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Sacrificing to Start a Clothing Stockpile

Guest post by Danielle

I don’t know about anyone else, but money is so tight right now in our household that putting even $5 or $10 extra per month towards stockpiling clothes isn’t available. But instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to do something really different this summer.

If you “have your ear to the ground” economically, you know that cotton prices are continuing to climb steadily. As we get into fall and winter where clothing requires more material, therefore costing more, it could really be a hard squeeze for some families. We decided to change our perspective and plan accordingly.

Our Plan: Make do with what we have for the summer.

I know, it’s crazy, but we’re extremely serious about it for the next three months! My two oldest children, a boy and a girl, have only four outfits each. We have a washer and dryer in our home, so I do one load per day and they have clean clothes every day. My third child, a girl, has more clothing simply because she’s wearing hand-me-downs from her big sister!

We decided not to buy sandals this year because their athletic shoes will fit them through the summer. We aren’t buying swimsuits right now either, because with my husband’s hectic work schedule we can’t even make it to the pool! (We are blessed to have a community pool included as part of living in our townhome complex.)

Here in another month life will slow down a bit, and swimsuits will start going on sale! We’ll buy each child one then, and when they’re clearanced out at the end of the summer, we’ll buy their swimsuits for next year.

So far, because of our strategy to use budgeted “summer clothing” money to purchase clearanced fall and winter clothes for the upcoming season, we’ve been able to purchase from Walmart’s clearance racks:

  • 2 fleece outfits (4T) — $1 each; originally $8 each
  • 2 sets of fleece pajamas (matching for the girls) — $1 each; originally $9 each
  • 1 fleece sleeper (4T) — $1; originally $7
  • 4 long sleeved shirts (4T & 24 months) — $1 each; originally $3.50 each
  • 1 long sleeved shirt (24 months) — $1; originally $3.50
  • 1 heavy fleece-lined fall jacket (24 months) — $1; originally $8
  • 1 pair leggings (24 months) — $1, originally $3.50

Grand Total: $12 for $70 worth of clothing!

My goal isn’t to supply my children’s every need with clearanced clothing, because realistically, that just may not be possible. However, I can make a huge dent in our fall and winter clothing budget, and then use that money to start purchasing clearanced spring and summer clothing for next year!

I just want to encourage everyone that even if you only have a few dollars, if you’re creative and willing to sacrifice a little bit right now, it can pay off in big ways just a few months down the road!

Danielle Bradbury lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, son and two daughters. She and her husband are working hard to rebuild their life after bankruptcy. They are also looking forward to starting homeschool with their son this fall.

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  • Erin says:

    This is a very encouraging post. It’s great to see how a family is sacrificing and making things work instead of buying on credit. I really applaud what you are doing for your family and also how you are helping so many people by taking the time to write a post for Money Saving Mom!

  • tina says:

    I have a very tight budget also, so I look for consignment sales in my local area and go on 50% off days (usually towards the end of the sale) and I make sure to look at a few sizes up also, so my daughter has clothing for the following year. I can usually spend about $30 and be stocked up for this year and some of the following.
    Then I get to sell the clothes she grew out of at the same sale, and have clothes money for the next time!

    • Shelley says:

      I go to JBF Sales and do the same thing on 50% off day- I have bought so many pieces of clothing for so little and they are name brands in great condition! It feels so good to not have to break the budget on every growth spurt!

  • Chantell Fenner says:

    Hmmm, this is how we always need to purchase clothing…guess I’m doing just fine! Thanks!

  • Colleen says:

    Clearance shopping ahead for little ones is the best! You can buy most baby and toddler clothing for $1 or $2. Most of my children’s clothing is purchased this way, and they are adorable and brand new! Buying ahead for the kiddos is totally the way to go! Great post 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Clothing is actually where we save a huge amount of money. We have 3 girls (7, 5, & 3) and a boy (9mos) and they never get full-priced clothes! The 5 and 3 YO didn’t need anything this year because of hand-me-downs. At the end of each season, I group the next size clothes into bags which go into a larger vacuum seal bag that way all I have to do is pull out the bag next season and it is ready to go in that child’s drawers/closet. I purchase in advance when I see things on clearance or steep sale. My 7YO also gets hand-me-downs from her 10 YO cousin but it’s usually not enough to complete a wardrobe. Most of her wardrobe is made up of the things I have bought (clearance/sale) along the way as is my son’s. However, they were in great need of clothes this summer and I broke down and spent $160 for the 2 of them. HOWEVER, the original cost of this shopping trip would have cost over $400 at original prices. I shop the same way (clearance/sale as I find them and store if bought in advance) for shoes. We also have a bag of shoes that we go through each season to “hand down” because my children are fortunately very easy on them.

  • AnneJ says:

    Good for you, Danielle! It’s GREAT to read of someone doing what they can to make things work, even if it means sacrificing the number of outfits for a little while. Way to go! God bless your efforts!

  • Jessie Cunningham says:

    Another way to add on clothing expenses is to not buy long sleeved shirts! I buy only short sleeved. My kids wear them in the summer and in the winter. I purchase a few sweatshirts a season ahead and they wear these when the weather gets cooler.

    I love the idea of making do with what you have. I wish that we had a washer and dryer in our apartment! I would severly cut back on the amount of our children’s clothing.

  • Michelle Krisik says:

    I don’t know about anyone else – but I’ve been doing this for the last couple years! I try to buy the next size up for the next year. This year I’m going to try to add sandals & flip-flops to my list.
    I already started buying clothes for my youngest for next year. It’ll be his first year to go to school.

    • Megan says:

      Same here!

    • Brooke says:

      A word of caution on buying shoes ahead of time. My kids feet always grow very sporadically, jumping a size or two at a time. Shoes are something that should fit well, so it is hard to guess on sizes. I have gotten myself caught with a great pair of clearance shoes that never got used more than once. Just a thought.

      • Michelle Krisik says:

        Thanks for the tip. If I do – I’ll make sure I leave the tags on – that way if they don’t fit – I’ll be able to re-sell for atleast the price I paid. 🙂

        • Stephanie says:

          I have 2 23 months apart and do the same thing. I try to look at it as I still will have saved a great deal of money even if I have to eat the cost of some shoes.
          I really like the idea of recording how much I paid for resale purposes. That is a great idea.

  • Great encouragment! I love Danielle’s “make do with joy” attitude! Lately, our kids have been praying at family devotions for the Lord to provide hand-me-downs……praying He provides the clothes and shoes our growing kiddos need!

  • Lee says:

    I very rarely buy clothes in the season we need them. With 3 boys we have a lot of hand me downs, but even the oldest doesn’t get clothes new for the season unless he has a growth spurt. My mom and mother in law are always finding clothes for me too.

  • Sara says:

    Thank you for this post. Living on a bare-bones budget can be so discouraging sometimes! It is easy to let yoursef have a pity party:) I am blessed by your positive attitude! Thank you again for the encouragement!

    • Allison V. says:

      The trick is, the retail therapy is compounded by the high from getting such great deals!! At least that’s how I see it! Woohoo! 😉

  • Charity says:

    This is how I shop for my kids year-round. Be sure to check out the children’s place in July. They usually have an additional 50% off sale on clearance and you can use the 15% off coupons. Old Navy also usually does the same type of sale in July, though last time it was only an additional 40% off clearance. Often, a survey will print at the bottom of your receipt for an additional 10% off.

  • Nicki Tinney says:

    Hi Danielle,
    I’ve been doing this for a while now. I have not bought myself any clothing in 4 years. Walmart and Target are the best places to get these clearance items. You can find alot of athletic shoes and sandles at Target. I have an autistic 4 year old and I haven’t worked since he was born. It’s hard being budgeted down to one income without going into debt, but we’ve managed that with using coupons and shopping in a wise way. This month I got blue jeans for the winter for $3 from Walmart, they were regularly $38. I got some tops last month for $1 each and my husband some winter stuff too. This should last us another 4 years as he wears a uniform to work. My son is 4 now and fits into a boys size. Walmart doesn’t mark very many things down for boys, but in Target, I’ve noticed they do clothes as well as shoes. Don’t forget to look online too for the wonderful coupons you can get. I got a JcPenny coupon for $10 off $25 purchase for last weekend and found some very nice clearance finds for about $4 each (and this was summer stuff) For $15 I got about $246.00 worth of clothes. It was amazing. I think even if I won the lottory I would still shop like I am now. It’s gotten to be such a feeling of self-satisfaction that I am not wasting money and I am providing what my family needs while my husband provides all our financial needs. I am even managing to put some money in savings every month and this is a blessing! I’ve budgetted $25 per month for clothing and shoes and I add that to a mayo jar I keep in my kitchen. If I see anything one month, that means I have more money for the month ahead when I see those items or get that good coupon. Keep it going. You will be amazed at your savings and the way you can manage your family budget.

    • BethB says:

      My son grew out of toddler sizes last year and I did not like the price jump. FYI, Kohl’s marks down their boys clothes pretty low at the end of the season though I have noticed their sizes run quite a bit smaller than Old Navy and Gap.

      JC Penney’s and Sears are places I’ve managed to find dirt cheap kids’ clothes at the right time of year.

