
    ~ Once my kids hit 5 years old, buying in advance didn’t work for us as they developed specific tastes about what they like and do not like. I’m not saying my kids are picky or worried about fashion but they do have their preferences and having a tub full of denim jeans for winter when your child prefers something else entirely. My daughter went through a dress phase this year and has never been really in to wearing dresses in the past. Had I been buying ahead for her based on typical habits I would have only had a few church dresses, not a plethora of play dresses because she has never worn them in the past. Sure, I could MAKE them wear something they aren’t thrilled with but kids need to learn to make choices about things like clothes to express their individuality.

    In the end what I do is a combination of things. I buy clothes at second hand stores and yard sales for just pennies. Our thrift store charges 10 cents for kids clothes and they have never charged me for each piece individually either. If I have 15-20 items they’ll typically ask for $1. I also buy name brand clothes, new at retail stores or online, for at least 60-80% off during special sales. These items I resell for up to 4x what I paid for them through either eBay or groups devoted to specific brands of clothes. People become loyal to brands or are looking for things to match specific outfits, replace favorite pieces, etc. I also buy things at rock bottom prices at department stores as well as Walmart and Target. These don’t have the same high resale value but they do have some resale value if you choose to go that route. I prefer to donate these items to our local thrift store to help other moms in my community. I don’t buy items just because they are cheap either. I buy only what my children love, items that are well made and nice quality and nothing too trendy though that is hard to avoid because as I mentioned earlier, even classic pieces become dated.

  • Lisa says:

    I think this might be a regional thing. Where I lived in GA, nice garage sale clothes where far more than that. For .25 it would be more cost effective for the yard salers to take their clothes to Goodwill and take the tax break.

  • Kris says:

    Like all tips, this is a YMMV thing. I find most of my kids’ clothes at a big county-wide consignment sale held 3-4 times a year. I get clothes in great condition at $1-2 an item, still well under what I used to pay for nice clearance clothes ($3 an item at Carters).

    Plus, now I sell clothes back and often make back what I paid for them.

  • Lydia says:

    This is EXACTLY how I do yard sales (although my buy price is $0.50- don’t think I could find ANYTHING nice for $0.25 around here!). And I have saved so much on clothes for my son the 3 years since he’s been around. I also like to look for clothes a year ahead while I’m at it. So for instance this year I’m looking for size 3 winter clothes and anything in size 4 too. This gives me more of a chance of finding all that I need at good prices.

  • Carrie says:

    I’m in a region where no one would sell name-brand clothing for that cheap either (Long Island, NY). Even at the end of the day, I rarely, if ever find things less than $1, so I often skip yard sales. This may encourage me to try again, but it’s also difficult to look carefully with a two-year-old in tow.

    • Like anything else worth doing, you have to shop yard sales diligently and consistently to find the really awesome prices. For every 40 yard sales I shop, there might be only one with the super cheap nice clothes. The other 39 I pass up, but after yard sailing for 8 years, I know that eventually I will hit the one cheap yard sale where a mom just wants the clothes out of her house and to a good home!

      If you just shop one single Saturday morning and expect to hit pay dirt, it probably won’t happen. It takes perseverance and determination to spend a few weekends yard sailing to build your stockpile. It’s worth a try!

      • BethB says:

        Honestly, this is why I don’t do yard sales or thrift stores. I don’t have anything against it but in terms of my time it’s just not worth it. I’ve tried various organization or school rummage sales as well as yard sales and I don’t have the time to look for the one great sale nor do I enjoy that kind of bargain hunting. I often work on evenings and weekends so I don’t like spending what little family time we have going around to dozens of yard sales. It’s one of those things I really admire and respect other Moms for but it’s not worth the effort to fit into my life right now.

        • ksenia says:

          I agree with you BethB. … 40 garage sales to find ONE good one? Let’s say it takes (at least) 15 minutes per garage sale (traveling, parking, looking through it). 15 x 40 = 600 minutes. 600 minutes is 10 hours. I value my time to be worth at least minimum wage (in our state almost 8 dollars). That is at least 80 dollars to get find one good garage sale.

          Unless someone really enjoys spending all of their weekends doing this, I don’t see how it’s worth it.

          That said, last week I went to one garage sale and paid $1.70 per item for all brand name, almost entirely new clothing for my two kids. THAT was worth it to me.

          Again, if you enjoy it — it’s worth it. If you don’t — totally not.

      • Carrie says:

        I admire that you can do that but I don’t think most people have the time for that.

    • margaret says:

      I’m also on Long Island, and its totally hit or miss, I’ve had luck with estate sales though. I went with a friend, and we had 2 vintage tennis raquets, this cork screw set thing, 3 candle holders still in the box, and a couple of little linens for the kitchen, and we went up with it and the guy was like hmm.. how about 5 bucks? haha

      • Lauren says:

        I agree that yardsailing can be hit or miss. I must say though, if you live in an area with a high turnover for people moving (we are military, so that is true of pretty much any town we live in) there are some great deals to be had! I think the best advice is to know what things are worth and what the going rate is for the item so that you can compare sales. I am pregnant with my first child, and I have bought almost all the clothes that we have for him at yard sales. I do care about brands, and if I couldn’t find name brand items at yard sales I would buy them in stores (instead of not having name brand clothes). I have stocked the drawers with Carters, Gymboree, Baby Gap, Oshkosh, etc. As some others have pointed out, these are not the *highest* end brands, but for everyday “play clothes” I am happy with them, and buying things at yard sales will make me feel less guilty about spending more on a special outfit for pictures, holidays, etc.
        I’ve also bought tons of baby items at yard sales for great deals. I got a hiking backpack (that holds the baby on your back) for $5, a Baby Bjorn for $2, a Boppy with a cover for $5 (I sold the cover on Ebay for $5, so it was basically free), and a swing for $7. I know when I go to sales approximately what I will pay for things or what is reasonable for that item, so I know when to walk away.

  • Amy says: is a website that will take your home address and do a search in craigslist and return to you a list of sales in your area ALONG with a suggested route. You can even add in other sales not on craigslist and it will add them to your route. This is a great tool!

  • TatersMama says:

    These are some great tips, and I am sure they work for most people. Not discounting the tips, since I think they are very useful! But, I think the quality of yard sales is highly regional. We are in CA, and things at yard sales are a.) very expensive and b.) not good quality. People would rather take things to Goodwill around here, than do yard sales. We have been very blessed to get hand-me-downs, though. I love the spreadsheet tip–I need to start using that. I just looked at my daughter’s clothes for next season, and she has 7 pairs of jeans! She’s 3!

