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Reader Tip: “Stockpiling” clothing saves us money and effort

Kristin emailed in the following tip:

With six children (and another on the way!) the cost of new clothing and shoes can really add up! I think ahead to what sizes/seasons of clothing and shoes will be needed within the next year, then scour yard sales and thrift stores for what we need. Out of season/size clothing is stored in labeled totes until they are needed.

I normally pay about $1-3 per pair of shoes, $2-3 for a pair of brand name jeans, $1-2 for dresses and $1 or less per pair of pajamas.

Recently our oldest son had a growth spurt and needed new pants. Instead of having to run out and purchase a new pair, I simply pulled
out a tote and unpacked his pants in the next size up. -Kristin

photo credit

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138 Comments

  • Lisa says:

    I purchase end of season clearance clothing in bigger sizes and get brand new items for dirt cheap. That’s how my son is clothed and it is nice to have non-worn items versus used.

    • Kayte says:

      It seems I can usually get things cheaper on clearance at the end of the season new than I can used. I routinely pay $2 or less for shirts and $5 or less for jeans/pants/dresses. Plus, I know they’re stain free. Well, until my kiddo’s wear them at least!

      • Sarah says:

        Agreed. The consignment stores around here charge $3.99 for a very used pair of toddler pants. I can get them on clearance at Kohls or Target for $1-3 per pair brand new. I can go just a couple times a year, stock up, and not worry about scouring yard sales (which around here charge insane prices anyway).

      • Theresa says:

        I agree with you. I end up holding out until the end of the season or until the store takes markdowns on their first round of the season. I then add a coupon on top of it and end up getting clothes for a few dollars. Children’s Place is a great example of this – you can always find a 15% off coupon and then wait until the clothes are an additional 40% off. Great savings.

    • Rachel says:

      Ditto! The consignment stores in our area are more expensive than buying off of the end-of-the-season clearance racks. We have two boys…the new clothing that our oldest wore is now play clothes for #2 and I only have to buy just a few things for him to round out his clothes, partially because he’s a slightly different size.

      I always look through what I have for the next year’s size before I buy ahead, making a list of what I have to buy and keeping it in my purse/diaper bag when I go shopping. Then if I find a good deal, I can see if I need it or not!

    • Caitlin says:

      I agree. I get my son’s clothes at Children’s Place, Old Navy, Crazy 8, Baby Gap, and Gymboree at the end of the season and am able to score shorts for less than $2 and shirts for around the same. I can usually consign it or list it in lots on eBay for what I paid for it, so I feel like it’s totally worth it.

      • I agree! The Children’s Place is a great place for good deals! I go to a outlet store and at the end of a season they have a $.99 sale and I get a whole wardrobe paying only $1/item. I love getting brand new cute clothes cheaper than used!

      • Elizabeth says:

        We used to do that at Children’s Place too. The last couple of times I went, they haven’t had any of the really good 1.99 or 2.99 deals. I asked the sales clerk there why, and she said that they have a new CEO and they aren’t doing the rock bottom pricing any more. Boo!!!!!

    • ChrisKH says:

      I buy super cheap clearance stuff at the end of the season too. I live in Florida so there are always plenty of sizes in the cool weather clothes. It is perfect to buy for gifts to send for friends that live in cooler parts of the country!

    • DeAnna says:

      Gymboree has all winter items for $6.99 or less right now!

  • Jessica says:

    I have 3 young girls and I also buy ahead for my oldest by a size. I don’t go much longer than that as styles can change, but I have saved so much money doing this- and then of course I am able to pass the clothing down to the other 2! I currently have most of her winter wardrobe- including a coat- bought on clearance last year, and am starting next summer’s wardrobe as well.

    • Meredith says:

      ditto (but for boys) 😉

    • shannon says:

      As a mom-of-many I’ll add a caveat to this discussion. Anything with elastic – especially in pants – can only be reliably stored for two or three years. I religiously stored hand-me-downs for my children in bins in the basement, even several new outfits that were out-grown before they were worn, and in the three year gap between my boys almost all the elastic got funky. Despite all my cautions to save these items, they were ruined. I would have been better just to pass them on to others so that they wouldn’t have been wasted.

      • Stephanie says:

        That’s the main reason why I sell/pass on the 9 year old’s stuff. By the time the 2.5 year old can use it, the elastic will be dead and styles will have changed.
        I had a bathing suit worn once by the now 2.5 year old, stored carefully (for 18 months) for the baby and the elastic is ruined.

        • Betsy says:

          Do you think it depends on where it’s stored? I store clothing in tubs in closets in the house, and I’ve never had this happen between my kids. There are 2 years between all my boys, and the third is wearing all the same stuff the 1st and 2nd did, with no problems, elastic or otherwise.

  • Tara says:

    Ditto here! My son is 14 months old but I am up to buying 3 and 4T now!! I don’t know what I’d do otherwise!

  • Monica says:

    Where do you shop at?

  • Samantha says:

    Yep yep!! I love when Old Navy has an extra 50% off their clearance too. We’ve been stockpiling clothing since I was expecting. My son is now 2 and we have clothes here and there all the way up to 5T. I got his next year winter coat for about $4, brand new but on super clearance at Old Navy! We’ve been able to stock up on tshirts for $1.50 or less (lots of baby stuff we got under $1).

    I’ve also got totes full of clothes that he’s already grown out of. Just waiting for #2!

  • I do the same, have been for years, when I got to the consignment shops/sales. I am hitting the stuff for the next year or so. I am also grateful for friends that share HMDs, and I share the love. I keep only what I LOVE and is special to me, and share around.

  • I do this too. It sure helps!

    I also have kind of an arrangement with my cousin. She has twin girl toddlers and then a baby boy. I have a toddler boy and a baby girl. So we trade hand me downs (I only keep what I really love for future children since I have been able to get everything so easily).

    • Sue says:

      I do the same thing.. I was disapointed when my sister was pregnant and we were still trying. I know the lord above knows better than me cause my daughter showed up 3 years behind her girl cousin. With my sister who loves to shop.. I only really have to buy under wear and shoes.. sometimes not even shoes. My niece has very expensive taste and my sister does not know how to say no.. lol Lucky for us!
      Most of the clothes have hardly even been worn.