    • mildred lane says:

      Khols is good about giving $10 cards. I have gotten 5. I go to the clearance isle and you would be surprised at how far $10 sill go.
      I wanted to get my 13 yr old sandles but he refused. I got a good new pair of leather slip ons. He fussed,tried them on, and has worn them ever sience. lol

  • Janet says:

    10 years ago I left a very bad marriage with two teens. They were growing by leaps and bounds and I had zero in cash. Folks around me saw the need and provided my children with name brand clothing some even never worn. If you need God does provide. I made certain when the clothing was worn by mine and out grown we provided again for someone else in need. I recently even cleared the oldest closet as she has now graduated from Grad school and finds she does not wear many of the items that were up to 10 years in her closet. We wrapped them up and sent them to the folks in Joplin this was name brand yoga pants, gym shorts and t-shirts Aberocrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, GAP, Old Navy great stuff ! I bought a few pair of new flip flops and some new socks and underwear and I packed 50 boxes. Each box cost me less than $5.00 shopping with coupons and what we gave would last each person who managed to get a box one month. Hygiene and clothing to cover for one full month. We all have ways to bless others we just have to keep looking around.

    • BethT says:

      This is awesome, what organization did you send it too? I wouldn’t mind doing the same with extra clothes that I have around 🙂

    • mildred lane says:

      good for you, Janet.

    • Katie says:

      That’s wonderful! God really provided for you in a time of need through others and now that you are in the position to help others you’ve not forgotten 🙂 It’s wonderful how He gives us opportunities to give as well as receive. We’re in a similar position. We’re on a tight budget (especially for our area- in NJ), but we’re actually very wealthy compared to many. We’ve never had to buy any clothing for my 2 yr old son except socks! And we’re stockpiled up to 5 years! So many people have passed on new or like new clothing and when my 2 yr old was born, all my college girlfriends got together and gave us a big supply of cloth diapers. Over time I’ve shopped sales and added a dozen or so other diapers. Now a dear friend who is expecting her second child is going to borrow the infant sized diapers (and hopefully the rest as time goes on). They are having trouble buying food and do NOT have money any more for disposable diapers. I’m so thankful that after all that’s been giving with an open hand to me, I can help a friend who is in even greater need. It really makes me stop and thank God for just how blessed we are!

      (**I know not everyone would want to share cloth diapers, so I’m sorry if that’s offensive at all!!)

  • Sarah C says:

    Danielle, my son will be growing out of his 4T clothes this fall, and we have been given a whole bunch. If you’d like them, I could send whatever you thought you needed. Some of them are worn (been through several kids and make great play clothes) but some are really nice dress-up clothes, and look like new. Let me know if you’d like them.

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Sarah!
      Thank you for that kind offer! I’m blown away!

      Right now my son is wearing a mix of 5T and XS (4-5) from the boys department, but I appreciate your generosity so much! Thank you again!

      • Danielle, I am so glad you left a comment…..I have been stalking these comments all day, hoping you would:). Would you please, please, please email me your daughters’ dress sizes and your address. My email is:
        You can look at my site and probably figure out why:) Just email me the info, and tell your girlies to be looking out for a “treat” in the mail:)

        • Carrie says:

          You are a true class act, Julie 🙂

          I’m in a similar spot to where Danielle is, and people like you make each day just a little brighter.

        • Danielle says:

          Your generosity is overwhelming to put it lightly! Thank you so much!

  • Erica says:

    I don’t know what sort of utilities are included with your home payment, but for my family the cost doing laundry daily (detergent, water, gas or electric for hot water tank and drying) would negate a lot of the savings described here. I realize every family has very different circumstances, but a great no-cost option is to join a group such as Freecycle where members post Offers and Wants. Not every offer is stellar, but I have given and received great quality items, and many people have baby and children’s clothing to offer – and they’re happy just to reclaim the space! Good luck!

    • Heather says:

      Only if those clothes are being washed in a less than full load. If it’s a full load, the amount of loads you do should be the same, whether you have a lot of clothing or a little.

    • Sherri says:

      I don’t quite understand how it costs more to do laundry daily than weekly. I run one full load almost every day (summer clothes have less fabric so I can skip days now and then, or I toss in sheets or towels to fill it up) and hang much of it out to dry. If I waited and did it all at once, I’d still have the same 4-5 loads to wash, but I wouldn’t have enough room to hang it all out to dry, so I’d use the dryer more. Therefore, it would cost me more to NOT do laundry frequently.

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Erica!

      Thankfully water is included in our rent, so that really helps out quite a bit!

      You’re right about daily laundry not working for every family in the savings department!

      Lauren Hill over at Mama’s Laundry Talk wrote a GREAT post on determining how much it might cost your family to do laundry. Here’s the link just in case anyone else might be interested!

      • Brynn says:

        Hi Danielle! Just a thought about your children getting to have bathing suits earlier rather than later. I am on facebook, and have found that if I ever ask a question like “Anyone have a girl’s bathing suit size X and a boy’s suit size X that we could borrow for a season? Will repay the kindness with cookies or babysitting!!” you would be apt to get a great response!! Also I am in a MOPS group – not sure if you have that kind of group nearby but there are MOPS groups all around the country – and an email sent out to other moms maybe offering a clothing swap would be well received too. I just was trying to think of a way to get your kids suits. 🙂

    • Erica says:

      I was NOT trying to be negative here, what I said was that daily laundry is not a savings to ALL families. My family of three doesn’t make a full load each day, and that includes cloth diapers. In addition we wash clothes according to the instructions in order to make them last longer as my husband & I each wear (washable) professional dress clothes daily. To properly care for these items I must wash them accordingly. For a larger family that might make a load each day, or for families that don’t want/need to separate colors or fabrics, the theory in the post is plausible. Not everyone can hang clothes to dry, just like not everyone has a dryer. For my family, and possibly other smaller families this just isn’t a frugal choice and it would be more prudent to save costs on a slightly larger wardrobe by utilizing available ways to get free or extremely inexpensive clothes.

      • I have a family of 8. I have the largest capacity washer and dryer out there. I wash 4 FULL loads every day. (I only wash towels once a week and sheets every other week, but small children go through a lot of clothes and bibs! We also use cloth napkins and clean with cloth rags, and someone always has a spill to wipe up. My husband and I wear pants/skirts (dh obviosuly doesn’t wear skirts) for more than one day, and I still have that much).

        When we were a smaller family, it was different, but now, we do a lot of laundry.

        • This makes me feel better:) We are family of 7, the 2 youngest being twins with reflux…..and I run 3 good loads a day. Thought I was crazy….but maybe not:)

          • Carrie says:

            We are a family of 5 (soon to be 6!) and I do 2 loads 5 days per week. If not, I’m swamped! I’ve often thought that having less clothing would actually work in our favor. I get cute ones so inexpensive, though, that I have a hard time passing them up!

        • Andrea Q says:

          If the kids get messy, I don’t change their clothes unless we have to go out or it is something like mustard that will stain if not treated quickly. And we change after potty accidents! One of my girls had yogurt on her shorts all day yesterday and toothpaste on her shirt. It didn’t bother her 🙂 I figure my average cost per load is $0.65 (because I line dry as much as possible). Washing one less load per week saves $34 per year.

      • Leighann says:

        When we were a family of 3 we did our laundry at the laundrymat once every week or two weeks, even. It cost us less doing it that way than it would at home, and we didn’t have a washer or dryer at home, anyway.

        Now that we’re a family of 5 (including a preschooler and a newborn), doing laundry every 2 or 3 days at home is better for us. You’re absolutely right that it’s different for everyone’s circumstances! We also wear our jeans 3 or even 4 times before we wash them to help save on the amount of laundry we’re doing. When you’re not getting out and sweaty and getting dirty (and my husband works an office job he can wear jeans to daily) there’s no reason to wash the jeans every day.

      • Janet says:

        I don’t think anyone is ever trying to be negative on this site . Look at all the generousity in just these few post! We are all friendly just trying to help each other out. It is easy to get confused and misread what someone has intent was. However, the overall of everyone who seems to be here all the time is love, friendship and being helpful to one another.
        Keep up the great work ladies!

        Helping each other is what life is all about!

        Woman of AMERICA UNITE !!!!!

        If we join together there is nothing we can not accomplish!
        NO child has to go hungry, without food , or education. In fact I personally believe we can also get all children into loving homes if we just all join forces.

      • Andrea Q says:

        I understand your point, Erica. If you have so few clothes that you have to wash partial loads in order to get dressed, you will waste money.

        It costs me about $1 per load to use my king capacity washer and dryer. If the washer isn’t full, I’m wasting money. I line dry a lot of our laundry, so the cost is more like $0.65 per load when averaged over the course of the year.

        If you run one extra (not full) load per week for the entire year, that’s about $50.

  • Ashley says:

    I love this site so much because there are a range of topics to learn about and discuss. I’ve noticed a trend in people stating they are on such a tight budget and they can barely afford this or that. Perhaps paying for the internet is something to consider to cut out of the monthly budget in order to provide clothing and food and other necessities for your family. Because, after all, do we really NEED to be online? I doubt it. And, I don’t know about other areas of the country, but it certainly isn’t cheap and definitely adds up over the course of a year. Just a thought, no intention of putting anyone down or hurting feelings!