  • Emily says:

    Just a little tip from someone who has hosted garage sales in the past: there is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING more frustrating than pricing good, quality children’s items to sell (meaning under $1 per item) and having someone offer you 10 cents for it (and then getting upset when you aren’t willing to take that little for it). Be prepared to haggle a little yes, but don’t insult people’s time and effort in trying to properly prepare a garage sale in order to make some money.

    • Kristen says:

      I was thinking the same exact thing. Of course I understand I can just say no, but it’s still irritating when you already have amazing prices and everyone wants to ask less! Almost makes me want to mark up my prices since it’s inevitable someone will ask for it for less, no matter what it’s marked 🙂

      • Lynne says:

        I completely agree with this. When I have a garage sale, I typically price things with the prices I hope to get. I price things very reasonably and am realistic about the items’ value. I find it very rude when people try to haggle. Buyers need to remember that sellers have the sales not only to clear out their excess items, but also to make a little bit of money, too. Having a sale is A LOT of work, and no, I am not interested in giving these things away for free. I like to save money just as much as the next gal, but lowball haggling is disrespectful and offensive.

      • Sherri says:

        I actually do mark up my prices a bit to give me some wiggle room for hagglers. If I want $10 for the rocking chair, I may price it $12-13, so that if someone offers me $10, then we both think we got a good deal. 🙂

    • Krysten says:

      I agree. When I price my son’s clothes, the majority of them have 25 or 50-cent stickers on them unless it’s a more expensive item like coats or shoes. I’m not very willing to haggle with people on prices since I already price my stuff lower than most garage sales in my area (I generally buy my son’s clothes at $.50-$1.00/item).

    • Emily,
      We just got done having our own yard sale as well, and I can totally understand from the seller’s point of view too. I don’t want people to think I meant to offer way lower than what the seller is asking. If the asking price is not close to what you’re willing to pay, don’t insult them by asking them to come down so far. I don’t get offended when people ask me to come down a little, but it does bother me when they want me to come way down and then get all huffy when I say that I can’t.

    • Amy says:

      Thank you for this. I have hosted many a yard sale, in the heat of the summer no less. They have all been sales where people have donated their items for benefit purposes. (and have been advertised as fundraisers, too.) It is so, so much work to get everything organized and get out there and set good prices that will attract people and purchases, but also will bring in money to fund the cause. The people that come the earliest, like at the first sign of daylight, way before the advertised start time, are the worst! Then they get upset and mean because it looks like they came all the way out here for “nothing” (when if they had waited another forty five minutes, the stuff would have been out and ready for them to see) . And they offer $.25 for a like new, brand name piece of clothing, or offer a dollar for five pieces of mix/match, like new gymboree clothing plus socks or a hat, that are marked $5 a set, and then think we are at fault for not accepting it? Get real!
      I understand people have price points and are looking for a deal, but it is a little insulting. If we wanted to just throw our stuff away, or wanted people to have it for free, we would have “freecycle”d it or just dropped it off at Goodwill.

      • ksenia says:

        Oh my gosh! I so agree! The “early birds” can be (not all) so frustrating! $0.25 / item is basically free. If it’s a nice piece of clothing in good shape people need to get real and pay a decent amount.

    • Guest says:

      This is why I don’t have yard sales anymore. The amount of time it takes to price everything, get it laid out nicely, work the actual sale, etc. is not going to have a good return if I’m selling our things for ten cents.

  • Kristen says:

    I bought all my daughters clothes at yard sales when she was young, but now that she is in a size 5 I find this MUCH harder to do. At that age they usually wear the clothes for longer, and are a lot harder on them! But, I’ve been able to get clearance for between $.25 and $2 from Old Navy, Gap, and Childrens Place. I’ll still check around yard sales, but it just gets frustrating going to 15 different yard sales and not finding anything.

    • ksenia says:

      The older they are the harder it is — you are so right! It’s not worth your time, unless you really like that kind of a saturday morning 🙂

    • Beth T says:

      We shop the outlet mall locally and they send coupons frequently on top of the low prices. I can often get my pick of any type of clothing for less then $2 an item which is SO worth it to me! That being said, I still garage sale occasionally if I see an amazing sale listing!

  • Where I live, prices are high ($2-$5). I remember someone wanting $5 (each) for onesies, just because they were name-brand! Sales are far and few in between, making it difficult to find much.

    This hasn’t stopped me from shopping yard sales–but in a very different way. I have a friend (she is older, and all of her children are grown) who vacations out of state. She goes somewhere where it is cooler, and she lives there for 3 months (she is retired). She goes garage sale shopping up there, and she offered to take my list and to look for me. Her target price is $.25 to $1, but she has spent more on a few nicer items ($5 on a new dress, and $4 on a coat). Because our climates are so different (we wear shorts most of the year here, and they wear pants and warm clothing) she is able to get some wonderful, barely worn summer clothes for my children, and lots of clothing for the rest of the year as well. She mostly shops for my boys, but she also gets a few sweaters and coats for my girls. She has even brought back dress-up clothes!

    Having a personal garage sale shopper works for me! 😉

    I am very grateful for her!

  • Jill says:

    Not to sound like a snob, but I hit the wealthy neighborhoods (usually neighborhood sales) in my tri-state because they tend to be people who buy brand name clothes – new for each child, so they stay in good shape. They also seem to be more willing to sell for better prices because they’re not financially concerned about making a big profit from their sale – they just want to get rid of their stuff. This is my experience, anyway 🙂

    • Carrie says:

      Totally true — the more money people have, the less they worry about making $$ at their rummage sale!

      • Kristen says:

        I’ve actually found the opposite, most of the high end areas I’ve been to they have things priced waaaay too high! Maybe I’ll try again this summer though 🙂

    • Sherri says:

      I’ve found it can go either way- they want to get rid of stuff, so you find really nice things cheap, or they think that since they paid $75 for those jeans that someone will buy them for $25 (even with holes!) These are not people who normally buy things at yard sales, so they are not as informed about “going rates” and may miss the mark in either direction. I either glance quickly and leave (too pricey) or camp out for 30 minutes- just depends.

    • Beth T says:

      This works for me too! The high-end neighborhoods by my house usually have SO many clothes for each kid that are name-brand and barely worn that I can usually haggle to $1 an item (which I feel is typically fair for what they have to offer) and we both get a decent deal.