      Sue in NJ

  • Jennifer says:

    I used to be really good about this, but after I had a second baby and we moved (resulting in my not having a car and not knowing where anything was for over 6 months) I got behind. I am catching up now and have fall/winter clothes ready (bought new on clearance) for my oldest son and have just unpacked the next size my younger son will need to see if there are any holes to be filled. Even if you prefer to buy new, you can save a lot of money buying ahead, so when this summer’s clothes hit the clearance racks, buy stuff for next summer/spring. I recently got a bunch of fleece pants for winter at Walmart for $1 each!

  • krysti says:

    i do the exact same thing!

  • Sherri says:

    I do the same thing and just stash it in a tote until the upcoming season or size. My son is 3 and I always buy ahead of season at yard sales. It’s silly to pay $10-$15 for something I can buy for .50 or $1.00 at a yard sale. And half the time it’s just going to get worn out from play anyway. The best is finding stuff with tags on it for $1.00 or $1.50. I can’t remember the last time I bought him something brand new except for maybe shoes (kids are hard on shoes).

  • Anna says:

    The stuff on clearance racks can also get pretty low. I saw some really great deals for baby stuff at Walmart last time I went. I just hope I find out the sex of our next baby before everything’s sold out! 🙂

    • emily says:

      That stuff disappears fast. I recently had a baby in January and last summer, before we found out she was a girl, Walmart had a ton of summer things on clearance. I opted to wait until the next week to purchase, because we were finding out the sex that week, and when I returned EVERYTHING was gone. I guess it was because all of it was marked down to $1 an outfit, so I should have just bought multiples in both sexes and took back what I didn’t need.

      • Anna says:

        Ooh, hadn’t thought of buying and then returning. I find out the first week of July. I really should have done that cause snow suits are so expensive but some were down to $3 on clearance!

        I keep wanting to buy ahead for my 9 month old, but she’s been growing so fast, I really don’t know what size she’ll be in next year. 🙂

  • Honey says:

    I have 5 children ages 10, 8,8, 7, & 7. We do the same thing. I buy thrift store, garage sale, new clearance, and occasionally consignment items. And the things that get very worn we hand-me-down. But the nice things I consign to get money for the next season’s clothing. Sometimes I even make money on the deal if it is a very high end name-brand. It’s a cool way to recycle their wardrobe and saves me a ton of money!

  • Sarah says:

    I thought everyone did this already, haha.

  • We do this also. I scour clearance bins….especially at outlet stores! Unfortunately, my oldest is starting to develop her own sense of style, and some of the “adorable” outfits I bought last year that are now starting to fit, just aren’t cool enough. I think this would work better with boys than girls 🙂

    • Sherri says:

      Depends on the kid- each of mine managed to have their own picky area.

      That’s what I love about buying at yard sales- when DD decided she didn’t like much of what I pulled out the bin for her, I wasn’t crushed, since I had paid a quarter per item.

    • Honey says:

      Frugal momma-Haha! Nope, my 10 year old BOY has a fashion sense and only likes certain things now. SO I take him to the thrift store and let him hunt down his own things.

    • Andrea Q says:

      All four of my kids have developed their own sense of style (or comfort preferences) between 18 & 24 months of age. I still buy basics ahead…plain t-shirts, leggings, socks, underwear, solid color rash guards, sometimes plain jeans and sweatshirts.

  • Yes, BUYING KID THINGS AT YARD SALES WILL SAVE YOU TONS OF MONEY!! I’m talking Gymboree, Janie and Jack, high quality toys and shoes. I have a whole blog dedicated to this! And then, when you’re through, sell them on ebay and make a profit!! Your kids wear the clothes and you sell them for more than you paid. Now that’s something for the savings accounts, or the BEST way to clothe your kids!

    • sarah says:

      I also buy nice name brand kids clothes at yard sales and off clearance racks…. however, there is NO WAY I would be able to sell my kids clothes after they are finished wearing them.

      My kids wear their clothes out. Maybe it’s just my boys though?

      • Dani says:

        Both my toddlers wear their clothes out!!!! Especially my son! Some of my daughter’s can be sold!

      • Kadee says:

        I have 3 boys, 8,6, &4. It is hard to hand down pants from one to the next – I can only patch knee holes so many times! If something does make it through the 3rd child, it is totally worn out, stained, etc. and no way could I sell it! I don’t even like giving them away because I’m sure no one would want them 😉

    • Blythe says:

      I do the same thing! Good clothes for cheap and you make a profit!

  • Kristen says:

    We do this also but we usually hit up the Monster sale at the Children’s Place outlet which is twice a year at the end of each clothing season. This has REALLY helped keep down the cost of clothes for us as well. Their sales usually price items from $1-$3 each and all of them mix and match pretty well thru out the seasons.

  • AnneJ says:

    I have 2 sons, 3yo and 3mth old and also do this. I gradually bought big Rubbermaid bins and limit my “stash” to one bin per size. I label each bin, and stack them in our shed. It’s organized, easy to access, and saves a lot of money! I’m blessed to get some hand me downs from my 10yo brother, and fill in the gaps with garage sales or other hand me downs from friends. It’s a huge way to save money!

  • Suzanne H says:

    I love buying from Kohls b/c you can return it at anytime – if you buy too much of they skip a size – doesn’t matter. My oldest skipped a shoe size this time and I was able to return sneakers I had picked up on clearance w/a coupon. Love their generous coupons and return policy. I have found that most of the time, I come out better buying new and selling to consignment store than buying used but I do both certainly.

    • Sarah says:

      Also a huge fan of Kohls, their coupons and Kohls cash deals are amazing. A couple times a year they send us a $5 off $5 coupon, and I use it to buy a pair of clearance pants AND shirt for our son in the next size up. Nothing like an outfit for absolutely FREE!

    • PJ says:

      You can also usually get a Kohl’s gift card for 15% off at gift card re-sale sites like http://www.plasticjungle.com/ – there are gift cards for lots stores but the really popular ones like Target or Old Navy are usually only 3% off.