    • Crystal says:

      Some people actually access this site at the library or from their work since they don’t have internet at home in order save money. However, many of our readers save a lot more money by having the internet (through being able to sign up for free deals, coupons, find the best deals in their local area, etc.) than they would if they didn’t have it. It’s one of those things you need to determine the ROI of it and see if it’s worth it or not.

      • Allison says:

        I agree! I print enough coupon savings every month to more than pay for my internet access. I also get freebies/samples. I got a 12-pack of Pepsi from CVS today for $0.99 because I had access to the internet.

      • Kristen says:

        Also you have to keep in mind that some people may be in a tight situation financially because of school (like myself) 🙂 and that’s one thing you really can’t cut when you’re in college!

      • Liz says:

        We did without internet for 6 months, until our phone company started offering it in our area cheaply. During that time, we visited the library and my in-laws house once a week to get deals, coupons, etc.

        • BethT says:

          We cancelled our high speed until they offered a local deal of $15 per month for the same service. We find its worth it at that price.

      • Kelley says:

        Having internet for my stuggling family is a must! Not only do I save and am able to buy things we need at a fraction of the price. I also use it to sell on Ebay. Thanks Crystal for providing this site and helping me help my family so much! Not everyone is like Ashley and and NOT on on a tight budget, for most people on a tight budget the internet is a lifesaver.

        • Danielle says:

          Snap, Kelley! I don’t think that is what Ashley was saying at all. There are other options for internet access other than paying for it out of your own pocket. She was just pointing that out.

          • Kelley says:

            oops, you are right 🙂 I first read it like…if you can’t buy clothes for your family you shouldn’t be buying the internet. I agree you should look for the cheapest way to have some sort of internet. The internet can be a well worth tool to save money. My family has been hit hard with the economy and we are on the tightest budget, I guess I felt guilty for paying for internet when I first read the post. And I know I spend too much time online. It is my only guity pleasure. And I justify it by the money it helps me save.

    • Christy says:

      Internet is expensive where I live, but I cannot imagine doing without it. Without internet, I would have to pay postage on on my bills and pay for the checks, plus all the coupons I print out (on a black and white laser printer on reused paper–LOL) as others have mentioned help offset the cost. I do so many things on the Internet that I would have to drive around town or make time for I don’t have to do the old fashioned way (ROI). Also I do a lot of work at home and it is much easier to have Internet access — I am a teacher–Internet access at home gives me access to my work e-mail (parent communication), my classroom website which I have to update weekly, my grade-book (on-line gradebook), clip art for SMARTboard lessons, access to streaming video services used by our state so I can preview and add to lessons, and google searches for ideas. Otherwise I would have to do all of this after work while still at school and I prefer to leave work at 3 or 3:30 everyday, spend time with my children, and then do these things after they go to bed–so as Crystal stated this is the ROI for me!!

    • Allison V. says:

      I understand your thought process…we have been a measly one-income family for several years. My husband *had* to have internet for his gaming addiction (different story) but through it I discovered MSM, and it was also necessary for finding jobs later on. I’m now single, but I’m making more money than we ever had before, and I keep my bills very low. My slowest-internet-available just jumped from $21 a month to $24 (which I’d say is pretty cheap), I pay my friend $20 to piggyback my phone on her plan, I keep my A/C set high and am looking into a programmable thermostat, and I’m a responsible driver so my car insurance is VERY low. That and rent are the extent of my monthly bills. I always want to preach at the people that say, “I can’t afford _____” but I look at their house, their cars, their everything else, and think, who cares? Look what you can already afford? Ok…enough said. I get what you’re saying and now I’m probably going to get in trouble! =)

      Oh, and because I’m a single mom of three preschoolers, you’re looking at my social life right here! Internet & Netflix give me something to do in the long lonely evenings!

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Ashley!

      I definitely understand your point! We did go without internet and tv for a little over a year, but now my husband is going back to college and has to do all of his coursework over the internet. He works 50 hour weeks at the least and getting to the library for internet just isn’t an option right now.
      I also save almost 4x what our internet costs, and I just couldn’t do that without the internet here in our home. Lastly, we also use the internet extensively for homeschooling, especially since we’re writing our own kindergarten curriculum to avoid paying hundreds of dollars on other people’s curriculum.

      Right now it just isn’t an expense that can be cut, so we look for other “extreme” ways to save as much as possible!

    • AMH says:

      I disagree. If you can afford the internet at home- it can save you lots. Coupons, my son has homework assigned online (schlepping my kids to the library at 7pm is out of the question-we use the library for *many* other things), educational programs, my work requires I have internet access or else I can’t work from home(telecommute/working at night vs being @ work) and we got rid of cable and watch shows through the computer. The bigger problem is the monopoly internet providers have. I live in a major metropolitan area and there is only one high speed internet provider.

  • Challice says:

    I rarely find anything marked down to $1 at our walmart BUT! I did this summer, I found pants all the way up to size 14 marked down to $1. (My only son is a size 3t at this point) since I usually spend $2-$3 at a thrift store for a pair of used jeans, I picked up all I could. It may seem silly but I know that times are only going to get harder, not easier and I knew that I would be so thankful one day for my $1 jeans. 🙂

  • Megan says:

    I see no problem living on clearance clothing, why pay more right? I do not have children, yet, but when I shop for myself I try very hard to stay around $5-$10 per item. Of course occasionally I have to pay more for work clothes, but with the other savings its not so bad. I have a pair of capris that I paid full price for right now and every time I wear them I remember how much they cost and they were full price, at Old Navy, just silly! If its not on sale or I don’t have a coupon, do I really need it right now?

  • David Lintz says:

    I own a children’s clothing store in my local mall. As a warning, prices in the fall are going to be much higer at all clothing retailers due to high cotton prices. Gap, JCP, and Walmart have all issued inflation warnings. As an example, coats that I paid $12.50 for last year are $16 this year, WHOLESALE. Stocking up now is a good bet because next spring will likely be just as severe.

    • amanda says:

      Thank you for the update on this. Some children’s stores are already reducing summer clothing 50-60% or more so I will definitely take this into consideration to buy on clearance now and put away for next year for my two older children. Thankfully my 2 1/2 year old he doesn’t mind a bit that he wears his big brother’s old stuff! 🙂

    • Kristen says:

      I am so glad I already have my daughter’s entire Fall wardrobe and I don’t think I spent more than $2-3 on anything (including jeans)! In fact I think I overbought and I may sell some items LOL

  • Mrs S says:

    What a great story! I do the same with my kids, I have a tote in each closet filled with larger clothes, either givent to us, or purchased on clearance at the end of a season. Friends and relatives will often give or sell cheap (like $5 for a garbage-sized bag) of clothing if you ask them something like “I was wondering what you did with _____’s clothes when (s)he outgrows them?” Even if the consign most of their kids clothes, you can often get socks, pants with small grass stains on the knees or other items that consignment stores wont accept. Dannielle has a great idea in only owning a few clothes… saves a lot of work folding extra clothes too!

  • Kim Kohlschmidt says:

    I have 4 children that are now adults. It takes alot of money to clothe these kids. I love garage sales this is where I do alot of my shopping , my kids wore name brand clothes at a cheap price (.50 up to 2.00) . One year I got creative I took white shirts and jeans perfect condition but had a hole in the knees. I took some scraps of material and cut out hearts and flowers applied the to the jeans and shirts with wonderunder ironed them on then decorated with fabric paint. I bought new canvas shoes and made them match the clothes and made scrunchies with the material.. I recieved so many complements and the girls were so proud. Mom made them….

  • Carrie says:


    If you email me, I have a coupon code that could help you get at least those bathing suits for free and probably a few other things too.


  • Debi says:

    That’s a great sacrifice, Danielle!! Do you have garage sales in your area? I have found garage sales to be my best option for providing clothing for my 6 children, I usually pay .25-.50 cents per item. Of course, different areas have different pricing. I definitely second subscribing to freecycle and check out the free page on craigslist..we’ve scored some great items that way! God Bless and Great job!!!

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Debi!

      Yes, we do have plenty of garage sales in our area, it’s just the getting to them that’s hard! 🙂 I have three little ones ages 5, 3 and 1. My husband works Fridays and Saturdays, 10 hour days, so I haven’t been brave enough to try and go to a sale on my own! It just seems a little daunting right now, with needing to be able to actually look through the clothing and make sure it’s a good quality/price. Hopefully next year! And I’m beginning to watch craigslist and freecycle now, thanks to all the wonderful comments and suggestions left on here! 🙂

  • angie says:

    I echo Sarah C above. What size does your son wear or need? If it’s something my own have outgrown I’d like to share and send you some items.

  • Kim Kohlschmidt says:

    I am a clearance fanatic, I love a bargain. My kids always give me a bad time (we know where to find mom). I have found so may clothe 4 kids. ( very expensive). I have survived… I have found things that have been priced at 20.00 that are down to 1.00. Love it. I have been doing this for years. I also shop clearance for shoes sock underwear. Always check the back of the stores for clearance if you can’t find it just ask… Happy hunting.