  • Naomi says:

    Does anyone have a spreadsheet like this that they would be willing to share?

  • I do this too but I LOVE your spreadsheet idea. In my “spare time” I need to do this!

  • Suzy @ says:

    In our area the deals at Yard Sales aren’t that great. Instead of taking tons of time driving from one Yard/Garage sale to the next we shop a ton of Clearance at Target, Children’s Place, and Old Navy. Also we shop Kid’s consignment stores and thrift stores. We are able to buy our kids clothes for between$1 and $5 an item… Somethings like jeans and shoes are $6 to $10. We are able to spend $50- $75 per child per season and that is the best deal we can find in our area 🙂

  • boyzmom says:

    I shop garage sales and GoodWill all the time. My granddaughter is 4 years older then my daughter (my husband has children from a previous marriage and he is 18 yrs older then me) and any clothes that I have bought her my DIL gives back to me and now she has a 4 month old daughter and I let her go through all of the totes of clothes that my daughter Piper has outgrown, including the ones that were worn by my granddaughter already. We definitely save money this way. When I am shopping at garage sales and GoodWill I will only purchase the name brand clothing. I went this past weekend but didn’t find much of anything. I also frequent the consignment stores we have in town for their clearance racks. My boys are 8 years apart so it would be quite some time before they could share clothes. But I do give them to my husbands neice’s son who is only a year younger. I believe in trading clothes as much as I can. I just got my daughter 7 pairs of shorts sized 12-24 months and a couple of dresses for this summer.

  • Jen60647 says:

    Keep in mind that this advice is for yard sale BUYERS not SELLERS. Sellers should be aware of this information and be prepared for these kind of buyers to shop their sales. As a seller, they annoy me to no end. LOL! But when I’m in buying mode, this is exactly the kind of buyer I am too. I’m looking for deals.
    I’ve had success with loading a bin up with the things I don’t mind selling for a quarter. Put all the used Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Old Navy and Forever 21 and anything in “play” condition items in here. Then display the priced accordingly higher value items like Gap, Gymboree, Childrens Place, Limited Too, Justice, Abercrombie etc. on another table. When the 25-cent type buyers come a-bargain-huntin’ you can tell them that you have some really good deals in that bin over there and hand them a shopping bag.
    I also agree that yard sales should be a last resort for clearing out the closets. Sell on eBay first!

    • I whole-heartedly agree. Selling on ebay is easy and will bring you top dollar for your used clothes, name-brand or not. It’s easy and so worth the time. Plus, shipping materials are free from and your mailman will pick up your boxed items right from your doorstep–you never have to leave the house. There are many blogs (like mine) than can give you some tips on how to do this!

      • Jill says:

        I’ve had terrible luck selling clothes on ebay. And I’ve sold Gymboree, Ralph Lauren, etc. What seems to get people is that cost of shipping, which these days has gotten to be very expensive. And if you are saying that shipping materials are free from the post office, I assume you are shipping priority? That makes it even more expensive, which means that buyers won’t bid (at least in my experience). Then when you factor in the fees from ebay and paypal, it rarely is worth it for me. Plus I find clothing much harder to list than other things, because often the buyers want inseam measurements. I’d rather donate my clothes to a local charity shop that itemizes all my donations and sends me a letter at the end of the year.

  • Amanda says:

    MONEY: I agree that the target price at yard sales is based on region, personal preference, neighborhood, and the seller’s yard sale experience. When I have name brand clothes to sell, I try to list in a lot on Craigslist so that I can make the desired amount of money that I want.

    STORAGE: We’ve been blessed with many hand-me-downs for our girls, and it benefits us greatly to keep sizes well in advance of their current wearing size. (We’re also very blessed and thankful to finally have a basement!) We keep 2 15-gallon bins per size of clothing: 1 spring/summer, 1 fall/winter. This is a LOT of clothes per size, so I only allow what will fit in those generous bins, and purge extra. My oldest is 4, but we have clothes up to 7/8. It seemed like keeping size 2t was strange when she was 6 months, but I’m thankful we did! It’s so nice to not have to go buy a full wardrobe, but to supplement what we need! This wouldn’t work for everyone/those without storage space, but if you have the storage space, it’s worth it! We store shoes in under-the-bed storage containers. (They’re actually see-through red and green containers for wrapping paper that were on clearance after Christmas.)

    ORGANIZATION: I LOVE the spreadsheet idea and would LOVE that addition to printable sheets on this site! 😉

    ATTITUDE: When I ask a lower price at a yard sale and the seller refuses, I try to accept their answer graciously, even when disappointed. When I’m selling and someone asks a lower price, I try not to get offended: if a buyer is shopping yard sales, they’re obviously trying to save as much money as possible! If I know I’ve priced reasonably, I can wait for someone who will pay my asking price; if I want to just get rid of it, I’m more likely to accept their offer.

    TIMING: Sadly, we haven’t hit many yard sales this summer OR last! I have 3 girls 4 and under, and it’s difficult (for me) to drag them around town. My husband has been really helpful by coming with me on the weekends that he’s not working. We wait until late to go out to let the girls get their rest, and we’ve gotten quite a few good deals. I think lots of these topics are based upon balance and what works best for your situation. (i.e., going early to get more/going late with less selection but better possible prices, etc.)

    APOLOGY: I think this is my 1st time commenting on this blog & it turned into a mini-post, ha! Sorry about that! =)

    • maria says:

      I loved this comment! Thank you! I was shopping for a gift for my neice (I dont have children yet) and was so surprised at how much those clothes cost! and i was only at kohls (not some fancy store)! it completely amazes me to see the same price of a shirt that i could get for MY shirt! For a 3 year old and a 21 year year old to pay the same amount for something with so much less cloth blows my mind. i was thinking that i was going to need to learn how to sew before i have kids LOL

  • Rosie says:

    very nice article. I started stockpiling kids clothes about 18 months ago and I only purchase next size up so that I only have to keep track of what we have for next winter/summer. We’re about to have #3 and I anticipate need to buy very little for this child, as I already have a girl and a boy and I’ve saved all their clothes. In my area, I do find that I can buy new for cheaper than at yard sales. There are lots of sales around here that do sell high quality clothes every year (like Gymboree) but I find their prices to be higher than I might find comparable items for at Gymboree during Red Balloon with a coupon. But, maybe part of that is that I’m not putting enough effort into yardsales. Also, do’nt forget to factor the cost of gas in. I could easily burn half a tank of gas (at least $25 in my little sedan) trying to hit several good kid yardsales on a single weekend.