  • ann says:

    I stockpile clothes all the time. We shop one year for clothes and the other year, we don’t look at any clothing sales. Saves us money, time and effort. But that works for us because we are fine with classic styles. If one goes by whats in fashion, or the latest trend, this concept may not work completely.

  • Vanessa says:

    I found eight like-new shirts at a yard sale last year for $.25 each. They were size 6,7,8 and my son is only 4 so they are in his closet waiting for him to grow into them. Now I am just hoping they won’t be out of style by the time he is big enough to wear them. 🙂

    • kerry D. says:

      I don’t think you should worry too much about whether the clothes are out of style, for young children… They’re probably basic enough for it not to matter…

      Stockpiling basics, things that aren’t trendy, like jeans, khaki, plaid shirts, solid t-s… versus unusual fabrics or characters will help if you want to be sure they don’t look odd.

      And he will grow REALLY fast. 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    I do the same thing. It is a wonderful thing to pull out each size’s tote at the beginning of a season and know you’ll be set. Although I get things at steep discount, I do have to admit that my price targets are quite a bit higher than Kristin’s!

  • Holli Litrenta says:

    I do the same thing! My 18 month has bins of clothes stored in her closet that are full of clothes all too big! I buy all my pjs at garage sales! I also purchase from a local consignment store when they have a color of the month & those tagged items are all 50% off as well as some items that are marked 75% off. The new clothing that I do buy comes off the clearance rack when 50% or higher (preferably 75%). If there is something that we really need then I put it on the christmas/birthday wish list. I also buy in the off season, so we already have winter jackets for next winter and I paid very little for them.

  • Andrea says:

    I buy at yard sales all the time. On several occasions I have found name brand items for less than $1 each! I definitely agree that consignment stores can be overpriced unless they are having a sale. I have boys so the styles don’t change as much for them as girls would. I have 3 boys so even if my oldest doesn’t get much wear out of an item it can be passed down! Plus I don’t get so stressed out when they stain or tear their clothing. Which is a big plus for me!

  • Laura says:

    Mary, I’m with you. I always stockpile (mostly Target 75% off clearance and online sales), but I don’t keep a detailed enough list of what we need and often end up with gaps in my kids’ wardrobes when they move up a size. It’s a bit of work to make everything fit in our townhouse, but I’ve gotten pretty creative with storage.

    • naomi says:

      Would you mind sharing some of your creative storage ideas? I live in a small house and that is my biggest problem with buying ahead. Thanks!

  • Sarah says:

    Great post! This is something I have done as well. I keep diaper boxes with tags on the front with the next couple of sizes in the top of the closet so that they’re available when needed. And when you spend .25/item at a yard sale, you don’t feel bad picking it up, knowing you can get rid of it if you find something else you like better later. But at least you have it now in case you need it before you find that something else. My bargain this year- yard sale with .25 clothing items- dresses included, and .10 shoes- some never or barely worn. They’re a few sizes too big, but shoes are soooo expensive when you need them NOW and have to buy whatever is available. So I spent a buck and got 10 pair. With 3 girls, someone will wear each of them, I’m sure.

    My motto: never pay retail. 🙂

    • Sherri says:

      Awesome deal on the shoes!

      I hit paydirt at yard sales last weekend- got DD’s fall/winter wardrobe for less than $4! Found shirts in a rainbow of colors for a quarter, jeans for a quarter, and some nice t-shirts for a quarter. Even though 2 of the jeans didn’t fit, it was no big deal- I can sell them for $5 at the next consignment sale. I found a pair of jeans for me, too- for a quarter!

  • Aberline says:

    If you have a Beall’s or Burke’s Outlet, they have a clearance system where each item rotates into clearance with a sticker corresponding to the month. Then each month it moves to the higher percentage tier off, until finally it is 95% off. I’ve consistently gotten shirts for 10 cents and stuff like that. You can also get an additional 15% off all items in the store on Fridays.

    The sales usually change on the first day of the month.

  • Krystal says:

    I always wondered how to stay organized and asked my friend who is a mom of 6 (ages 16-2) how she does it. To keep from getting overwhelmed and over run with clothing she uses the method from the “Tightwad Gazette.” It amounts to a running list of items (spread sheets are great for this!), with sizes and colors. She also tries to keep a list of the next couple seasons for each child with her written on a notecard so when she goes to garage sales, thrift stores, does clothing swaps, or hits clearance aisle she doesn’t duplicate anything (or spend extra money!!). This is extremely helpful if you have a girl, where only certain things will match each other.

    Something else I have learned is to evaluate how much you really need. Since we do laundry every 3-4 days I try not to have more than 6-7 outfits- and that keeps me from letting the laundry pile up (I loathe doing laundry!). Since we actually get almost all of our clothing from our kids for free- presents and HMDs. Since we are so blessed we always give it away when we are done with it or are not using it. My kids also love to see their favorites on other kids we’ve passed them to!

  • Teri Capshaw says:

    I like to buy nice items at a local high end children’s consignment shop. You can’t beat $0.75 for a name brand item!

    Also, on the organizing side of things, I created a google doc spreadsheet when I was expecting my daughter. I listed everything we needed (including sizes) and marked down what we already had. I shared that with my mother-in-law who collected hand me downs from family members and shopped clearance sales.

  • Leanne says:

    I, too, buy ahead and “stockpile”. Lately, I’ve been more “selective” in my choices. My boys go to a Christian School with a fairly strict dress code, so I tend to buy things they can wear to school and will look decent wash after wash. Play clothes get passed down as the three boys grow out of things.
    This year, our school is planning its 1st clothing exchange. Parents will bring outgrown- school appropriate clothing and spirit wear to “swap”. We are so excited about this project that will help keep clothing needs more “affordable” for parents who already sacrafice quite a bit to send their children to the school!
    Great Post!

  • We stockpile clothing from yard sales up to a couple years ahead of time. Our target price is $.25 per item and $1 a pair for shoes. We buy only classic styles so they will still be in style by the time our kids are in that size. Many of their clothes and shoes are brand new and never worn. I love being able to go up to the attic when they have a growth spurt instead of making an emergency trip to Walmart!