  • That is wonderful! Our money isn’t quite so tight right now, but I’ve been trying to make do for summer clothes too. I’m going to be cutting off all my son’s holey jeans into shorts, and I might shorten some sleeves too. I’m not really a great seamstress, but my kids are young enough that they won’t notice or care if things aren’t perfect. I’ve also been making my little girl skirts from my old t-shirts!

    • Jessica says:

      My DD had several double layer looking shirts that looked like a t-shirt with a long sleeve shirt under it but the long sleeves were just sewn on. I ripped the seam out, removed the long sleeve and stitched the short sleeves hem back. Now she can wear them for another season 🙂

  • Brittany W says:

    Great ideas! We do that a lot now and I have a drawer for both kids for the next few sizes up!

  • I LOVE finding clearances clothes out of season! I recently bought my kids several pairs of winter PJ’s for around $3 each. Sometimes, it’s hard when they are so young to know if they are going to fit or not. But, I do look forward to not having to buy winter PJ’s at full price!

  • dawn says:

    I love that you have this post, but I always get a little frustrated because my boys are teens now and you don’t always find a ton of great deals for them. I saved bunches when they were toddlers but most posts talk about how to save when you have small kids.

    I try to buy on clearance whenever possible and stockpile, my boys don’t really share pants because they are built completely different (the oldest is very slim and my youngest is not). I can hand down shirts but that is about it. I have bought clothes at the thrift store as well because you can pretty good deals there too.

    I just wish there were a lot more info for parents of older kids as well. Thanks

    • Jessica says:

      JC Penney and Kohls!

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve been posting men’s/young men’s deals as I find them, but I agree that it’s harder when they are older — especially as they become more particular! But the same principles of buying ahead (when possible) and shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, online deals, clearance racks, etc. can be applied — just in a bit more creative fashion!

      • Janet says:

        I have four and they are all grown up now. The secrets to buying clothing on the cheap when they get older.

        #1. Give them a clothing allowance (just like you have for yourself and your husband)
        #2. Teach them how they can shop ahead and look for very classic and basic items at consignment and thrift stores let’s say black pants, khaki, or jeans, or for a boy a tux, for a girl a classic dress top of the line consignment have great deals for proms etc…
        #3. Make them a list of what they need with the money
        Example 6 shirts two long sleeve 4 short sleeve 5 pairs of slacks one jacket.
        They learn how to shop for when they are all grown up and away from home they start to search for the clothing then you can approve or turn down (you hold on to the money so you get the final say)
        Just teach them what they need and how to do it. They can find coupons , coupon codes and sales while your busy looking for the younger ones clothing or even something for yourself when the younger ones get old.
        You will be surprised at how well a child of 10 or 12 can do when looking for clothing.

    • Cathe says:

      Kohl’s! I don’t think they have a great selection of children’s clearance clothing, but they are great for adults!

    • Meagan says:

      Dawn, I agree with you about how hard it is to find good clearance for teenage boys! We have three sons, 15, 12, and 11. The 12 and 11 year old I can find clearance on still, but it is so much harder for our oldest. One of the hardest things I find is that you don’t always know what size you’re going to need next, so I don’t always like to shop ahead. With kids, you know what the next size up is, and I’ve found that generally their growth is pretty consistent (as in, I’ve never had one of the boys completely skip a size). However, with teenagers and their hormones and growth spurts, and their legs growing faster than the rest of their body, or maybe not quite as fast, it’s hard to guess what the next size they’ll need is. For my husband, it’s easier, because his weight stays pretty consistent, and he’s not growing any taller 🙂

      And, I like Kohl’s, but I often find, at least at my store, that their clearance deals aren’t always that great. I always search through, though, but I do that at every store!

      One place I was surprised to find clothes for our son was at Pac Sun. Every so often they will do 50% off their clearance items, and I am able to get our oldest name brand t-shirts for $5 or under and I can also find jeans their reasonably when their are discounting their clearance. This is normally just a few times a year, and I love it because even though my oldest would never think to complain about what he wears, I know that he is happy to get some nicer things.

      • dawn says:

        Meagan, thanks for the info on Pac Sun I have to admit I have never shopped there. My oldest is also 15 and has a very slim waist so it is hard to find pants that don’t have a huge waist. He has shot up so fast and is still so slim it is just crazy finding pants and slacks and shorts. I’ll give Pac Sun a try and Kohls again. I have heard a lot of people shop Kohls I just have not had the much luck there.

        Thanks again and good luck to you. dawn

      • Wendy says:

        I totally agree that you can’t shop too far ahead for a teenage boy. I’m scared to for my 14 year old. Last May he wore a 9 1/2 shoe. This May he’s in a size 12. He jumped 2 clothes sizes in a matter of months. I couldn’t keep up. He had to make do with 2 pairs of jeans until he slowed down.

        • kerry D. says:

          I completely agree that it’s much harder to clothe teens. Not only are they growing crazy fast (our oldest once outgrew a pair of shoes in two weeks!) but style has been more important to them. My oldest was very picky about brands, so we allowed him his choice–he had only one pair of pants purchased on sale for back to school, and his 2nd or 3rd pair would be his gift for Christmas or his birthday. Now that he’s older he’s regained his appreciation for a good deal! He’ll happily browse thrift stores or Marshalls.

          The others have been easier, but still have very individual personalities, both very sporty and my daughter (lucky us) prefers to dress fairly modestly. We find good deals on clearance at Old Navy or for my DD, “Forever 21″… at $15 she can wear “skinny leg” jeans that have lasted all school year.

          Not to mention feeding the teens!!! I shop very carefully, and make as much as possible from scratch to accommodate their unbelievable appetites. Good luck!!!

    • Kelley says:

      I have 3 teen boys. KOHLS is where I buy all of their clothes! I never pay full price and I stack coupons there! Tomorrow our local newspaper is suppose to have a $10 off $20 coupon. I buy several papers when this coupon comes out. (This coupon comes out almost monthly.) I stack it with 5.00 off email signup coupons and percent off coupons and I only shop the clearance sections. Kohl’s always have a good selection of clearance. I can usually get about 20 dollars of clothes for about 5.00 or less each trip. Hope this helps.

    • Stephanie says:

      Land’s End clearance combined with free shipping rocks for older boys.

  • Melissa says:

    I do the same thing that you are doing….I refuse to pay full price for clothing for my kids, they grow so fast….I hit a great sale at Jc Penneys the other day. I got a coupon that was $15 off $15….almost all the clothes were marked down to 90% off…I was able to get 3 outfits each for the girls and flip flops all for .89 cents.The clothes I picked can be worn to school also…I can’t really buy for my oldest because she is kind of picky, but for my youngest I always buy bigger sizes when I find a good deal.

    • Kristen says:

      I wish my JcPenney had they’re clearance that cheap! I went today with a $10 coupon and a $15 coupon and didn’t buy a thing 🙁

  • Kim Sturgill says:

    Thank you for sharing this with others. We have just went through bankruptcy ourselves and are having to “start all over”
    Thanks once again

  • Jess Johnson says:

    I have found that Target has great clearance on toddler clothing! I will not buy an item of clothing for my 2 year old at Target for regular price. Generally if you wait a few weeks they will be marked way down! Thanks for the article!

  • Bobbi Simmons says:

    I used to work for Herbergers and in July and August is a great time to buy baby and kids clothes. Look online for coupons and sign up to get the Herbergers flyer in the mail. 🙂 JCP is great too. They have good coupons also!

  • cheryl says:

    Danielle, check your local newspaper for ads for kids’ clothing giveaways. I’ve seen ads for churches that often organize such giveaways, particularly before school starts. Also, find a thrift store that gets name brand donations and see if they have clothing discount days too. I pay no more than $1.25 for Old Navy, Gap. etc. If your kids are in public school, ask the school counselor about help. I have purchased layered winter coats for 75% off at Target ($34.99 retail marked down to $8.74) and donated them to our local school for the counselor to give to needy children. Hope this helps!

  • Lisa says:

    We have taken advantage of the clearance racks for some time with clothing, but every once in a blue moon, I run across a great deal on clearance shoes (or a business closes). When that has happened and I have had the extra $$, we buy a few sizes up in shoes…and save a bundle!

  • Sunshine says:

    Great post! I love when things go to $1 and also have gotten quite a bit for my four kids from consignment sales. I haven’t shopped retail in years and yet my babies still wear Gymboree, Carters, Oshkosh, etc. just from these sales. I would love to hear from you Danielle…I live in Va and just finished our second year of homeschooling…it’s been an adventure!

  • You may also be interested in thredUP. They’re a site where moms put together boxes of hand-me-downs and you pick which box you want. Kind of like Craig’s List, but far-reaching and cheap!

    • Holly says:

      Thank you for the tip! I have all of my daughters clothes, (she is now two) and I have been looking for a good place to try and sell them in bulk!!

  • chrissy says:

    I have been shopping at thrift stores lately (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc). I have found a TON of brand new name brand clothing for pennies on the dollar. Each item at Goodwill for the kiddos, $1 (or less when they have specials going on). At Salvation Army, they had buy 1 get 3 free. So 4 items for .99! Majority of the clothing is Gap, Carter, Gymboree. This is the best way to shop, even when you are not on a tight budget!
    We also have a store called Once Upon a Child. I go there twice a year when they have their $1 sale!