  • Katie says:

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to guess what size your child will be wearing by what season? We live in Iowa so we need winter clothes and summer clothes. I don’t want to stock up on a bunch of winter clothes to find out he doesn’t fit in them during the cold winter months. It has kept me from buying ahead because I don’t want a bunch of clothes taking up space that won’t ever be worn. He is 19 months and he is currently wearing 24 month shirts and 18 month shorts. I can’t decide what size to buy for the winter!

    • One thing to keep in mind is that when you buy from a yard sale, the clothes have already been washed multiple times and have probably shrunk up a bit. I tend to buy a size bigger than I think I need to make up for the shrinkage. This has worked for me for years.

      Good question, though!

    • Krysten says:

      I am in exactly the same boat as you! I live in Illinois and have a 19-month-old son who is wearing about the same sizes as your son. Now that he’s wearing regular shirts instead of the onesie-type ones, shirts seem to last longer which makes it a bit easier. Pants have to be exact, though. I hate to see him tripping over his pant legs, and it drives me nuts when he sits down and his pant legs come halfway up his leg! I guess I’m a perfectionist! =)

      I generally buy him clothing in each size for both summer and winter at this point. For example, he’s wearing 24 mon/2t shirts now (and he was into that size by around March so he already wore the winter items in that size). I figure that he may be wearing 3t by the end of this summer and during the start of the cold season (so I need both summer & winter clothes in that size). Then if he hits a growth spurt after Christmas like last year, he may be into 4t by the end of the winter, and he would also need that size when the weather warms next spring.

      I bought him clothes through size 2t last summer. He’s worn all the shirts, but the pants look like they will last him through next year, so I’m buying him only shirts and sweaters for this next year in 3t and 4t. Hope that helps some! The only thing I’m completely clueless on is shoe sizes – I have no idea what size boots to buy him for next winter!

    • Meg says:

      When I buy ahead, I try to make an ‘educated guess’, and I figure that I would rather pay a few bucks now for say, a winter coat, then to have to pay full price when I need one in the winter. So if the coat happens not to fit, I am only out $2-3 but if I pass the coat by, then I may have to shell out $30 for a new coat. Hope that makes sense!

    • BethB says:

      I’m in Wisconsin and honestly, I’ve never bought winter clothes my kids ended up not being able to wear. Mostly because in Milwaukee we are colder than Iowa for much of the spring (My parents are in Des Moines, I grew up there) so long sleeves are wearable nine months of the year. Summer clothes is where I end up getting in trouble in terms of size so I’ve started buying one size up from where I think they’ll be. It’s honestly not a big deal if short sleeved shirts are too big, in my opinion. Shorts and pants are harder so I’ve stopped buying ahead for those. With my first son I think we ended up with half a dozen pairs of pants that never fit him right so I just wait and shell out new each season.

      • chris says:

        This year we may need long sleeves all twelve months. Just a little rant on the cold spring and early summer we have had this year.

    • Kristy says:

      I also always buy a size larger than I really think my daughter is going to wear. In general, she can wear the clothes if they are too big but not if they are too small. If they start wearing the clothes when they are extra roomy, you get more wear out of them anyway. I need to figure out how to guess what clothes my daughter will be willing to wear. This week it’s shirts with animals and last week she was all about the polka dots. I keep thinking that what I really need a good deal on is a crystal ball . . .

    • Beth T says:

      In northern Indiana, we wear winter clothes all year round (even summer nights have called for fleece winter coats lol). So, I end up buying everything in every size but only 4-5 pairs of shorts. Now that my son is 20 months, he wears everything a lot longer. I figure even in the winter the t-shirts and sleeveless shirts can be layered. This works great for us. We also buy a lot of clothes. I budget in other areas so that I can afford $50 per size for my son’s clothes so this works well for us. I obviously stretch that money as far as I can but with hand-me-downs from friends, some garage sales, and some clearance–we have stuff in every size and I don’t feel bad if not everything fits because I can resell it for what I paid for it at the next garage sale (Assuming all these 25cent people don’t come along–but I haven’t had anyone lowball me like that yet at a sale! lol)

  • Tallymomma says:

    I live in an area where there are some local ladies that host a One Week Boutique where “consignors” or people all over the community bring together their gently used kids clothes, toys, books, and TONS of other items to sell. The ladies rent out a space for 1 week and everyone brings in their stuff to sell. They get 30% of what everyone sells to cover costs and I’m sure make a profit. I would check around see if there is something like this in your area and if not maybe you might team up with someone brave and start one 🙂

  • amber says:

    I agree, I also have a set price I will pay for items at yard sales. For clothes usually 25-50 cents. Unless it is a nice dress or shoes then I will spend $1 tops. In my area I can find good quality clothes for that price.

    When I go to my in-laws area (richer) it is hard for me to find anything under a few bucks.

    You also want to check craiglist on Sat afternoon. Sometimes people will give their yard sale leftovers away. I have been lucky enough to find these near me a few times. I will pick the boxes up and bring them home. After I take out what I can use I box the rest up and re-post it on craigslist for someone else to pick up.

  • Mel says:

    Oh my goodness! When you add in numbers and detailed hints like the spreadsheets and tubs, you have opened my eyes! I thought $3 shirts at Target were a bargain! I will never pass up a yard sale again! Thank you so much for taking the time to give detailed hints and even targeted budgets on yard sales! This helped me price items as a yard saler AND set a yard sale budget as a buyer! AWESOME article!

  • Leighann says:

    I love getting clothes from yard sales. A few months back, right before I had my youngest one, I ran across a yard sale where I got an entire huge box of clothes (size newborn to size 5) for $20. There were well over 100 articles of clothing in there, most of them size 3T, which is what my middle daughter wears, and a few pieces that were gender neutral that my son can wear. The bigger clothes got put away for later for my daughter. GREAT deal, I was so happy.

  • Heather says:

    For those of you with good quality items to sell, I suggest selling over Craigs List. I was able to get a lot more money for my son’s name brand clothing but listing it on Craigs List as opposed to sticking it out at a yard sale.

    I have baby items for maybe $1 each and small children’s clothing but the area where I live is expensive and yard sale prices do reflect that. Most people are not selling Wal Mart or Target brand clothing either so they do want a little more money.