  • Donna says:

    I was able to do this until my children started having opinions about what they wanted to wear…We still shop clearance, but it just sits in the closet if I don’t let them pick it out…

    • Jennifer says:

      Same here. Thank goodness we only have 2! My daughter is good at picking out clothes off the clearance rack though, I taught her well. Goodwill or garage sales, no way, but I would never, ever wear used clothes either!

      • Heather says:

        I think this is so funny since after one wash all clothes are used! I have a friend like this and I just giggle when she scoff at used clothes. And then I say a prayer of thanks that I am okay with it because I can cloth my entire family for very, very little money which is just one more reason we can afford to keep me home.

  • Sherri says:

    I have plastic bins in our basement, one bin per size. Each one is labeled, so that I can find what I need more easily. As I acquire clothing throughout the summer at yard sales, I dump them all on a table downstairs. Then a couple of times a year I sort through them and add them to the appropriate box. While I’m doing that, I take note of what is in the box for the next size up so that I can be aware of what is needed. I still may end up with some gaps, but having to go out and buy 1-2 pieces (and I’ll try consignment first) sure beats buying a full wardrobe each season.

  • Dee Wolters says:

    I did this very consistantly when my 4 were little, but it is much harder to do with teens. I miss the days when clothes were a bit short or snug and I could just pull a box from their closet with the whole next size wardrobe. At least it worked for many years. Now my teens know the value of shopping with sales and coupons. Often my 16 yr old daughter will print a coupon for Old Navy or where ever she is interested in shopping and let me know they are having a sale.

    • Lynn says:

      I totally agree. This method works like a charm for the “littles” but it sure changes with tweens and teens. I’m just thankful I could save the money with this method when I could!

      • Janet says:

        When the get to be teens I personally set a budget say like $100 for before school starts and maybe another $100 for the spring / summer.
        Then I made a list
        5 shirts
        3 pants
        socks
        underware
        1 jacket/coat
        1 dress outfit

        All had to be Mom approved ( I had mostly girls)

        I made the deal shop with coupons/ some good quality used and when your out add your own hard earned money or let Mom shop for you. Never had any arguments.

        They all choose various methods but we never argued over it.

      • Sherri says:

        My almost 14-year-olds (twins) have no problem with this method. I have boxes of hand-me-downs from an older cousin that DS wears. Usually there are enough choices in each size that he finds something he likes. Neither one is terribly picky, but I pretty much know what they will like and what they won’t. I just bought DD 6 shirts and 3 jeans at yard sales last Sat- only 1 shirt she didn’t like, and 2 jeans didn’t fit. Maybe this will change when they start public school in the fall and suddenly it will matter *what* people wear, but for now I shall count my blessings that I can clothe my whole family for practically nothing.

  • AJ says:

    I do this all the time – got the next two sizes of winter coats for my daughter at $1 each, a couple nicer sweaters for my son for 75 cents each and a few pairs of excellent condition dress shoes for $2 each. All at garage sales – the consignment store here in town is overpriced and usually stuffed full of adult with a really poor selection of kids clothes. I’m going through my stash this week and seeing what I have for the next full year so I can keep an eye out for any gaps at the sales.

  • Jen says:

    This is a great idea. I am new to all this. My daughter is 23 months old and right now wears 24 month in clothing. If I want to stock up for next summer would I get size 3T??? Do they start the summer clearance after the 4th of July? Any opinions are greatly appreciated.

    • Yes, you can get a 3t and a 4t as well (for the year after). I keep one box for each size (the 12 gallon clear boxes). I tape an index card with the size on each box. I have one box for each size (I have girls and boys, so I have Girls 3T, Boys 3T, etc.)

      We have been blessed to get hand-me-downs from others as well. I just put them in the boxes for the right size (for the bigger sizes).

      I also have two totes for shoes; one for boys and one for girls.

      I make a list each year for what I need for each child. I have been very blessed to have a personal garage sale shopper! She is an older woman whose children are grown, and she goes garage sale shopping for me for a few months each summer. She loves going, and she offered to take a list for me, so I make her one. She mostly buys for my boys, but occasionally finds things for my girls, such as sweaters. (I make dresses for my girls, but I have bought a few as well, and we have a few hand-me-down dresses from friends, too).

    • It’s hard to tell, since you don’t know how quickly they are going to grow. My oldest went from 18 mos right into 3T…at not-quite-3, she is already in 4/5. I would err on the side of bigger than smaller.

    • Jill says:

      I can’t help you with the dates of the summer clearance. I think it varies store to store (and state to state I’m guessing?). My local Once Upon a Child does a clearance 2x/year…their summer clearance I believe is at the end of July, and all clearance clothing is $1/ea.

      Each child is different, but if your daughter is currently spot-on with her age/clothing size, I would go ahead & chance that she’ll continue with that trend. I think 3T is a good choice for next summer. Keep in mind though that length doesn’t matter as much in the summer as in the winter. So if she’s a really skinny child, she may need 2T shorts, etc. My daughter is pretty skinny, she’ll be 3 in July, and 3T shorts just fall right off her. She can pretty much fit into everything else 3T though (well, besides pants).

      • Jen says:

        Thanks for the advice. My daughter is pretty small on bottom so I like the idea of getting 2T shorts. Does Once Upon a Child have a good selection of clothing?

  • Anitra says:

    I do this to a certain extent, but I’ve learned that my children (preschool girl and infant boy) grow in spurts. Stocking up on seasonal clothing (swimsuits, anything sleeveless, coats, snowsuits) more than a month or two ahead is a pretty good way to guarantee it will be either too big or too small when the right season comes around. For example, at the end of last summer, my daughter was wearing mostly 2T and some 18m, and we thought that 3T would be right for this summer. A few items I saw in 4T and bought them because we couldn’t find similar items in 3T. Joke is on me – she had a growth spurt this spring and most 3T is too short, she needs 4T instead.

    However, my girl likes lots of boyish stuff (dogs, cars, trains, etc), so with certain items I can get things that she will like that my son will be able to wear later.