    • Kristen says:


      While I do love a good thrift store, all states and stores prices vary. For instance, my Goodwill charges $3.07 per item for Children… And as for always getting Gap, Carter etc. not true (At least where I live) it may be my town, but Salvation Army mostly carries the junkie kids clothes, like old,faded, swimsuits. Just wanted to clarify! But I do love thrift stores and I echo your idea to shop at thrift stores to Stock-Pile Clothes.

  • I just saw kid’s swimsuits on clearance for $3 each at Target. Just FYI.
    Also, try freecycle. I get TONS of barely used kid’s clothes this way (for FREE!).
    In fact, my kid’s only wear freecycle clothes and clothes that I buy ahead os season to supplement their wardrobe. My goal is $1.50 per item or less.
    Their closets are STUFFED.
    We do splurge on really nice shoes for the kids, though. I think that it’s important their feet are properly supported.

  • Kamani says:

    This is a great idea. I think I will look into doing this myself. Thanks for the idea and inspiration.

  • amanda says:

    I have a large group of women that I work with and we all swap kids clothes with each other (and maternity clothes for us). It’s great to share our gently used items with other moms whose kids are going to be in the size the your child was last year or the year before. One awesome gal hands me down tons of excellent quality things from her son who is a year and half older than mine. She’s been giving me things since he was a baby so I haven’t really had to buy many clothes for him unless I find something I just HAVE to have and is on the clearance rack (and of course jeans, he burns holes in the knees like no one’s business- and that’s with reinforcements put on the inside of the knees, too. LOL). Since I have 2 boys, these great clothes end up being worn by THREE different children. I have even passed some things to my baby nephew so FOUR little boys have worn some of the items. Talk about huge cost savings AND it helps the environment. When we all share with each other less NEW product has to be produced =D

  • cindy gutowski says: No need to spend anything for clothes!! My son just got 5 pairs of skinny jeans…they are so expensive. Freecycle is free! You can offer items or ask for them. Or just keep a watch out every day. I am picking up a DDR MAX2. This is a dancing video game for playstation 2 that my kids have wanted. They had to wait a bit but now we’ll be getting it for free. I have given away so many things. I don’t have to make trips to GoodWill because you just leave your item outside and the person comes for it on a agreed upon day and time. One persons trash is anothers treasure. I posted my broken hot water heater for scrap metal. People came the next day. I would have had to have it in front of my house for a week before the town could pick it up. Here it was gone the next day and I helped a family make some money. This keeps the landfills from filling up. I am giving a huge bag away now with mixed clothes, all ages. I will post it like that. Before long I will have to choose who to give the clothes to.
    Sign up!

  • jamie says:

    We always do the clearance thing. Plus I am in a way lucky. My mother-in-law works at a Walmart near us. As soon as things get marked down to a dollar she texts all of us to let us know or she buys a bunch of stuff for all of the grand kids on her break. Under our basement stairs we keep totes of each size of clothing. We have three girls so most of the time we just have to buy for the oldest and fill in items here and there for the youger two. My oldest is 7 and finally to the point where pants don’t make it through the season to hand down but we still do really good. A couple weeks ago at Target I bought 3 pairs of the exact same jeans for my 4 year old for $1 a pair. I figure I can cut one of them into capri’s for that price!

  • pam says:

    Times are hard for alot of people right now. I think you are on the right track. My parents NEVER charged anything. If they did not have the money to pay for it then it wasn’t bought. They had 1 credit card and that was a J.C. Penney card. The J.C. Penney card was only used 1 time. I know it is hard especially when you have children. I believe it will teach your children better values of life. Watch out for the J.C. Penney $10.00 off of $10.00 coupons and you could use those towards your kids clothes. Maybe relatives and friends can help you out with their coupons.

    • Kohl’s will also often send you a $10 off any purchase gift card. I seem to be getting one per month here lately! I know I sound like a broken record but diligently shopping yard sales beat clearance prices, though I love the idea of using free cycle for clothes. People give away kid clothes all the time!

    • Carrie says:

      I love those $10 off coupons too! I just used one to buy my daughter 2 solid colored tees (it seemed like everything in my stockpile had a print on it!) and myself a pair of cute underwear that I would otherwise never spend money on, even if they were on steep discount. lol I paid just a dollar or so out of pocket. Hooray!

  • Dannell says:

    I also HIGHLY recommend the site ‘Thredup’. I have two boys, my youngest ALWAYS has lots of clothes as he gets hand me downs from his brother and gifts from family at the holidays, I put together boxes of his out grown clothes on the Thredup site and get credit that I can use towards picking boxes of clothes in larger sizes for my older son. It is a win-win situation!

  • Suzanne says:

    Here’s another idea…
    Our local catholic church has semi-annual consignment sales and is in a rather affluent area. On the last day of the sale, everything is 50% off. I am a consignor at the sale and a purchaser. When I consign, I price my things very attractively so that most of my items will sale. We’re talking full gymboree outfits for $7. When marked 50% off, that’s 3.50 for at least 3 pcs usually. I package carters sleepers together and mark the 2 at $4. That’s $2 or $1 each at the 50% off sale. What I’ve noticed when I receive my consignor report is that a lot of things were purchased during the 50% off sale. This is something you may want to try. And, 30% of what you pay for items goes as a donation to the church. 2 thumbs up from me!

  • Carmen says:


    I love your sacrifice now, plan thriftfully, enjoy later. With eight children ages 1 -17, I just love going into the garage, pulling out a labeled tote and finding just the right size brand new piece of clothing that I purchased a few months or many months ago knowing I only paid a dollar or two for it. I always give thanks to my Heavenly Father, because He new just what size my children would need. I can’t remember ever buying a piece ahead and not using it.
    Our church friends know we love bargains and can find a use for nearly anything we are given. We call it “Black Bag Shopping” when we pour out a bag on the living room floor to see what someone has given us. Last week the bag contained a new pair of Nike men’s shoes in the size my 13 year old son wears and a new pair of Addidas shoes in the next size.
    Readers, please find a friend with whom you can share, we are glad our friends do!!!! Those in our church know if they have a need, we will open our refrigerator for them!!!

  • Kandra says:

    I’ve been getting lucky with getting good clothing at Goodwill and thrift shops as well as on clearance. Unfortunately I can’t buy ahead or do hand me downs because my two girls are the same size and very tall for their ages.

  • Daisha says:

    Another place to look for cheap clothes is on craigslist. I often see listings for bags of clothes around $5. Also check the FREE listings. . . I’ve seen kids clothes on there too! You could also organize a clothing swap with friends, church members etc . . . all bring clothes and trade for what you need.

  • Becky says:

    I love reading all the articals on this site! It’s so encouraging to read about other Moms finding ways to stay in budget and take care of their children. I also buy ahead on the clearance racks, and find I somehow get more joy out of clothing that was inexpensive, than feeling regret about something I paid too much for. I love selling things in yardsales to make money to buy the next season for my family, but I’ve found if I give items away to friends or when I hear of a need. It always comes back to me tenfold! Don’t be afraid to give hand-me-downs away..for free. My mom always said, “What goes around, comes around!”

  • bridesmaid says:

    Several years ago I hit one of those $1 Walmart clearance racks in the winter and was able to bless my roommate. She was getting married in December and honeymooning at a coastal resort. Thanks to the clearance rack I found her several tank tops, halter tops, and shorts for her to have new outfits for her honeymoon! And if you’re able to shop off-season for yourself you can open the closet the following winter or summer and find brand new clothes to enjoy! 🙂

  • Ashli says:

    Another way to supplement clothing for kids is to learn to sew a bit. I routinely shorten pants to shorts, long sleeved to short sleeved, etc. I get two to three seasons out of some items this way! You can also use old jeans to reinforce the knees of new jeans (by ironing on a patch on the inside of the jeans where it doesn’t show to help slow the wear) and use scraps to embellish over stains or holes.

    • Megan says:

      Great ideas! I routinely turn my boys’ pants into shorts for summer. But, tell me where to get the patches!? Thanks!

      • Ashli says:

        I use just cut a piece of scrap denim from an old pair of jeans and cut a piece of iron on interfacing the same size. You can get it at the fabric store really cheap. You can also buy demin patches pre made in any fabric store, I think places like Wal-Mart (anywhere with sewing/craft sections) carry them too.

    • Allison V. says:

      I don’t generally alter clothing, although I could. But my kids are pretty skinny, so I buy certain items a size large, like t-shirts. I get at least two years per child out of them that way. My daughter never seems to grow any bigger around, so skirts and shorts last forever on her, until modesty requires new ones!

  • Heather says:

    My mother-in-law was a famous clearance rack shopper. One tale about her I love:
    She found a great deal on a t-shirt for a teenage boy that she was going to give as a gift. Luckily, her daughters saw it ahead of time and informed her that the nice leaf on the front was actually marajuana!

  • Kristen says:

    I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley! Just had to comment, I was excited when I saw that at the bottom of the post 🙂

  • Squirrelers says:

    Wow those are some good deals. I’ve had luck at Old Navy in the past as well, with clearance items. For example, I got a nice T-shirt there for 97 cents a few years back, and some others for less than $2 as well.

    I have a friend that wants to try to buy no more shirts/pants until retirement, which at least 15 years from now. I think he’s nuts, but maybe if he gets bargains like this he could keep his costs way down for a number of years.