    But the bag idea is a great one – especially if it is towards the end of the sale. Most people will encourage you to do that take as much as you want for one set price – they don’t want to drag it all back inside. I have always found some of the best deals later on in the morning. Also if there are TONS of yard sales one weekend – you can usually do better because of the volume. I would pick the weekends where they had the most advertised and then go out.

  • Erin says:

    You should never buy used shoes for your child – everyone walks differently and creates different imprints in the soles so having your child wear used shoes can damage their foot and impact how they walk as they try to fit into someone elses imprint.
    Always spend your money on shoes and a good mattress!

    • Ann says:

      I think this depends on how ‘used’ the shoes are. My kids (now 18 and 16) grew up in lightly used shoes purchased very cheaply at church rummage sales and PTA-sponsored kids consignment clothing sales. Neither has any foot issues.

      I generally don’t like to go to garage sales – too much driving. Luckily, there are loads of church rummage sales in my area (west Chicago suburbs) and many elementary school PTA groups put on used clothing consignment sales twice a year. Usually second day is half price. Most of the church sales have bag sales ($3 is the going rate these days) on the last afternoon of the sale.

    • Molly says:

      I’m with you, Erin. And may I add to the “we only buy new” list….underwear! :o)

  • Jennifer says:

    Awesome post! Here’s an example of what happened at our yard sale last week: A very young girl obviously pregnant was buying items, very cost-conscious. She eyed a 6m baby gap fuzzy coat with matching pants to make a complete bunting or just a coat if you want for 2$. She said,’ Oh, I won’t need that for a while.’ I said, ‘hon, if you wait till he needs it there won’t be any yard sales.’ I think for some this is the best example. If you have 4 kids and at the cheapest get them winter coats for 15$ each every year new, you can easily buy them one for 1$ in the july heat. That alone will save you a ton. We also love nike basketball type shorts for boys, they wash well and don’t hold stains like other cotton shorts.
    Sorry, but I too used to ask for deals and now I never do. I’ve dealt with so many rude fellow customers I’ve been too embarrassed to ever do it again.

  • Heather says:

    I did a post on this very topic a few weeks back when I purchased my son’s winter wardrobe for $14 – a savings of $324.00!

  • Kendra says:

    I LOVE going to garage sales and finding great deals on nice children’s clothing but the few times I’ve been able to do this is when another person is with me so they can stay in the car with my daughter. Do you all go alone? Do you take your toddlers with you to the actual garage sale? My 2 1/2 y.o. wouldn’t have the patience to wait while I rummage through a box of clothing. Before she was born, I went every weekend and stocked up on clothing, but only for her first few months…boy, if I only KNEW how hard it would be to garage sale with a baby/toddler, I would have stocked up until at least 4T size!

    • Yes, it is hard with children! My husband has that magnetic personality that seems like people are more quick to give him better deals, so he usually goes by himself, while the kids and I sleep in. 🙂 When we do take the kids, we all go together so one can watch kids while the other one shops.

    • michelle says:

      I take my two year old nearly every Friday. Last year he was in a stroller and it was a lot easier, but now after about 8 weeks of garage saling he is getting much better at staying near me or simply playing with a small toy he brings or is for sale at the garage sale. We frequently end up buying little toys for a quarter since that is what he was playing with. He is understanding that he gets lots more toys when we go to garage sales and it is a nice walk outside. It is a challenge to keep an eye on a child and browse the merchandise, but it is possible. Sometimes I don’t get to look as thoroughly as I might like because he is losing patience but that is just part of the training process.

    • Sherri says:

      Most of the time I leave the kids at home with my husband. He is willing to watch the kids because he knows it is economical for our family, and he wants me to have some time to myself. I greatly appreciate that.

      When I was nursing, I knew I only had a certain window of time before I had to be back home again, but I was able to move faster by myself. Sometimes one of the older kids comes along, and that works okay. When the 4yo comes, it is far more complicated and stressful. I try to avoid that as much as possible.

  • deanna says:

    I have been doing this since before my first son was born. I go garage saling almost every friday! I keep a set price that I am willing to pay per item and try to stick to it. When I return home with my finds I wash and sort them. Then I sort them into to bins by size and season. When it is time for bigger sizes or the next season I pull out then bin and restock the dresser! I hardly ever have to go clothes shopping for my 3 kids. This coming school year I only intend on buying them all sneackers and maybe a few new pairs of jeans. I have everything else already in my basement!! Thank you garage sales!!

  • Roxanne says:

    I find the haggling recommendation in poor taste. If a person has spent the time to clean, cull, organize, advertise and set up a garage sale, and is asking $.50 for a $15 pair of jeans – it’s pretty tacky to ask for a lower price.

    But that is just me. And yes, I do frequent garage sales, I just don’t haggle.

  • Amanda says:

    As a working mother, I just don’t have the time to scour yard sales as much as I would like. Instead I have my husband on the lookout for boxes of kids clothes for sale at his engineering company’s buy, sell, trade website (also would work with craigslist). We got all of the spring/summer clothes our daughter needs this year for $50, all of the items are high quality, and it took almost no time.

  • Megan says:

    Maybe this is off the subject, but I have never bought a pair of shoes for my boys that hasn’t been torn to shreds within a few months. Any of you garage salers know what some good brands are from what you have seen at the sales? I get tons of great like-new clothes just by stopping at just a few yearly garage sales near my house, but I turn around and spend a ton of money on new shoes for them! The shoes are seriously 95% of their clothing budget. I won’t buy garage sale shoes, but any advice?

    • a happy mom says:

      Last year in preschool my son went through 4 pairs of shoes (seriously thrashed). So this year, i went to Sears when they had all their school sales for the fall. I bought a decent pair of shoes on sale and then asked for the Kidsvantage program on the shoes and his clothing that i bought there (absolutely free program). As long as the child has not outgrown the shoes/clothing but they are ragged and ruined (worn through, unglued etc), they will replace them for free. DS is on his 3rd pair of shoes for the school year (i bought the original pair for $14.99) from Sears. So with 2 weeks of school left, I have spent ~$5.00 a pair for brand new shoes. Just don’t lose the receipt as you will need to take this in to get a replacement pair of shoes if the old ones wear out before outgrown.

    • Bobbi says:

      Unfortunately, I’m finding shoes aren’t something I can do cheaply for my son. My MIL would die knowing that she gave me a good piece of advice 🙂 But, she started me on Stride -Rite shoes when my son started walking – saying how they last and are made much better. He’s now 3 1/2 and just recently I decided to pick up a few pairs of $10 shoes at Walmart for him to play in at school and another pair for home. BOTH of these pairs fell apart within a month and I was at the store buying another round of shoes!