  • Annie says:

    I do something similar, just in the stores rather than garage sales. I have found really good deals on the after Easter clearance racks. I was able to get two suits (vest, tie, shirt, and slacks) for $4.50 each, one for each of the next two sizes up. A couple of weeks ago at Target, I snagged three really cute three piece sets (sweater vest, long sleeve dress shirt, and khakis or dress jeans) for $6 each. Now he’ll have some cute outfits to wear this winter through next spring.

  • Marie says:

    I have been doing this since my twins were born. I have found that if I shop The Children’s Place monster sales and outlet, 2 min. from my house, I can pay under $2 for NEW clothes. I have a 10% off on my TPC card plus I always use an additional %off coupon. I love it. I always shop the end of season clearance at Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart. I usually don’t pay more then $5 for new kids shoes by doing this. I keep bins in the kids closets of the clothes for the next size/season. One way I keep track of things is I right down what I have so if I’m out and about i know what size and article of clothing I may need in case I happen upon a deal. I have literally saved thousands of dollars doing this and my children have nice clothes. And when they are done I sell them and make money to buy whatever they need next. This has really stretched our clothing budget since it’s only $50 a month for a family of 5. That’s 50 total not per person.

    • I love Children’s Place clearance! We have been impressed with how much you can get for so little $!

    • Michelle says:

      I didn’t know that Children’s Place had outlets or such good sales. I just found an outlet near me…not close, but close enough to go to once or twice a year. How do you know when they are having a “monster sale?” Also, is there a way to know when stores like Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart will be having end of season clearance?

      I’m having a hard time judging what size my daughter will be in…bought her a swimsuit at the end of the season at Kohl’s last year, just tried it on yesterday and she said it is too tight. What can I do with it?

  • Dani says:

    I also shop the clearance at The Chidlren’s Place!!! I love it!! Not too mention when you resale clothes most people want name brand clothes! (at least at my garage sales!) I buy tons of clothes from there for around $2 to $3 an item. Then after 6 months to one year use, I sale at garage sale for $1 if still in good condition (no stains) if its got a few small stains that aren’t noticeable I will donate them and if its stained up I just pitch it. Not that big of a deal since it was probably $2 and got a year’s use out of it!!!

  • Jessica says:

    I do this too!

    With my husband now being a student and us living off savings/GI bill for the next 3 years we have all our money budgeted out very carefully and I have an envelope with cash for the boys clothes that needs to last through the next few years – it is slightly intimidating to have $x cash in hand and know that it needs to last for a few years, but God has consistently proven to be faithful and has so abundantly provided for all of our needs.

  • Sally says:

    This tip isn’t just for families with growing children, it works for adults too! I keep a stockpile of socks and underwear for each of the three of us (two adults one older teen) as well as pantyhose for myself, jeans, flannel shirts and sneekers for my husband. I keep flip-flops for my daughter when I can get them for pennies at the end of the season. I also get slippers for myself.

    When I have a coupon for a free dollar amount and I really don’t need anything, I’ll just pick up socks for one of us.

    • Suzanne H says:

      Yes, definitely! I stock up on underwear, socks, shoes and clothes when they are on sale and I have a coupon – esp. when I can catch clearance and have a 30% off at Kohls. I get some great deals that way. I also buy when there are coupon codes for % off and free shipping online – always scour the clearance sections. I get some great, in style clothes for my son that is old enough to care about fashion now. His friends won’t know that his Aeropostale jeans cost me $10 vs. $40! My husband and sons have come to expect new underwear and socks for Xmas. My son also gets school clothes for his birthday which is just before school starts (yes, he gets other things too). My only problem is storage space as I sometimes have these things for many months ahead of time!!!

    • Andrea Q says:

      I totally agree! I have a tote for adult clothes…plain t-shirts, socks, boxer shorts and sometimes dress shirts for DH or jeans. The vast majority of my pants/shorts are purchased from the end-of-season clearance racks.

  • amber says:

    I do this with my daughters, 3 and 6. I keep up boxed up with the sizes wrote on the outside of the box. We store them in the garage.

  • Jessica says:

    For those of you who do it for adults, do you have certain stores/ certain weeks of the year when you check? I really hate shopping, so I’m not likely to just notice a sale.

    • Adriana says:

      I like Kohl’s. They generally have a rack of clothes for 80% off, and they’re very generous with coupons and discounts.

      Old Navy usually has good sales, and they put their clearance an 50% off pretty often. I just picked up a long-sleeved women’s dress shirt for 48 cents. You can’t beat that price! Some of their clothes are lower quality, so be careful what you buy.

      The Gap is also good. I’ve picked up jeans for under $5, tanks for $0.98, short sleeved shirts for $2-$3. And even though they are from the same company from Old Navy, their clothes are better quality.

      I have an Ann Taylor Outlet and Loft Outlet near me that are pretty good too. They put their clearance an extra 40% off, so I’ve bought cardigans for $8, jackets for $12, and other nice dress clothes for cheap.

      Oh, and Target. I’ve found some good deals at Target. Jeans for $5, shirts for $2-3, cheap scarves and other accessories. Plus, they occasionally release coupons for clothes that can be used on clearance items.

      I also suggest Charlotte Russe. It’s a bit young, teen to twenties, and some of the hemlines can be short, but they have trendy clothes for cheap, have great sales and great clearance items. Plus they carry lots of clothes such as pretty blouses and blazers that can be used as business wear.

      It requires some patience and a lot of luck. If you can help it, the best time to go is during a weekday when most people are at school or work, preferably in the morning.

  • Sonjia says:

    I’m all for saving money, but buying used shoes is nasty. No thanks.

    • I totally agree. I don’t even save shoes from one child to give to another child (unless they have only been worn once or twice). Along with thinking that buying second hand shoes is gross I also think that it can’t be good for kids’ feet. I would rather cough up some extra money to buy new high quality shoes for my kids but that’s just me…

      • Sonjia says:

        I second that. I never buy my daughter cheap shoes- I’d rather scrimp (if need be) in another area that month.

      • Kristin says:

        Wow, I’m surprised to hear such strong comments about used shoes (nasty, gross, not good for kids’ feet). I can’t even imagine what I would have to spend on shoes for all six of my kids if I didn’t believe in hand-me-downs. They all have a pair of nice tennis shoes, play/river shoes, crocs or sandals, and dress shoes… if not more (especially the girls). There’s no way we could afford all new ~ they seem to grow like weeds, and *someone* or other needs a bigger size almost every month!