  • FiFi says:

    These are great tips, thanks for sharing! I also am calling it quits as far as purchasing any clothes for summer. Actually, it is kind of a relief to not have to keep up with the Jones’.

    Has anyone ever taking part of a clothing exchange? My friends and I had one not so long ago and its great to get “new clothes” and not have to pay a dime. 🙂

    You can check out my financial adventure here….

  • Danna says:

    My boys are almost 3 and almost 5. I’ve found that by watching Craigslist, I can buy a “lot” of size 3T or 4T or 5T clothing that includes everything my kids for about a year for around $50. This generally has included 7-8 pairs of shorts, 7-8 pairs of pants, 10-12 short and long sleeved shirts, Swim suits, Coats, 7-8 pairs of PJ’s and sometimes shoes. I’ve done this since my oldest was 18 months old. Since my kids are both the same gender and were born at the same time of year, I’ve been able to pass clothes down from older to younger on almost everything. So my $50 a year ends up clothing 2 kids for a year.

    Most of the clothes that I’ve purchased on Craigslist have been in like new condidtion and have been brand names that I would have NEVER EVER paid retail for (Gap kids, Gymboree, Old Navy, Children’s Place, Nordsrom)

  • Wendy says:

    I think she does have a point about having fewer outfits. My 12 year old got lots of hand me downs and has probably 40 shirts in his drawer (that’s after we gave a bag full away.) He wears the same 3 every day. I’m so tired of looking at the same old shirts, but it’s what he likes.

  • Wanita says:

    I highly recommend Freecycle. I have gotten a lot of clothes for myself and for our children. When they were younger, we were blessed with a lot of hand-me-downs from friends and family, and still get that occasionally. I have gotten quite a bit from Freecycle and the older kids (19, 17 & 14) are now buying a lot of their own clothes. They are quite frugal and have found some very good deals. Our oldest just found a very nice pair of Docker Top-Siders at the Salvation Army Store for $3.99. They retail for about $75 – $85, so he was quite pleased!

  • Rhonda R. says:

    Definitely put a request on Freecycle. People who may normally just pitch children’s clothing may offer you bags full. The most you will have in it is gas to pick it up.

  • Rachelle says:

    I’ve been doing something like this since my daughter was born and she’s now 7. We shop all year round in the discount and sale racks for clothing to fill the gaps in her current wardrobe and next years sizing. Right now I have a medium sized uhaul box full of size 7 clothing that she will get on her birthday. It’s been a birthday gift every year to get a whole new wardrobe because she has been growing into her new size the same month of her birthday since she turned 3. I think in her box There is maybe about $75 I’ve spent on clothes but there’s easily $500 worth of clothing because of the deals I’ve gotten. Usually the only stuff we don’t buy on sale is undies, socks and unexpected special occassions (like the wedding we’re attending on the 24th)

  • julie says:

    I garage sale all the time. It’s amazing how I get name brand clothes for $1!! I have 4 boys and I can’t imagine paying more than $4 for a really nice (and often brand new, with tags) outfit. I save hundreds of dollars a year by buying someone elses stuff they no longer have a need for – and it’s ALWAYS nice stuff from clothes to furniture. Praise the Lord! =))

  • Jessica says:

    I’ve liked reading all the posts over the last few weeks about how other families buy clothes…it’s very interesting. I occasionally shop clearance but am blessed to live in an area where we have an excellent kids consignment sale twice a year. The advantage to the consignment sale is that I get stain free, quality clothes for as cheap $1 or so….even cheaper on 1/2 price day. For the last few sales I have been consigning outgrown clothes and the money I make through consignment pretty much makes the clothes I bought at the sale free! If you have never been to a consignment sale or don’t know if your city has one it is worth looking into.

  • Tricia says:

    I have an 11 year old boy that wears out the knees in his pants faster than I can buy them. This summer I informed him he will be wearing shorts all summer long. I will be scouting out pants for him all summer long for school. It will be a challenge because I think all boys that age are hard on clothes. I might have to buy new ones on clearance if I can find them.

  • Susan says:

    I can help. If you wanted to send me an address I could send some gently used hand me downs I am clearing out of closets right now.
    I’d be happy to do this.

  • Jessica says:

    Like a lot of the posts, my nephew used to wear out his pants long before he outgrew them. My sister signed up for Sears Kidvantage program (a free program) and even though she sometimes spends a little more for the pants when she initially buys them, she saves money in the long run by being able to replace the pants for free! It has even worked on pants she got on clearance 🙂

  • Heather says:

    This will probably sound strange but I actually made money from my youngest two boy’s clothing. Now mind you that I bought very high end clothing that was DEEPLY discounted at the end of the season at Macys, Nordstrom Rack, and Off Fifth. My boys would wear the clothing for a season. I would turn around and sell their gently used clothing on ebay a year later and make money. Yes – the clothing actually sold for more then what I paid for it deeply discounted. In turn, I would use the money from ebay to buy them new clothing for the next season (and stash away the profit – the extra money I made – into their college savings accounts) I miss those days!

    On the bright side – as your children get older you will find that they can still fit into tops and jackets the next season – sometimes even three years – so that saves a lot of money! 🙂

  • Michelle B says:

    My daughter is a size 4T – 5T and we have VERY generous friends that provide us with bags & bags of hand-me downs. Please let me know if I could send you some summer clothes for either girl! Email me at

  • Jan says:

    I proudly wore my $2.64 Vera Wang dress from Kohl’s for an event last week!

  • courtney says:

    We are so blessed to have a children’s consignment store nearby that has a sale once a month where everything is a quarter!! It is usually items that are brought in and are out of season, overstocked, or missing a button or lace. We have to be willing to fight the crowds and dig through piles…but I can come out with a huge bag of clothes for only a few dollars! I find the highest quality items that I can and set them aside in labeled boxes to have ready for changing seasons and growing kiddos. Last week I found an almost new pair of See Kai Run shoes for my daughter:) yay!

  • mildred lane says:

    I find that Church garage sales are the best because you can bargin w/ them. Also if you have some friends that have children a size larger than yours -maybe you can swap.
    A lot is being made of t shirts. Cut across under the arms, fold over 1-2″ and sew for waist band , leaveing an opening to insert elastic. You already have the hem.It’s done. Or the same thing as above etc but use another t shirt that fits the child,cut it off at child’s waist(leaving a seam allowance)then sew to bottom t shirt w/ gathering bottom equals.,new dress.You can cut out the sleeves and hem. Have fun…..

  • Kathryn says:

    I’m really surprised, on a website like this, not to see more people advocating buying secondhand clothes (e.g., garage sales, thrift stores, consignment sales). By buying about 90% of our clothes secondhand, I’m able to purchase good-quality wardrobes for a family of 3 for around $600/year (that includes anything I have to buy new, like bras for me). This also has the added benefits of insulating our budget from the rising cotton prices and being environmentally friendly. I’m familiar with the argument that it’s just too hard to find good clothes at thrift stores, and I’m sure that’s true in some areas; I’ve heard people say that, though, about the exact same stores where I get great clothes for my family. The difference is that I shop these stores often–I usually pop in to check the racks a few times a month. That seems to be the secret to building a good-quality wardrobe from thrift stores.

  • KimH says:

    I dont buy from Walmart.. but I do shop end of season Clearance sales all the time.. And have for 35 years. Last year I bought most of this summers wardrobe including sandals, flip flops, and bathing suits for pennies on the dollar.. I didnt need as many winter clothes so I saved a bundle there too.

  • Shelley says:

    Remember, some dryers cost $1 per load to run, depending on your utility costs. Drying a load a day would cost $365/year, which could be used instead to buy other needed items. We wash clothes at night, put wet clothes on hangers, and hang them to dry on doors in our family room. In the morning, the clothes are quickly put away.

    • Amanda Y. says:

      We do this too for drying, except socks and underwear as they’re too small/difficult for hangers. Water also costs a lot for some people.

      • Andrea Q says:

        We have a folding metal drying rack that I purchased for about $20 over 10 years ago. I hang our socks on that. When collapsed, it fits under the couch or under a bed. Also, in the camping section of Walmart or Target, they have 25′ “camping clotheslines” for about $2. They come with neat connectors so you don’t have to tie any fancy knots (and they can be easily taken down or moved). I use them outside, but they could be strung on a porch or possibly inside. A package of wooden clothespins costs about $1.

  • mariah says:

    Take it from me, a mom who just dropped about $500 on a few cute summer outfits for my 3 kids. IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Why? because they stain them, you’re constantly controlling them to not get their clothes dirty. You have to spend a lot more money on proper cleaning care. It’s just not worth it, at all. I’m bummed I blew that much money. Although I am a clothes freak, and I LOVE a certain children’s store starting with G and ending with an E, it really still isn’t worth it. My new plan, going to garage sales this summer for my kids’ fall/winter clothes and being thankful and content with what we already have.

  • Kat says:

    My mom always taught me to shop out of season to save the most money. We buy fall and winter clothes in the summer and summer clothes in the winter. The stores are always looking to get rid of things to make room for new seasonal merchandise. My girls are wearing sandals and flip flops that I bought last fall for $1 or $2 on clearance. I always buy myself shoes that way, especially since my feet don’t grow. For the kids I tend to go up a size or two for the next year. I do the same with clothing and Never pay retail.