      I went to Sride-Rite’s website (whereas I typically hit the local store) and found a pair of shoes for $20! Typically, they can be up to $40 – ?$50 so I was super excited that I’ve found a better way to shop them..and they have coupon codes too to help with shipping, etc. I got the shoes within 2 days 🙂

      I’ll look for this brand at garage sales but they have to look new in order for me to buy them. I don’t buy shoes from yard sales typically. good luck!

      • Kristy says:

        I love stride-rite too. They have an outlet store near my uncle’s house (about 3 hours from me). We go shoe shopping whenever we visit and I stock up for my daughter.

      • a happy mom says:

        I have bought Stride Rite shoes from a Stride Rite outlet about an hour from my house for the same son mentioned above. They fell apart just like the other “cheaper quality” shoes did so i was not impressed with them considering what I paid 🙁 . Some kids are just rough on their shoes regardless of the brand.

    • Dreya says:

      Love pediped… all lines…. Flex, grip n go, and originals. Not the most frugal purchase, but a nice quality shoe. Every few months, they have a “Purchases with Purpose sale” where lots of styles are on sale for 30-50% off and HALF of the purchase price is donated to charity (actually, they are having this sale right now on . I try and buy during that sale. I also prefer not to buy second hand shoes for my kiddos, but I will buy special occasion shoes or shoes to match a particular outfit secondhand. (ie, patent mary janes to match the Christmas dress.) I figure in these situations, the child who wore them first probably wore them only a few times and for short periods of time, and my kids will do the same.

  • Amber says:

    I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of my children’s clothes, and store them in labled plastic totes. My favorite way of storing shoes is in smaller labeled totes- the 12-quart and 20-quart clear Sterilite tubs work well until they hit about age 6 or so, when the shoes start getting too big, so I move up to bigger clear tubs. These stack well in each child’s closet. I miss yard sales! They are almost nonexistent in our tiny, rural town. Too bad! Clearance racks are my friend! 🙂

  • Kim J. says:

    I stockpile clothes too… from yard sales, thrift stores and retail stores. I buy summer clothes (tanks and shorts) in the fall for up to 90% off and I buy sweats and sweaters in the summer. I recently found a perfectly good hardly worn sweater for $1 and have stored it away for next winter. I do the same thing for gifts (i.e. baby, Christmas, etc.) and stockpile them in the closet. Then if I need a gift on short notice I have one.

  • Jan says:

    I did this all the time for babies and toddlers. I still can somewhat for my 2 youngest but my eldest is so hard to fit that I won’t even bother at garage sales. She has got to try on every item. She’s in between a plus and a regular and very few clothes -esp. pants- exist that fit her. I sew what I can.

    Although I do agree that sometimes the time/energy factor comes into play and clearance items at the mall costing $2-$4 are worth it to have a few nice complete outfits.

  • Amy L says:

    I try to stockpile clothes too… my problem is that my kids are now older… 13,11 and 6… it is REALLY hard to find girls clothes once they are out of the toddler sizes! I seem to have better luck at consignment stores and clearance racks… sometimes my time is just to valuable to hunt the yard sales every weekend! (not that I don’t enjoy it though!)

  • jen says:

    Just thought I’d add about consignments and resales. I do hit up yard sales when I can but it can take up a whole morning if I’m not careful! 🙂 We’ve found great success at consignment sales–sometimes items are priced more expensively but I usually find clothes between .50- $1, or a few dollars for really nice things. If you volunteer and/or sell your own, you usually get to shop the presale and snatch up the very best quality/price before the sale is public. We have 4 children and most of their clothes have come from these sales at rock bottom prices–I usually look for 1, maybe 2 sizes ahead and keep in an extra bin. We’ve also gotten books, toys and games for pennies on the dollar. I often keep things for birthdays and special gifts. Just thought I’d mention it!

  • Rachael says:

    I’ve been shopping at yard sales for quite some time, even before I had kids. I love saving money, but I also love that items are being reused. I’ve bought and sold many things that are practically new and they SHOULD be reused. I also like that I’m helping out another family by shopping at their yard sale.

  • Megan Camp says:

    My kids outgrow their clothes so quickly. I don’t want to have a yardsale every time I have a new set of clothes they no longer fit into. I’ve found that I get a great deal by bagging up a large bag of about 30-50 items (garbage bag sized) and advertising it on Craigslist for $25. I make just as much as I would at a garage sale without the hassle of having to throw a garage sale every two months. I did this with my baby boy clothes. I included all infant items and had enough to split it into two groups. I made $50 off just my sons infant clothes. I included shoes, socks, etc. I made sure items were in decent to great condition and if there were a couple of stains on some clothes I made sure to disclose that as well. When the people came to pick up the clothes, it was a great time to mention other baby items I was also selling to see if they were interested in those.

    • Beth T says:

      I ask people at good garage sales if they will sell me their kid’s next set of clothes that they outgrow and just name a price for the bag. I have a lady that said she would sell me all of her twin boy’s 3t stuff for $40 and I was happy with that! I can’t wait for her to call! So, if you find a good sale…always offer to leave your name and number for this!

  • Michelle says:

    I love the spreadsheet suggestion. We have gotten a lot of hand-me-downs and I pick items up here and there so even though she’s only 5 mo she already has clothes up to 24 mo but I couldn’t tell you what I have in what sizes. It would come in handy when the grandma’s want to pick up or make things for my daughter, too.

  • Michele says:

    Another thing we do to stockpile clothes, is host a free clothing exchange. You can do it with your neighborhood, church or any other group. Everyone brings anything they need to get rid of, everyone takes what they want, & the rest goes to charity. It’s wonderful & I get almost all our clothes this way. We’ve done it with books & toys at the same time too.
    It’s free & I only have to host once a year instead of going to garage sales every week.

  • Hope Easter says:

    This is a very neat strategy. I think I might try this the next time we go out to yard sales.
    We stock pile everything else in our house why not clothes? 🙂

  • Megan says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the broader social and environmental benefits of buying used clothing: when you buy used, you’re not (directly) contributing to poor labor conditions, child labor or industrial pollution. It’s a great solution – I love this post!

    • Jill says:

      I see your point, but for you to continue to have decent used clothing to buy, someone has to buy new. Even though you don’t do it directly, you still rely on new clothing to eventually make your way to your yard sale. I guess the only way to be truly environmental would be to live in a nudist colony :).