        I’m not the Kristin who wrote this article, by the way, although every single word she said is exactly like me… except for the expecting another baby part!

        If you wash the tennis shoes in the washing machine, I don’t see what’s gross about passing them down. All six of my kids have worn hand-me-downs for years (my hubby & I have had lots of used shoes too), and nobody has gotten any disgusting fungus or had their toes fall off! LOL

        • Andrea Q says:

          Heavily worn shoes can damage your feet.

        • Rosie says:

          new shoes mold to the feet that wear them depending on the individual feet and how the wearer walks, which is particularly important for little feet. I try to avoid hand-me-down shoes, but I buy when Target had shoes 75% off (typically in January/February and August/September). I find shoes for under $5 a pair this way, and try to buy a few sizes up when I can… but I don’t make the gamble on sandals or snowboots, since I’m bound to guess wrong. 🙂 I do, however, not have a problem handing gently used shoes down to the next kiddo. But the shoes that DD wears all the time, usually sockless, and REEK (in spite of at least 2 trips through the washing machine)… no way. Cute as they are, those are going in the dumpster when she out grows them.

    • Jennifer says:

      My sister-in-law brought her son’s used swim trunks to my garage sale and someone bought them. I couldn’t believe it.

    • Jill says:

      To each their own. I love buying used shoes in excellent condition for super cheap, but I totally understand other people’s squeamishes.

      • corie says:

        i have 4 kids. boy the oldest and 3 girls. im always keeping an eye out for clearence shoes. i just got my 2 older girls sneakers for 5$ a pair. i put them aside for next school year. they will most likely wear flip flos all summer long. and i picked up a bunch at the childrens place for 2$ a pair. if the shoes are still in good shape they get passed down to the next sibling but i dont buy or take used shoes unless i know the people. it may be a little snobby but thats just the way i feel. i always sho clearence but i could care less what brand they are. “if the shoe fits?” lol

    • Emily says:

      Wearing used shoes is generally not a good idea. Shoes mold to one’s feet and body, so shoes that fit one person won’t fit the next person correctly. That can lead to health problems (alignment, arch problems, etc.). My husband had flat feet as a child, so we definitely will be purchasing high-quality shoes for our children and keeping an eye on that situation.

      I definitely draw the line at used shoes as well – I won’t even donate my used shoes because I don’t feel that it’s healthy for someone else to wear them. Used clothes are one thing (and I’m all for those!) – shoes are totally different!

    • Amy says:

      LOL! My biggest savings triumph this year has to be the Sears Kids Club–or whatever they call it. I got my son a brand new pair of tennis shoes for FREE after he wore out a 3-month old pair. If you are in their club, which is free, they will replace kids shoes that are the same size; just keep your receipt! My son’s feet grow slowly, so this works great for us!

  • April says:

    I do this, too! I’ve been buying end of season clearance in his future sizes since he was born. My latest find is a 3T winter coat from Gymboree that was orginally $60 and I got it for $6. The consignment stores around here charge only about 30% off the new item’s price and it’s used!! I’ve only gotten one thing from a used place and it was free because they sent me a coupon.

  • ange says:

    I thought everyone did this. 🙂 and yes, depending on the garage sale sometimes new/store end of season prices are better. There’s nothing like finding a great garage sale though! it seems to be easier to stockpile clothes than food. I fear the day when my boys actually have a preference of what they wear.

    • Janet says:

      Again, when they are old enough to have major preferences then they are old enough to get some $ skin in the game!

    • Andrea Q says:

      I posted this above, but my four kids (three girls and a boy) have all developed preferences before the age of 2. They’ve skipped sizes here and there, as well. I am just careful about what I buy ahead and I don’t go overboard.

      • Rosie says:

        my daughter is 3 (almost 4) and had developed major preferences. Dresses and skirts over pants, no straight/slim skirts (she won’t wear the jean skirts I bought her at Gymbo… looks like I resell those!), soft pants over jeans, shorts (and skirts) need to be a little “wide leg” to please her. If she feels like its too tight on her legs when she squats down, its a big fat no. I now try to make sure to take her shopping with me and, when in doubt, ask her if she likes it. I found an ADORABLE little pink cropped jacket at Gymbo yesterday for $6.99 (it was from their Easter 2010 line) that I loved, but she said no, so it stayed at the store. I loved it, but knowing she didn’t saved me $7.

  • corie says:

    you can also post on craigslist that u r looking for a certin size cloths. post it in the barder or free section. people are bringing their clothes to the goodwill anyways. if they know sombody needs it they will most likely just give it to u. go through the free cloths, take what you want and donate the rest. free is free. esp when the kids are little cuz they grow so fast!

  • Sarah says:

    Not sure if someone mentioned this yet but if you are afraid of buying ahead because you think the item will be in the wrong season at the wrong time, think layering. I buy t-shirts and tanks for my son ahead along with sweatshirt and hoodies and think of layering when I buy them in case it is cold. Also, most houses are a decent enough temperature that kids can wear t-shirts in the winter and still be comfortable indoors so don’t worry too much and just don’t spend a lot on anything if you aren’t sure when your kid can wear it.

    I also agree that thrift stores can be pricey! I would rather buy at the end of the season like so many people said and save for the next season and have new stuff for about the price of used stuff. My son is currently in a 2T but has a full wardrobe for this coming fall/winter in size 3T all from Gap, Gymboree, Old Navy, the Children’s Place and some Target, probably all for 80-90% off! You can’t beat that and you still get to dress your kiddo well if you want!

    I also agree on the used shoe thing – I just find clearance shoes and buy ahead a size or two so he can have new ones. Shoes pretty much are always in season because my kiddo wears tennis shoes with socks in the summer (he hates sandals alone).

  • Mary Ellen says:

    I tried to do this… but my daughter is 8 months old and already in 24 month and 3T clothes.
    I have NO clue as to what size she’ll be in next. I always figured she’d be a little big…. but this is crazy. Buying ahead might actually mean throwing clothes away for me, or selling them for less than what I paid. I purchased winter clothes on Clearance at Gymboree in 18mo. for the winter, but I’ll have to sell them or donate them with the tags on.