  • Ashley S says:

    I also stock pile my childrens clothes. Right now, my daughters closet is completely filled with clothes stockpiled from newborn to 3T. The vast majority is hand me downs b/c I never turn down free clothes from anyone. If I receive something I don’t want/need I try to find someone else to give it to or I donate it.

    Also, I love getting the out of season clothes at Walmart when they are clearanced out to $1. Whenever I see these deals I get several outfits for my girls & my friend’s children who live in another state. In return, she does the same for me.

  • Rachel says:

    Two words: garage sale. I was always amazed at all the cute clothes at garage sales for pennies on the dollar – that’s what my kids grew up in.

  • Love the idea and I can do this. I have to because I have 5 children! Thank you so much for sharing.

    FYI: Walmart does their markdowns at the beginning of every month.

  • Mariam says:

    We started the clearance for next yr shopping last Nov. It’s helped us out tremendously. I try to pick up shoes too. I about died when I had to buy everyone shoes for the summer. I’m all for not spending money we don’t have. I also like to buy things you might say can stretch the budget. Like spandex capris. You can buy them big, use them in the spring and they look like pants, than again in the fall only now they look like spandex. lol

  • Patti says:

    I really like the idea of less clothing… after all, that is why we see so much clothing at Goodwill, thrift stores, and yard sales> American people have way too much. I learned this “the hard way” when I was pregnant and only had two dresses. Although I did have more pants and tops, I truly only had a bare bones wardrobe and guess what? I loved it!! It made getting dressed so much easier. Ever since then I have tried to survive on just a few outfits (usually five or six outfits for the week and a couple of Sunday outfits) I only buy clothing I truly love. I wear it until it is in shreds and then I throw it away or use it for rags. I have taught my husband and son to do the same and we are all much happier for it. We live in a 1920’s home and when people ask me about the closet space, I always say, “it really doesn’t matter – we have just enough for what we own.” You may can find tons of clothes for very cheap but if you don’t really need it, it really isn’t saving you a dime.

  • Lonetta says:

    I know this sounds crazy, but I do better hitting the end of season sale at Dillards than I do Wal Mart…I can get sweaters for the next year for 3 dollars or less. Plus we have a Dillards Clearance center and I can really make a haul there. Many times it is cheaper there than it is at even Goodwill..but nothing beats yardsale prices

    • Allison V. says:

      Not crazy at all! I love JCP’s clearance racks, plus they almost always have a $10 off $25 purchase type coupon too! I like it way better than the thrift store because it’s new, it’s clean, and there’s often a choice of sizes. And the sizes are in the right place! (Try searching for size 16 jeans at Goodwill…there’s a million pairs of girls 16 mixed in!)

  • Leighann says:

    We’re skipping out on bathing suits alltogether this year. If the kids want to swim, they can swim in t-shirts and shorts. We don’t have a community pool and we live in a trailer park so we don’t have a private pool, either. My mother in law has a pool at her house, but we might see her once in the next four months (she lives about 5 hours away) and it’s just not worth it to buy bathing suits for one single weekend.

    We’ve got a sprinkler set up for the kids to run around under and they can do that just fine in t-shirt and shorts. I would suggest to skip bathing suits unless you are really planning on doing a lot of swimming and pool time, and even then see if you can just get away with a t-shirt or tank top and shorts. Bathing suits are generally pretty expensive and such a one-time type of clothing that you don’t need to spend much on them.

  • Allison V. says:

    Good job, Danielle! That’s my kind of shopping. I got two pairs of leggings for myself for $1 each from the clearance rack at Walmart today – an item I would just never buy normally!

    I haven’t had to buy hardly any clothes for my kids because we’ve been blessed over-abundantly with hand-me-downs, even socks and underwear! It’s awesome!

  • Jennifer Eagle says:

    Danielle, wow congrats on the post! Great idea. We miss seeing and hearing from you guys.

  • shelly says:

    I have been shopping at a local thrift store that offers 50% off your entire order coupons. I usually pay no more than $1.50 for jeans and shorts and less than a dollar for shirts. I found a brand new fleece lined brand name hoodie jacket for $2.00 with my coupon ( the exact jacket was in one of my sons skateboard catalogs for $67.00 ) . Granted we don’t need it now bit he’s got it for next winter.

  • Michele says:

    We host a clothing exchange once a year. It’s fabulous. Everyone brings their old clothes, & takes anything they could use. We have piles & piles of wonderful clothes here. Everyone takes home a lot, & then we have a bunch leftover to donate to charity too. It takes me far less time than going constantly to sales (not that I don’t keep my eye out while I’m shopping), & I get most of our clothes that way. Some very nice things.

  • Carrie says:

    Since I’m pretty much in the same place as Danielle, though mine’s due to unemployment, not bankruptcy, I have found a store called “Savers” (I think it’s called “Value Village” in other parts of the country), and it has been a truly saved to me 🙂

    We don’t live in a big yard sale/thrift/consignment store area (Long Island, NY), so I never learned how to shop thrift, but since I found Savers, I can honestly say that I will rarely if ever, shop regular racks again. We’re a family of five, three boys ages 16, 13 and two. My husband works outdoors year round and destroys his clothes monthly. At savers I can find him the same pants he’d buy new at WalMart for $20, for $3-$5. My 16 year-old isn’t thrilled with shopping thrift, so he’s a different story and I am simply teaching him to shop clearance online. My 13 year-old though, loves the hunt, and I haven’t spent more the $3 on an item for my little guy, including a Janie and Jack winter coat, new with tags! I’m also struggling with the thrift aspect for myself, but since I’m unemployed, I haven’t bought myself much new in the past two years anyway (I’m working on my outlook…).

    Needless to say, if the only new we need ends up being socks, underwear and shoes, we should be okay. I have stockpiled for my little guy, but as others have mentioned, the teens are hard (and my 16 year-old has a size 15 shoe, so no bargains for him – grr). I still need to find decent 4T pants, sweaters and sweatshirts for Bubba, but believe I should be able to before the fall weather hits. I honestly believe that someone was looking out for me the day I first drove past Savers and now I like to share about it with all my friends 🙂

  • Amanda Y. says:

    I’m really curious if you have free well water and cheap electricity to think that doing so many more loads of laundry is cheaper than a few extra cheap thrift store outfits?? Here, our water is very expensive and so we are very careful about how often and what we wash because of that…

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Amanda!

      Water is included in our rent and we do one load of laundry each day anyway.

      • B says:

        That’s an awesome deal. Like the other poster said our water & especially the electric are sooooo pricy! I try to use as little possible as I can.

  • kristie says:

    I have a consignment store in my town, so the clothes I don’t sell at JBF and my “old” clothes are consigned. Consignment stores always have tag sales for 50% off or dollar I stock up on clothes for my children or buy the super cheap (but great brands) clothes to resell at JBF for 3x what I bought them for!! It is nice to go in the consignment store and already have money on my account to pay for the clothes I am getting! Check to see if you have a JBF or lollipop consignment sale near you twice a yr., it has been a great source of income for me. I have made over $900 dollars in the two sales I have participated in and almost all the clothes I consigned were from the thrift store to begin with!! I am the thrift store queen!!! When we are on vacation, hubby asks me what I want to do..I say every time, “find me the local thrift store (goodwill, salavtion army, DAV, whatever!!). Clearance racks, thrift stores, and craigslist are my favorite places to shop!!!!

  • Rebecca says:

    Oh! Im so jealous of everyone that are able to receive hand downs! My youngest is covered since she gets all of her older sisters clothing and usually we do pretty good about end of the season clearance. Apparently, I forgot to stock ip last fall though so im not sure what we are going to do this year!

  • mia says:

    Hey there, Stocking up on clothes is such a relief!!! I have four children ages 2-6 and I keep a tote full of the next size or two up for each of them. Our oldest boy and girl are the hardest to buy for but whatever we have left over from them we save for the the younger boy and girl. I sometimes find a steal of a deal and buy ahead or my friends and I trade clothes when our kids are done and that saves us all a ton of money. We do not have a basement or attic so this is a challenge, but the money we save is a huge blessing and it helps me to really think about what we need and what is excess.

  • Sam says:

    I have read every comment on this page. We are expecting our first baby this Sep last week or Oct first week of 2011. You all have given some nice tips on buying clothes.

    Can someone give me how many clothes like sleepers, play clothes or dress up clothes etc( breakdown) do I need to buy for a baby 0-3/3-6/6-9/9-12 months? How can know how much to stockpile for future? What are the best places to buy baby and kids clothes and what is the best time to buy? How much can I budget for each piece of clothing to know thats the best deal?

    Recently at Macys I saw kids clothes for 6$ for short with shirt pair. Should I think its a good deal? Thank you for patiently reading. I would greatly appreciate your responses. It looks like the fact of the clothing cost is coming to reality for me now.