  • Jennifer says:

    Ha! I can totally relate to your learning how to get garage sale deals from watching your husband. We have noted, though, that if the person running the sale is a man, he’s more likely to say “yes” to my offer than my husband’s. Likewise, women are more likely to say “yes” to him than to me.

    We’ve found neighborhood sales to be worthwhile. It’s a low cost of entry for the participants, so they’re often willing to part with things for less as they otherwise probably would have just given it all away.

  • Ashlee says:

    I’m the negotiator in the family. I find the more you buy the better chances you have they will take less. Find lots of stuff you want and figure out how much total you want to spend and see if they will take that. I rarely ask for a discount on a single low priced item. My favorite thing to get at garage sales is jeans. Kids jeans are really tough and last through many many many kids, yet they are pretty expensive in stores. I pay about a $1 for good jeans at sales and they always look brand new.

  • Christi says:

    Thanks so much for the tips! We have been lucky enough to get hand-me-downs so far to clothe our boys, but the supply is running out and we’re starting to stockpile through garage sales. I LOVE the spreadsheet idea! Thank you so much for that!!!

  • Liz says:

    A couple things…

    -for organizing shoes: attach each pair together using the shoes’ laces, velcro or slip fliop flops into each other. Then place the shoes of each size into a plastic shopping bag, tie it loosely once (so you can get it undone again) and write the size on the outside with a king size sharpie (so you wont miss it later). We tend to keep a max of 2 sneakers, 2 or 3 dressy type shoe, 2 flip flop, and 2 others in each size. We dont’ have that many in most sizes. Then when you want a size, open up the boys’ shoe bin, find the right bag and you’re good. Because of the range of my 7 kids I have one bin for the older girls, one for the middle boys, and one for the little girls.

    -about how many clothes to save: I shoot for about 14 outfits per size per season (ie: winter and summer). I try to have 4 dressy type outfits and about 10 casual types. This method means My kids can make it through about two weeks without having to wear the same outfit and they only wear the same thing at church once each month. This way the clothes hold up through the whole season, too. I will also save 2 bathing suits, two hoodies, and if there’s still space in that size bin I’ll squeeze in the fun extras like ponchos, cute sweaters, something I just can’t pass on, a holiday outfit, etc. Once the bin is full and I’ve met my goal of 14, I don’t allow myself anymore clothes in that size.

  • Carla Sorensen says:

    I recently went to a yard sale for charity. Nothing was marked as far as the prices. They said to give whatever. That really made me evaluate my heart in regards to how much to spend at a yard sale. I was really tossed in offering a little, to more than I would normally pay, because it was for charity. I never want to take advantage of someone. I would rather have things priced. I did understand where they were coming from though.
    Just some thoughts.

    I enjoyed the article. Thanks!

  • Laura Johnson says:

    Church sales have been the best for me. I actually buy new items and resell on EBay for much more.

  • I have been stockpiling clothes since my first kid was born (while i only have 2 we plan on at least 2 more!) Anotehr great way i find deals is on Craiglist i find many people offering bags of clothes for $5 on up. I went and bought clothes for my son once and paid $20 for what was advertised as 2 20 gallon bags of clothes a great deal on it’s own when i got there she had 2 20 gallon trash bags, a kitchen trash bag full, and 3 diaper bozes full of shoes!! Even after going threw the clothes and taking what i would use i told other stuff to the consignment shop and MADE money there and used that credit to buy other things i needed.

    I also put the word out with friends what sizes i need i have a friend who’s son is 2 sizes above my son and she gives me the stuff her son out grows and i ahve a friend who just gave me 2 20 gallon bags of clothes for my daughter i go threw take what i want/need then eitehr donate the rest, give to some one else ot take to the consignment shop and use the money from the consignment shop to get what i can’t find at yard sales ect.

    great tips!!

  • Felicia says:

    I am excited that a few weeks ago I was able to buy nice name brand items for my youngest daughter for $0.50 each. Gymboree, Baby Gap, Old Navy, OshGosh, Nike and New Balance shoes, etc. I even bought 3 winter coats and everything was only $0.50!

  • Felicia says:

    By the way I’m excited because today I went to JCPenney and found 2 summer dresses (which my oldest daughter was needing) clearance down to less then $8 each and had a $15/15 coupon. I paid $0.15 total and saved over $75!!!

  • Carrie says:

    I stockpile for my son – usually up to 2 sizes ahead – and I save a TON!
    I do garage sales, Mom to Mom sales (some are free to get into), our church clothing swap, and craigslist.
    I usually pay less than $1 for really nice name brand clothing (Gap, Gymboree, Childrens Place, etc.) sometimes (about 1/3) the clothing still has tags attached!
    I have gotten adorable items for my son and gotten so many compliments on the way he was dressed. I usually get asked where I buy his clothes. 🙂 My usual response is to just check the tag of what he is wearing – since I used to say “garage sales” and they would get disappointed they couldn’t get the same kind of outfit.
    We have tons of garage sales in my area and the prices are usually super cheap. Even when I buy off of craigslist I buy with a price point in mind. I have even had sellers contact me!!! – when they have more items to sell to see if I want first crack at them. 🙂 How great is that!?!

    For storage of the stockpile – I use storage tubs and put the clothes, shoes, etc. in the same tub. I even stockpile diapers, although my son is 2 and potty training, so I have been stocking up on the free samples of pull ups and such as well. I just put them in the next size up and if he gets there before he needs them, I will just move them to the next tub.

    My mom shops for my son as well and keeps a tub of each size at her house as well. They live close by and it comes in handy if he is there and needs a change of clothes or a swimsuit or extra mittens, whatever – she can just pull something out for him and she is all set.

    She even stockpiles toys – a little bit. She just bought him two PowerWheel ride on toys that are still too big for him for $15. The seller told her if she bought one, she could take the second for free! That is $7.50 each for ride-ons that are over $150 each in the store!!! Plus they are in excellent condition. He has a mini one now that is is just starting to grow out of – she got that for $5 a year ago. Sometimes sellers are just really friendly and it helps to be stockpiling when you find those great deals!!!

  • Michelle says:

    Also check out Goodwill. Every week they put a color tag on sale. On the weekend you can get them for $1.00, or $.50 on Sunday. I have gotten brand new winter shirts for my child and jeans with tags still attached. Alot of people are only buying summer clothes right now, which leaves more for me to stock for the winter!

    • Andrea Q says:

      Around here, Goodwill and Salvation Army keep a separate rack of things that are brand new with tags and they price them considerably higher. That color tag never seems to be on sale.