    • Rosie says:

      it gets MUCH easier once they’re about 18 months or 2-years-old and their growth isn’t quite so crazy fast. Until I’m looking at buying 2T for the next year’s season, I don’t buy ahead much, but infants growth and sizes are just too hard to predict. 🙂

    • Rosie says:

      Oh, and seel you gymboree clothes on Ebay, starting in maybe another few weeks or month. If you bought on clearance you’ll probably be able to make your money back. You can EASILY ask half retail for you items and have them sell. Just make sure that you are trying to sell your stuff the same time the store is selling similar stuff… ebay buyers buy the same seasons that are in-store. 🙂

  • cynthia says:

    We do this and our biggest problem is that medium in one style may be different than medium in another style. We have developed a “dot” system to keep track of who’s wearing what – when the oldest is wearing the clothes, it gets one dot. When the middle sized boy (I have twins, but they wear different sizes) is wearing it, two dots and when the little one gets it there are three dots. When it’s so grubby it’s only fit for playing in the yard – four dots. Something with four dots is not EVER allowed at school 😉

  • Suzanne says:

    I have just been swapping clothes…I found out about ThredUp from here and then I found a wonderful group of ladies on Facebook and we also swap clothes for a little over the cost of shipping (to cover paypal fees and such) They have been wonderful about meeting each other’s needs. If I can’t find what I need there, I buy on clearance at the stores…like The Children’s Place, Target, etc. I have found that the cost of clothes at my local 2nd hand children’s store is about the same as clearance at a reg. store. I also do yard sales and have found some nice clothes there as well for .25 or so.

  • Jennifer says:

    Does it defeat the purpose if you have a rent a place to store it all? : )

    I’m only kidding, but with buying ahead and saving old clothes for younger children, the number of boxes around here is really starting to add up.

  • Ann says:

    I’ve done this since my kids were little (they’re 18 and 16 now). Local schools have used clothing sales and I would go with a price limit of $.50 per piece and buy ahead. My son is now 6’2″ and 150 lbs, so there’s very little used clothing in his size out there. My daughter is a perfect size 8, so it’s easy to find stuff in her size. For the past couple of years, whenever I see a nice prom or fancy dress in her size for less than $10 I buy it. I figure she can shop my selections when senior prom comes around. Anything we don’t use I will bring to the consignment shop. This strategy has worked very well with fancy dresses for dances so far. I have a pretty good idea of what she will like.

  • We did this with our baby when she was born and BOY has it been awesome. I got a HUGE bag of 9mo-2T clothes for $3 at a garage sale, and some of it still had the tags on! I love being able to just pull out the next tote instead of having to worry about finding a deal at the store when we need the next size.

  • Natalie says:

    Kohls & Boston Store/Bergners/Carson’s are great places to stock up because they have no time limits on when you can make returns (at least last time I checked!) as long as you keep receipts. If you get to that next season and the clothes don’t fit or your kiddo doesn’t like the styles, you can return them and get what you paid for them!

  • Alea says:

    We do this too. It’s so funny how excited my kids are when they get “new” clothes out of the basement.

  • Shelley says:

    I have been stock piling since my 7 year old was born. Now while trying for our 2nd child, I have opportunity to loan out my extras. I know that most will be returned and in exchange they give me girl clothes to stash for the possibility of our next one being a girl. I’ll be set either way. My basement has 36 totes from newborn to size 14. Most newborn to 2T are boys & girls clothes. Yeah!

  • Ashley says:

    I usually do this too, and try to shop the super clearance at Children’s Place outlets, but this proved to be a total disaster with my son. He is turing 11 months old next week and can still fit in 3-6 month clothing. I had to bump him to 6-9 because I refused to buy any summer clothes in 3-6 months. Thank goodness his cousin was born in the winter before him, so his clothes were opposite seasons and we didn’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe. After him, I’m worried about stocking up again 🙁 Also, my daughter has been in a size 2 since she was 18 months old, and turned 3 on Valentine’s day. She’s getting taller, but has only gained about 2 lbs.
    This is when I am thankful for hand-me downs!

    • Rosie says:

      Like I mentioned above, it gets SO much easier once kids are getting close to 2 years old. Its much easier to predict how long they’ll be in sizes 2T and up, becuase you can expect them to be in each size roughly a year. And on small toddlers… I have one too… I think she only gained 5 pounds in the last few years. I tend to base her clothes on what fits her in length rather than weight, since I can take waists in and buy adjustable waist stuff for her.

      As I rule I do not buy ahead for any sizes under 24 months. I am saving my kids infant clothes for #3 (due in December) and when we find out what we’re having I will buy some newborn and 0-3 month winter items if its a girl (DD #1 was a July baby!), but other wise its just too hard to predict they size for the season until they’re wearing clothes for longer than a few short months. 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    I read in the Tightwad Gazette that it was okay to buy used shoes. The author had even asked a specialist about it and was told it was acceptable. I buy gently worn shoes for my daughters occasionally and pass them down to the next girl. With three girls close in age the clothes are getting passed down too. I am glad you posted this b/c I was about to get rid of all of our extra clothing and just buy new stuff as needed but I remembered I needed to be wise with our money and went back through everything and pulled some stuff out :). thanks again.

    • Michelle Z. says:

      I was going to say the same thing. I love my Tightwad Gazette books, and I wish Amy were still publishing her newsletter.

      I don’t see anything wrong with hand-me-down or (nice condition) used shoes. My pediatrician sister agrees. My son wears socks with all of his shoes, anyway.

  • Krysten says:

    I always buy my son’s clothes for the next year at garage sales, so in the spring before I even start shopping, I make a list of the things I need in each size. That list lives in my wallet all summer long until I find everything that I need for the next year.

    To make this plan work, I always keep his clothes in labeled boxes, sorted by size. Within the boxes, I try to keep like items together so I can easily count how many of each item I already have. I know that since I only have 1 child, it’s tons easier than having 3, but I’m forever tweaking my system to make it easier to manage so hopefully by the time more little blessings come along, I’ll still be able to stay on top of it.