    • flutemom says:

      this is a situation that might be different for different people, so i’ll just share my experiences. the number of outfits will be partly determined by how often you will wash the clothes you have. all my life i have washed either two or three times a week. for babies, about 6-8 outfits can get you through 2 or 3 days, depending if you have a baby who spits up a lot, or diapers that leak or not. my girls all grew slowly, so i got lots of wear out of each of the baby sizes. for us, it kind of worked out that they wore the size that matched their age (when they were 6 months, they wore size 6 mth clothing). some consignment shops have good deals on good used baby clothing. i always check clearance racks (buying now for 2 granddaughters). i have a friend who clothed her children with clothes from the dollar store (if you have a good selection there….). depending how quickly your baby grows, you may even skip a size, and not all 3 month size is the same (or any other size for that matter). at any one time, i could be putting some 0-3 or 3-6 on my newborn, or 6 mth on my 1 yr old….. yard sales are a great place to shop for baby clothes (watch for stains that may not wash out, though). freecycle or craigslist often has baby clothes listed. see if you could find some other mothers with a baby about a year older than yours who are looking to hand stuff down(because you’ll need to consider the seasonal aspect of baby’s clothing; you’d want someone else who had a baby last year at this season so the clothes are for the right season). hope that info is helpful to you. congratulations on the upcoming birth of your precious little baby!!

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Sam!

      Crystal actually did a WONDERFUL series of posts on “Having a Baby Without Breaking the Bank”. Here’s the link to the collection- it’s right here on her site.

      And here’s the article where she shares her viewpoint on planning for baby’s clothing needs:

      I think you’ll find all the info in those articles very helpful!

      • Sam says:

        Thanks so much flutemom and Danielle for your responses.

        Danielle, I will check those posts. Thanks for the links.

  • Andrea Q says:

    Summer hasn’t even officially started and Target already has swimsuits on clearance! I got a girls bathing suit for $3.24 last week.

  • Tracy says:

    When my daughter was between the ages of 2 & 4, every item of clothing she possessed, including shoes, socks and undies, fitted into one narrow closet shelf!

    Something that I know now: laundry was far simpler and not nearly as much work!

  • B says:

    That’s how I always shop, off season. I have found the best value to be Goodwill and ebay. My Goodwill has $1.00 rack (that rotates every 2 weeks) and I have found some great items there. Also, I clean up on Ebay on $.99 items with minimal shipping.
    I am the stylsih trendsetter type, so I can tell you first hand you can find fantasticly cheap styles at these places.

  • Michelle says:

    One thing our family has learned when stockpiling clothing is to have your child try on the clothes in their current size before you buy what they would need for the future. This ensures that they will like it and that the fit isn’t weird. Some clothing runs smaller than others, so having them try it on in their current size will give you an idea of what size you will need to buy.

  • Amy says:

    God Bless your efforts and your family!

  • Tyra says:

    I have always bought my girls clothes the year before on clearence. the best deals I have gotten have been at baby gap and their outlet stores. i bought 2 bags of clothing last summer for $0.48 each item. it helps alot if you have a gapcard that you pay off every month, because you get lots of good deals for having the card, just a few weeks ago it was an extra 40% off clearence, so I bought some outfits for my baby for next summer at $1.48. Old navy does extra 50% off clearence twice a year you can get really good deals there.
    Also belk and sears both do an extra 50% off clearence twice a year also, makes for some great deals.
    Then I sell all their clothes on ebay and usually make at least 4 times what I paid 😀
    I have found a few good deals at walmart and target but not many. I don’t buy from goodwill or consignment because I get them cheaper brand new.

  • Jiya says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’d like to put in a good word for clothing swaps, too, as an alternative to buying new. There’s a moms group in my area that is affiliated with a local church that has a clothing swap twice a year (you don’t have to be a member of the church or the mom’s group to participate in the swap). They always have a tremendous amount of clothing, most in excellent to good condition, and the leftovers are donated to a local women’s shelter. I’ve been able to supply about 75% of my kids’ wardrobes (other than socks, underwear & shoes) from the swap. Plus it’s a great way to clean out all the outgrown clothes from my attic. It’s like hand-me-downs for small families! And I feel better that all their outgrown clothes are going to someone who can use them and not just going to waste (my 6 year old likes to remind me to be kind to Mother Earth).

  • Kaylynn says:

    My family has always gone to garage sales. It has always saved my mom lots of money. She loves going to the neighborhood ones.

  • Lesley says:

    I have 3 daughters (ages 15, 14 and 12) and they love to shop for bargains. They know to go right to the clearance rack in any store we go to. They like to shop at a teen consignment store called Plato’s Closet. They are in many states, so check their website to see if there is one near you. They carry all the trendy brands that teens can be into, but at a fraction of the cost. They will also buy your gently used items making your shopping trip free or very low cost. Thought this might help those with teenagers who are getting to that “picky stage”. They have lots of clothes for teenage guys, too.

  • Mo Yarbrough says:

    Our target in North Dallas area had girls jeans 75% off yesterday. Nice to get some back to school clothes early at only 2.48 a pair. I bought 2 pairs of her current size and two pairs the next size up.

  • Julie says:

    I’m fortunate to get a lot of hand-me-downs that are usually enough to get us through the beginning of a season. Shortly into the season, my local kids resale shop usually has a 70% off sale for clothing in that season! It’s a great way for me to get good quality items for my three kids at rock bottom prices. I can shop their current size and future sizes. Garage sales are great too especially in you can get to ones in “high-end” neighborhoods. Sometimes they have clothes with the tags still on.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you to everyone who mentioned about fall and winter clothing being more expensive this next season.

    I got to Goodwill every Thursday for their $1 day and my children have enough clothes that I am in “buy ahead” mode now. We live in Phoenix, so I really think about the need for cold weather clothing, an oversight I usually regret come January!

    So, I made sure that I checked the sweater sections today and was able to pick up some great stuff. We are going to a colder climate in November for a wedding, too, so I’m glad for the reminder to think ahead.

  • Kathy says:

    People, Hit the resale shops in your area or take a roadtrip to the next town and hit their resale shops…(FYI can look up resale and city on the internet to find some) also hit the church rummage sales and local rummage sales in the “well to do” towns in your area. You will find that people who are not too bad off will be happy to barter with you if you are buying and clearing the clutter out of their homes. I spent a total of $15 for all my daughter’s winter clothes (24-36 mos sizes) last winter and spent about the same for this summer minus a pair of disney princess sandals that she really really wanted so I gave her those for her birthday. Some churches will even organize clothing swaps where people bring their clothes to swap for other’s clothes. You can actually pay nothing for new clothes at a swap. I have gotten lots of jeans that way since our ladie’s sizes fluctuate so much and we have the tendancy to toss jeans that are too small but still new. Just a few suggestions for those struggling. New is not always the better way to go.

  • Jennifer T. says:

    I manage to get my children’s entire wardrobe for the next year at these types of prices. I don’t like to pay full price for any of my girls (2 & 3 1/2) clothes because I know that sometime there will be a sale and most of the places I shop at have discounts to use on top of the sales. I do go very often at these times of year because if you are able to shop in the middle of the week you can catch the clearance when they are first priced and not too picked over. Happy shopping!

  • Sherri says:

    Danielle, You are amazing! I emailed you!

    • Danielle says:

      Hi there Sherri! I just wanted to let you know I didn’t get your email, just so you wouldn’t think I was ignoring you. 🙂 I’d be happy to hear from you!

  • Nicole says:

    another tip that I didnt see mentioned, though I didnt make it all the way down the comments LOL, is jumpers for little girls. Both my girls wore jumpers a LOT when they was little. They could wear them with long sleeves & tights under them in the winter, short sleeves in the spring & as a sundress in the summer. I picked up the shirts at garage sales in the summer for .10 & .25 each & because they was going to be worn under jumpers it was ok if there was a small stain on the front of it cuz it was hidden by the jumper anyway. Made for a very versatile wardrobe that could go thru all the seasons with very little expense

  • Anna says:

    I shop clearance sales, second hand clothing stores, and hand me downs for kids. I buy ahead all the time for my kids. BUT does anyone sew their own clothes out there? I sew my kids clothes as well. I can go to Walmart or another place and get some cute material cheap and sew anything my kids want. I also make all of their hats, gloves, scarves by knitting and crocheting. Someone gave me 3 large boxes of yarn and I made afghans, scarves, hats, gloves, and anything else I could. I make as many things as I can that the kids need as far as clothing.

    I get $10/$10 purchase from Kohl’s on a regular basis. I got 3 this month. I got 2 tops and a undergarment for myself for in the fall OOP $0 using one coupon (2 to go). I will make a skirt or pants to go with them for not too much. I have to lose weight for health reasons so I am keeping clothes for myself to a minimum–kind of like my growing kids but I am shrinking :).

  • Elise Davis-Chavez says:

    I have been doing the same thing for years, and at first my husband thought i was crazy having all these extra clothes for the kids when we didn’t even need them, but when fall and winter rolled around I’d just pull out those clothes and I had no need to buy any. Plus I love a good sale, just take an extra $10 bucks if you have it and every time you go to a store check there sale section. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

  • Neysa says:

    I appreciate the ideas, however buying ahead of season for my daughter is actually a waste of money as her sizes vary so greatly. The advice suggested in this article were great when she was much younger–but 9 going on 10 it makes it much more challenging.

  • Kara says:

    Danielle, what is your email address? I’d like to email you.

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