As the mom of six kids, buying clothes can be EXPENSIVE! I love finding and buying not only cute, but high-quality clothes that last, but I’m on a budget…as I’m sure you can all relate. Over the years I’ve figured out how to buy my favorite brand name clothes without breaking the bank. It does take some work and planning, but it’s totally possible. I’m excited to share my strategies list, and hopefully it will help you save some money too! And before we continue–I have absolutely nothing against buying clothes from Walmart, nor am I saying that you shouldn’t. I’m only using it for the purpose of comparing cost, since they are known for their low prices. Everyone has a different budget, but the strategies are the same. These are all things that I do on a regular basis, and they are all very straight forward, but they’ve worked wonders for me!
I have a set parameter for how much I want to spend on certain items (shirts, jeans, dresses, pajamas, etc.), and then I really try to stick to it. I know what I can get them for when sales come around, so I wait until I can get that price. Sometimes I will go over if I LOVE an item so much it’s worth it, but then I try to make up for it on another item.
#1. RARELY pay full price. The times that I don’t follow this is when I’m on an already discounted site (like Amazon, Zulily, etc.), or Etsy, where I’m looking for something specific and want to support small business owners. Even on Etsy, some shops will occasionally offer discounts when you like their Facebook page, or something like that. I will also pay full price occasionally at discount brick & mortar stores, but it’s not often, and I try not to–using coupons, and following their sales. Department stores, though? Not a chance! I always head straight to the sale and clearance racks–eventually all the full-priced items make it there! ☺
#2. ALWAYS search for a coupon code first, whether you’re shopping online or in-store. It’s amazing what you can find when you do a quick search online for pretty much any major retailer. It might take a few minutes, but it’s totally worth it. I would say at least 50% of the time I find a code, and it’s probably even more often than that.
#3. Buy a season ahead! When possible, buying a season ahead will save you A TON!! This is where I will save THE MOST money. I start from the time they’re babies, and I have a special place in my house for all the “season ahead” clothes. I know my kids’ growth pattern, and if I’m not sure, I’ll estimate on the larger side. It’s never failed me! I seriously stock up at the after season sales, and buy for the next year. Cargo shorts for a couple of dollars, polo shirts for less than $4, coats for less than $20, and the list goes on and on. I pay a fraction of the cost that I would have, even during the sales. I’ve even bought as much as two years down the road, when I get a good price. For example, last year, when my baby was a newborn, I found the MOST darling trouser jeans online at the Gap for only $3!! It was a super sale, with percentage off of their regular clearance prices, and so I snatched up three pairs, in three different sizes. I knew she would wear them at some point, and for adorable, high-quality jeans, it was a STEAL, and worth buying right then. If you do buy a season ahead, it’s important to mark down what you’ve bought, so you don’t forget later, and buy something similar, or something you don’t need.
#4. Shop the outlets! I love shopping at the outlets, but not all stores there are true outlet stores. Some of them have pretty much the same prices as their regular stores, and even with their sales, it’s not worth the prices. I still wait for sales at the outlets to do most of my shopping there. The Gap Outlet, which is one of my favorites for kids’ clothes, usually offers 40% off the whole store on several occasions throughout the year, and I take advantage of it and stock up! Be careful–it’s easy to get caught up in “it’s an outlet”, and pay more than you have to or need to, but you can get great prices there too.
#5. Shop online. Compare prices to the brick & mortar store before you buy! I love Target, but often times I’ll get better deal online than I do in the store when it comes to kids’ clothes. Several times a year they’ve offered 20% off your kids’ clothing purchase (one of them is usually before school starts), plus free shipping if you spend over $50. That’s not happening in their stores! Plus, there is almost always a better selection, and in my two sets of twins matching world, it’s way better. ☺ I can get more sizes, more colors, and with the better prices, it’s a win-win-win. It’s not the only store that will have separate sales and lower prices online than in the stores–Old Navy, Gap, and several other children’s stores that I shop at are the same way. Be sure to check the return policy for easy returns first! I probably shop 80% online, and 20% in-store–it’s just so much easier for me, I get better deals, and better selection.
