How to Save Money on New Clothes for Kids
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There they go again ...
Your kids just outgrew their clothes, didn't they?
And it's only been like two months since you bought their last pair of jeans, am I right? (Or close?)
It's kind of not fair. I think the last time I bought myself new clothes was like 10 years ago!
Clothes can be expensive, and kids grow out of them quickly.
An obvious solution to save money on kids clothes would be to buy used clothes at a thrift store.
There are some pros and cons to buying at a thrift store, so you may want to buy new clothes for your kids. Sometimes cheap kids clothes are ... well, cheap.
When Thrift Stores May Not Be a Good Option
I’m not opposed to thrift stores at all. They provide a great service to giving new life to used clothing and help families save money. I also like the thought that I can donate my kids old clothes to families that can use them.
However, sometimes thrift stores just don't give you all the options you might need. Here are some times when you might want to avoid cheap kids clothes at thrift stores.
Do you have a good thrift store in your area? Not everyone has a good thrift store. Some are very small and don’t have much selection for size and styles.
Even if there is a thrift store, it doesn’t mean you’ll find good clothes. I’ve been in thrift stores that accept anything including clothes with holes and stains. They also carry hideous styles that no one has worn in 40 years. I’m not looking for “fixer-upper” clothes. If I need to save money on kids clothes, I want them to be worn right away without patching them up.
Will the clothes you buy last very long? I tend to avoid pants that are starting to look white in the knees. That’s a telltale sign that they are about to wear through. You won’t be saving much money if the clothes you just bought only last two months.
Believe it or not, thrift stores don’t always have fantastic prices. Some will, but I have found brand new clothes for prices as low as the thrift store. The bonus of this is the clothes will likely last longer so you won’t need to replace them as soon.
Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Following the latest fashion trends is NOT what I’m talking about here. If you’re on a budget, do the best you can to provide what clothes your child needs, not wants.
That said, try not to scrimp so much that your child is embarrassed by the clothes they must wear. I want my kids to be confident and feel good about themselves. What they wear can influence their self-esteem.
My kids aren’t at the front of the fashion train, but they aren’t at the back either.
How to Save Money on Kids Clothes
Set a budget and use cash
I'm a huge advocate for using cash whenever you walk into a store.
This requires you to pay attention to how much you are spending. When the money is gone, stop spending!
Plan to buy clothes before you need them
You’ll likely end up paying full price if you get caught off guard. Don't wait so long that your kid starts wearing flood pants and they urgently need new ones.
When you see a good sale, it’s time to buy the next size up and stash the clothes away. If you do this, you can avoid paying full price for clothes ever again.
Don't buy clothes too far in advance
Case study 1: The Curve Ball
My daughter has always been pretty consistent in her growth, until this year of course. I thought she'd be set for the rest of the season and am finding she's hit a major growth spurt so now I'm planning the next size up before I'm ready.
If you've purchased too many clothes for next season, they can all be made worthless if your child outgrows them before they can use them.
Case study 2: The Big Kid
My son is a tank. (I mean that in a loving way.)
He was born at a whopping 10 and a half pounds! (I accept your sympathy, it was as bad as it sounds!)
He's never let up on being a big kid. I can't keep up with his growth, so I try not to buy too far in advance for him or he'll outgrow the clothes before he can use them.
What to do instead: If you buy more than one season in advance, make sure it is at least one size larger. It's better to have them grow into their clothes than never use them!
Wait for the sales
You need to understand when sales will happen and which sales will get you the lowest prices. An effortless way to track sales is to sign up for email lists of your favorite stores.
Most stores will offer an incentive to join their list, like a discount on your next purchase. If you time it right, you can get an extra discount during a sale and save even more money.
To keep your inbox in check, organize folders for each store you’re following. Set rules in your inbox to automatically send the emails to those folders. Only check the folders when you are getting ready to buy clothes.
*If you have a shopping addiction and can’t resist sales you may not want to follow sales too closely! Just remember, a sale WILL come back around, so you really aren’t missing it if you pass most of the time.
Split up times when you buy clothes
Separate your purchases by a few weeks or more.
This will allow time for new store incentives to kick in and will replenish your clothing budget if you only take a little money out each paycheck.