  • Martina says:

    i always purchase things on clearance, but my greatest Deal was buying my two little Boys WIntercoats in August last year, both from jcpenny, one was 2 dollars and the other 4 dollars, i think its about to go shopping for coats again lol

  • erika m says:

    I read almost all the comments but thought I’d give my 2cents. I am so spoiled, as my mother is an insane shopper and loves to go all the time, she buys my kids items mostly at the end of season, (I have 4 kids, 3 boys, 1 girl ages 7mos-5yrs). I don’t think she has ever spent more than $10 on any 1 item. That might sound lofty, but the boys =use 3x + I save for my sister who plans to start trying for a baby in the next 2 yrs. Also, mostly stride rite shoes is what my kids own, though the occasional target/walmart brands make it too. I understand getting some play items and such @thrift/garage sales, and you can pick up some cute used items in general, but I don’t think it saves a TON of money to only frequent these, as everyone else stated, end of season clearance just makes more sense to me. After I see what my kids do with their shoes, I just don’t care to care to buy used, I think its a little icky, but I’m definitely not above it, I also had heard that shoes mold to the individual and that its prob. not best to purchase used, but I don’t think a kid would have drastic issues from wearing used shoes, that sounds silly.

  • Tonya says:

    Belk is also a great place to get deals at end of season. I get my 4-year -old daughter $40 dresses for $3-$4. Now, I have to say that not everything is exactly her style, but they are sweet dresses for church when she visits her grandparents.

    For years, my son has only been able to wear Gap Huskys jeans and khakis. Not exactly an easy second-hand find. Stride Rite shoes are also the best fit. So, I pretty much have to buy him new stuff, but I do well with sales and coupons.

    My kids grow in such weird cycles that buying ahead is sometimes hit and miss. I got my daughter some great Gymboree stuff for winter and she outgrew them before it got cold. On the other hand, I once bought her jeans that she couldn’t wear for two more years.

  • Jana says:

    I stockpile clothing too. It saves ALOT of money for our family. I always make sure the clothing is in great to excellent condition and store it away. I put a few dryer sheets in the plastic totes and it keeps the clothing smelling good even after a long summer in the garage.

    We have a high end second hand store in our area. I pick up alot of designer labels at yard sales and trade them in for store credit at the second hand store. I recently picked up designer clothing (no sizes would fit my kids) for about $15. I got just over $50 in store credit for the clothing. You cannot beat that!

  • Stephanie says:

    I buy ahead too. Now the older one is in 3T so I only buy up to size 5 (if something amazing and classic comes my way as a hand me down I’ll gratefully accept any size). I look for more classic styles and figure I can fill in with trendier pieces closer to when she wears them. I do the same thing with shoes- I buy several sizes ahead. I make an educated guess with sandals and if I miss, then they were only a few dollars. I was particularly grateful this morning when she told me her current sandals were too small and hurt. I was able to go to the closet, pull out the next size and we were good to go. It is June so there is another pair waiting- I can’t imagine her outgrowing two more pair in three months. I hope.
    I saved a trip to the shoe store, at least $30 and time we don’t have by buying ahead.

  • Alexis says:

    My mom has a neat way of keeping my niece and nephews in outfits all the time without storing too much. She will use threadup. But she does it in a really cheap way. She goes to a humane society thrift shop where they have a deal anything you can fit in a grocery bag for $3. She will usually buy a few bags full in similar sizes and get what she needs for my niece and nephews. Then she fills the rest of the bags with similar sizes of nice childrens clothing. She puts those other clothes on threadup so she can get the sizes she needs for my niece and nephews. They always have an abundance of clothing and are well dressed in name brand clothes.

  • Lisa says:

    What I have been doing for years to save money on clothing include the following. Looking on clearance racks at the end of the season (70%-90% off). I host a coupon/clothing/household goods exchange about once every other month with fellow military families so that we can save some money. I shop at military thrift shops on base for the best deals (must show valid military id). I sometimes get hand me downs from friends. I have saved all the clothes from our oldest son so that we would not have to re purchase what we already have. I shop at thredUP if I am looking for anything specific. I have received a few boxes from them stuffed to the brim with clothes in good condition. I have shopped at consignment stores making sure I am getting the best deals. Sometimes if I see stuff at the exchanges I will buy them because we are saving ourselves on tax. Other times I will shop at discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx clearance racks.

    I am now in the process of finding school clothes for my oldest so what we did was go to outlet store Pac Sun where they are having a sale plus an extra 30%-40%+ plus buy one, get one at 50% off. I got some clothes for myself at the GAP when it was on sale, with an extra 40% off stacking it with my discount (AAA-10%).

    We consign or thredUP what we can and the rest gets offered to friends to see if their kids can use them. This is military families supporting our own and making a difference.

  • Ellen says:

    I have three boys- ages 4, 2, and coming in August. =) I have had good luck finding nice baby and toddler boy clothes at yard sales… but really no luck at all with 3T and up. I yard sale all the time, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually found something decent for a boy in those sizes. I’ve given up on it at this point. BUT, since I’ll have 3 boys going through the bigger sizes, I’m willing to pay a little more for jeans, shirts, etc., knowing that we’ll get three kids worth of use out of it. I’m with the ladies who don’t love to shop. My nearest outlet is 45 minutes away, and it’s not worth it to go there to shop a mega clearance sale unless I’m sure there will be stupendous deals in the sizes I’m looking for… Anybody else had this problem with older boy clothes? Any solutions?

  • I started doing this when my son was born, and again when my daughter was born and whiloe we just ahve teh 2 kids i have kept all their clothes since we would like to 2 more.I also have clothes for them at LEAST 2 sizes ahead of where they are. Like my son is in 18 month clothes (he is tiny) and i am working on finishing up his 3t wardrobe and my daughter is in 12 month clothes and i am finishing up her 24 month wardrobe. but i don’t pass up a good deal on clothes either like i just found a few shirts size 5 for Hannah for $0.50 and got them!!

  • Donna says:

    I stockpile clothes and my hubby says “Can you wait til the kid gets there?” but our son receives compliments on his clothes because I can shop ahead and pick up things I like for him rather than rush and buy things that just fit.

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