#6. Ask for a price adjustment. How frustrating is it when you buy something, and then the VERY next day, it goes on sale, or on an even better sale? Stores like Old Navy and Gap (and others too–check with your favorites) will do price adjustments within one week of your purchase, and I can’t tell you how much this has saved me! Just a month or two ago I bought something things for 20% off, and two days later, it went up to 35% off. I called, and they gave me the adjustment. Super easy, and it saved me even more.
#7. Maintain a “needs” list, and shop from that list. Each season I make a new list for each child, with the things that they need, including sizes. It includes everything from shoes to coats to dresses to pajamas (and everything in between), and as I purchase and cross things off, it helps me stay on budget and not overbuy. When I’m done, I’m done. I usually buy in “chunks”, rather than all spread out, because I almost always spend less money that way. When I evaluate their closets each season, and make my list, then I know exactly what I need, and I can start looking for the best deals. Certainly there are times when someone grows out of something or an item gets ruined and I need to go replace it, but for the most part I shop each twice a year–for spring/summer and fall/winter.
#8. Watch the amount of clothes you buy–you don’t always need as many as you think! I learned my lesson with this a few years ago, when I ended up buying too many clothes for my girls when they were little. I think I was just so excited to have two little girls, and I went overboard. I got good deals on all of it, but when you buy too much, even on sale, it’s not going to save you money. They ended up not wearing all of it, and some dresses they only wore once before they grew out of them. It made me so mad, and I decided then and there I wouldn’t do that again.
#9. Spend less on mostly basic pieces, and spend a little more on a few really nice pieces that will mix and match. I’m talking leggings, tee shirts, and things like that that can be work with or under just about anything. I’ve found that for the most part, leggings are leggings, and my girls go through them quickly no matter what, so I would much rather spend $5 than $10 or $15 for a pair, and spend the money I saved on a super cute sweater or dress for them. My mom also taught me to not buy anything unless it went with three other items in my closet, and I try and do this as much as I can with my kids too. I spend less for more outfits–mix and match is the way to go!
#10. Sign up for newsletters, alerts, and coupons from your favorite stores. I know, I know–it can clog up your inbox, but when it saves me money, I’m totally okay with it. I check my e-mail every morning, clean out all the junk, and file the coupons and and sales flyers in my coupon folder. I like knowing when sales are coming, when to take advantage of low prices, and then compare it to what I need.
#11. Scout thrift shops, secondhand stores, and garage sales. You can find some really great things at secondhand stores, for great prices. Be picky–look for slightly used, high-quality clothes, and you’ll still be getting a bargain. The Goodwill I shopped at in Michigan would receive Target’s brand-new overstock clothes and home goods, so I could go there and shop their Target racks for secondhand prices! I don’t use this option as much as the others, but I do like to go in every once in awhile, and see what I can find.
#12. Wait for sales. Do your best not to be a desperate shopper…you will always spend more. By making your list, knowing what you need, then waiting for the sales, you will save a lot. Often times I’ll check out sites, add things to my shopping cart here and there, then wait for the sale to come along. Then I already know what I want, I checkout fast, and I’ve gotten a good price. Sure, there are times when I have to go buy something without waiting for a specific sale, but then I do some of the things I’ve listed above to help me get the best possible price. Sales rotate through cycles, so they’re sure to come around again.
#13. Compare prices. Some of the same basic items can be vastly different prices from store-to-store, and it’s definitely worth checking around to see whose got the best price.
#14. Buy play clothes and “nicer” clothes. My kids LOVE to play outside, but they can do some damage to their clothes. Dirt, mud, tears, stains, and smoke/ash from our firepit when we have that going. I refuse to send my kids out in their nicer clothes (for school, etc.) to ruin them, or make their life shorter. So, I look for inexpensive shorts, tees, etc. for outside wear, and then I don’t care what happens to them. Okay, I do care, but I’m not as upset about the cost, or ruining something nice. They don’t worry either, and it ends up saving me money in the long run.
#15. Sell the clothes when you’re finished with them! If you’re not using them for hand-me downs, you may want to consider selling them to a consignment shop or secondhand store that buys name brand clothes. I’ve sold quite a few clothing items, and put all the proceeds toward buying new ones.
I thought I would also list some of my favorite places to shop for kid’s clothes…