Stores like to offer incentives for you to come back and shop again.
Something that’s popular these days is to offer a store credit voucher (like Kohl's Cash or Place Cash). You’ll get the voucher after making a required purchase and then can come back later to redeem the voucher.
Example 1: Get a $10 voucher when you spend $50.
Example 2: Spend $20, get a voucher for $10 on your next purchase of $20 or more.
If you receive an offer like this, plan what you’ll buy now and what you will save to buy on the next trip.
This isn’t license to overspend your budget! Stick to your plan of what your kids need, just buy the clothes in two trips.
When you return to the store to redeem your voucher, keep your purchase as close to the required minimum purchase as possible. This will get you the greatest percentage of savings on your purchase.
In our example above, if you need to spend $20 to redeem the $10 voucher, you’ll save 50% if you keep it as close to $20 as possible. The more you go over $20, the less your savings is.
Stores don’t typically run good sales during the period of time when vouchers can be redeemed.
Check for price match and adjustment policies
Some stores will allow you to price match to their own online price. If you’re in a time pinch and can’t wait for the item to be shipped, see if the store will honor the online price (assuming it's a better price).
Stores may also allow for a price adjustment if their price drops within a few days of your purchase. If you notice this, check to see if they will adjust down to the new lower price.
Use extreme caution using store cards
Most stores will give extra incentives when you shop using the store card.
Do you know why they do this?
Because they know they’ll come out on top. Most people will continue to make the minimum payment on their card and cancel out the savings they got by using their card.
Trust me, the stores would NOT use this method if it didn’t turn out in their favor.
I think every single person I've ever talked to swears they pay off their credit card every month. It can't possibly always be true, otherwise stores and credit card companies would go out of business! Somewhere in there they do it because they make extra money. After all, they aren't a charity giving out of the goodness of their heart. They are there to make money.
I recommend NEVER using store credit cards because the charges can pile up quickly and you’re likely to overspend.
Related Article: Why I Never Use Credit Cards, And You Shouldn't Either
If you insist on using a store card, only do so if you can and will pay the balance in full as soon as the charge is made. Go home and pay off the balance that day! Even waiting and paying it monthly can mean slipping on your payment and losing all of your extra savings.
Save Money on Kids Clothes when Shopping Online
Shopping online is my favorite! I don’t often have time (or patience) to go into the store. These are my favorite ways to shop online. There can also be some fun clothes that are only available online.
Wait for free shipping
I have never paid for shipping on my kids’ clothes, and I don’t plan on ever paying it. A few times a year I’ll see 60% off sales with free shipping. These are my favorite sales. When free shipping comes around with a sale it's a great time to buy online.
Use online rebate and discount programs
There are widgets that you can install on your browser that can help you save a few extra bucks.
Ebates – Sign up for Ebates and search for your store through ebates and you’ll earn cash back rewards for the purchase you make online. Ebates will let you know what percentage of cash back is available for your store.
If you haven’t signed up for Ebates yet, use this link and you’ll get a $10 bonus with your first qualifying purchase.
Honey – This little browser extention has some amazingly fun features. If you are shopping on Amazon it has a “best price detection”. It’ll notify you if the product you are looking at is the best price or if you can find it for a better price. You can also add an item to a "Drop List" and Honey will notify you when the price drops.
For online store, Honey will search for online coupon codes and automatically apply the best available one to your cart at checkout. (I was shopping online at The Children’s Place and Honey automatically recognized there were coupon codes available. It searched and applied the best one for me. It was amazing!)
Honey will also find cash back rebates and apply it to your account. If you’re shopping online, you seriously need to install the Honey browser extension!
(Unfortunately it does not work on tablets or mobile devices at the moment.)
Buy discounted gift cards for your favorite stores
Get automatic savings by first purchasing a discounted gift card for your favorite stores. If you have gift cards you know you won't use you can also sell them or switch them out for one you will use.
Here are a few places you can check for discounted gift cards:
Maximum online savings combo
Sale + Free Shipping + Ebates/Honey + Discounted Gift Card = Boo-yeah! Awesome savings!
Now go out and try some of these and let me know how it goes. Do you have any more savings tips? Leave them in the comments below!