  • Andrea Q says:

    I have shied away from selling clothes on eBay because of the fees, but it looks like you can list up to 50 things per month for free and only pay the eBay fee (9 percent), PayPal fee (3 percent + $0.30 per transaction) and shipping. If you build those fees into your price, it seems worthwhile for nicer clothing.

  • Lynette says:

    The only down side to getting second hand clothes – is how many kids can those clothes be passed on down too? With my oldest, she might be wearing brand new clearance items from Target or Wal-mart, but her sister after her….and her sister after her are both going to wear these as well! So while I may spend $20 total in clothes for her (shopping clearance sales, never more than $2.00 an item or hopefully a pair of clothes). That’s $20 worth of clothes that will easily be worn over and over again by her two younger sisters as well! Almost all of my sons clothes since he was born (he’s now 3) have been hand-me downs. But I couldn’t gurantee that they would all be passed down, again, and again! Thankfully there is just 1 of him so we’ll make by passing them on to the third child. Eventually even clothes wear out!

  • At our church we started to do an exchange table and it has been WONDERFUL!! You drop off what you want to exchange, gently used of course, and then you go shopping for what you need that you can find. All free and it has been a blessing. Thank you for all the great ideas and helping so many save money!

  • smileeys says:

    I have fun going to and having the few garage sales we have had. It would not be worth doing it to me if I didn’t. My two cents on haggling. Most people who haggle simply enjoy it and see it as part of the experience. I am not one to haggle much, but luckily I understand that people do enjoy it. That may not be everyone’s motivation, but consider may be a factor instead of rudeness. And no, I don’t think it is rude to haggle and author never suggested offering way less. She actually suggested walking away if price you have in mind in considerably different. Thanks for tips on garage sale apps!

  • Lisa Sweeney says:

    I love garage sales, and also stockpile clothes for my kids. But I find that it is very hard not to buy too much! There always seems to be one more adorable dress that my daughter *needs*! LOL In the long run though, if I paid $0.50 for it at a garage sale and my kids don’t end up wearing it, I can usually sell it for $0.50 at my own garage sale so it doesn’t really end up costing me anything (besides the storage space in my garage, which I don’t mind anyway).
    When I was pregnant with my second child, I hit one garage sale with a TON of newborn, 0-3 month, and 3-6 month baby girl clothes for $0.25 each. I think I bought about $20 worth and thought I had my daughter pretty much covered for the first few months! Then she was born at 9lb 7oz, skipped newborn size entirely and only wore 0-3 months until about 6 weeks old. My early stockpile for her was totally wrong season-wise – she was in 6-9 months by 3 months old and the cute Christmas outfits I had picked up for her were WAY too small by Christmas. BUT I was able to resell most of what I had bought for almost the same price so I didn’t lose out much.
    Last weekend, I hit one garage sale where the lady had all of her girls clothes for $1… I thought it was kind of high until I saw the entire WALL with brand-new-with-tags clothes! I ended up buying 9 NEW outfits plus 4-5 other like-new outfits, and the lady said $10 for all of it. Such a steal! Now just crossing my fingers that my daughter can wear a 3T in the summertime eventually!

  • Valerie says:

    Great article!! I am a HUGE yard sale shopper. It is good to keep in mind that some areas have different pricing. $.25 in one area might be more in another. Even if you get quality items for $.50 – $1.00 an item it is still a GREAT deal! Goodwill sells childrens clothes for $2.00 and Once Upon A Child for $2.00-$10.00. $.25 is great, but I wouldn’t walk away from great clothes just because it’s not $.25 – $.50. Also, it is good to keep in mind that kindness is the key. I have done many yard sales myself and have come in contact with rude bargain hunters. It makes for a bad day and people will less likely give deals.

  • Anon. says:

    Wow, those are some low prices for clothing! Where I live (a suburb near Chicago), the items seem to be priced a bit more. I have noticed that brands that were frequently mentioned in the comments are Gymboree and The Gap. These are considered normal/low end labels where I live, and usually are priced .25-2.00 dollars. I often see Uggs, The North Face, Coach, Juicy Couture, etc., and I have no problem paying more money for these brands. For example, I paid $15 for a pair of new Coach shoes, which retail for $150-200, and I thought that was a spectacular deal! They last long, and are so comfortable.

  • Blaire Ruch says:

    I thought I was the only one who did spreadsheets like this! Glad to know I’m not the only one. It is so helpful for me, because there is no way I could remember what I already have for each of my three children.
    It is also very helpful when I am borrowing clothes from friends. I just add a column and fill in the friends’ name next to the item, so I will remember who to return it to. Likewise, when I lend clothes out, I write the friend’s name in the new column, and leave a copy in the bag for my friend, so she can have an easy way to know which clothes she borrowed.

    I have a column marked article (top, pants, etc.), brand, description and size (some are XS, some are 5). One page for each size.

    I do try to get classic clothes that will not go out of style. This is much easier to do for boys than girls. I have been buying ahead little by little over the past 5 years, and at the moment have a complete wardrobe for my 3 year old son for every season until he starts wearing size 6. But I have a few years to shop for that size 😉

    My target price is $1 per item.

    My kids are messy, and I only want to do clothes once a week, so I aim for 14 tops and 14 bottoms. 4 dresses, 2 swimsuits. 7 pajamas. They eat breakfast in them and always get food on them.

  • Natalie says:

    Any tips on getting deals on plastic storage bins??? 🙂 My kids clothes are currently stored in a messy stack of cardboard boxes. Yuck.

  • DeleneHamilton says:

    Il. I need someone to help me have a yard sale in side as soon as we can ok thanks

  • Leah C says:

    Though I grew up shopping at garage sales, last summer was my first year shopping for my daughter. I made a spreadsheet, and had a printed list of what she still needed in each size that I took with me everywhere. I got some really weird looks for being so organized, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one! I was able to get almost everything she needed for the next year for 25-50 cents an item!
    It just doesn’t make sense to purchase new clothes for someone who will go through four entire wardrobes in a year!
    Now I’m prepping for our second summer, but I’m having a little more trouble figuring out what sizes to buy for the next year (she’s currently 15 months old and wearing size 12 months clothing).

    Thanks for the post!

    P.S. My favorite garage sale this past summer was the one of two families with little girls – the moms had left the dads in charge, and I got a TON of clothing for 25-cents each! And they threw in a sunhat. 🙂

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *