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Kids Clothes on a Budget

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August 17, 2012

Kids and their clothes … it seems I’m constantly buying new items. Whether it’s shoes they’ve outgrown, jeans with holes in the knees, stains on their favorite shirt, or a sudden requirement for a social function, it can be tough to keep up.

So how do you meet all the wardrobe demands without breaking the bank? Here are some tips to try to help make shopping, and stocking up, easier and more cost effective.

Saving money doesn’t mean that we have to crimp on style for our kids. Ironically, kids have so much versatility with their wardrobes because they are kids. They can wear robust colors and patterns together and still make it work to their advantage because they are cute with high-energy personalities.

Here are five approaches to finding kids great clothing items for bargain prices, without necessarily sacrificing quality.

Consider Second-Hand Deals

It’s that time when everyone’s prepping for back to school and cleaning out the closets. Ever hear the phrase “what’s one person’s trash is another person’s treasure?”

Checking out local yard, stoop, and garage sales are one way to find good items for decent prices. You’ll be able to find shirts, pants, skirts, and more, for very little money. Seasonal items such as costumes and holiday outfits – and special occasion items such as wedding or christening outfits – tend to be items we might splurge on yet only get worn once or a handful of times. You may be surprised that you can find these wardrobe pieces, sometimes brand new or barely used, for a fraction of retail store prices.

Places like Goodwill Industries and children’s consignment stores are also another way to seek reasonably priced good clothing finds.

Go The Discount Route

Discount retailers like Target, Walmart and Kmart are also great resources for staple items. Stock up on undergarments, solid colored t-shirts and shorts, and items for after-school play.

An important thing to keep in mind as you hunt for bargains is to take note of the fabrics, embellishments, and cleaning care instructions. If a deal seems too good to be true check out the laundry instructions so you don’t end up wasting money on unnecessary dry cleaning costs (this holds true for second-hand items as well).

Further, this process of bargain shopping is hit or miss. Don’t just buy because it’s a good deal. Take your time and decide how many ways in which an item can be used.

Find Clothes With Longer Wear

Kids grow so quickly that it feels like their wardrobes are changing more frequently than the seasons because their bodies are changing so much. Therefore, it’s important to learn about what clothes are best suited for your child’s body and can get the greatest use for the money.

Choosing items with elastic waist bands or Lycra in the fabric have more give and sometimes, often times, last a bit longer.

For example, my daughter is a bit on the tall side, as so many people tell me. I have also realized that leggings, which are stretchy, get a lot of use in her wardrobe. This “gold mine” item not only is thicker than standard tights, looks great on their own, but also pair well with dresses and skirts. And, as dresses and skirts get shorter, and kid’s legs get longer, leggings add to their wearing by turning them into shirt dresses or longer t-shirts.

Layers Are Key

While we don’t want our kids wearing short sleeves in colder temperatures, there are ways to maximize our kid’s wardrobes to get more use out of them – by adding layers. For example, if your child’s short sleeved shirts are something they love, layer them up with either a long sleeved shirt underneath or add a sweatshirt on top. The same holds true for girls and their dresses. I often add long sleeved shirts under short sleeved or sleeveless dresses for extra comfort and warmth.

Dresses and skirts, especially those from 100% cotton can get multiple season use. On their own they are great for warm weather including spring and summer. Layer them with tights or leggings and they can be used into the fall and winter time too.

Borrow, Share, Swap with Friends and Family

Friends and family are an excellent way to secure clothing for little ones who are growing so fast it’s hard to sometimes keep up. It never hurts to ask. You may be pleasantly surprised by people who are willing to share, swap, lend or outright give away their child’s clothes. Of course, do this only if you feel comfortable.

Another idea could be to host a swap event at your house. Invite friends who have children of various ages and encourage them to pack up at least one bag of items to include in the swap. Once all the items are set out by size and category have fun shopping, for free. With some eats and treats to go along with it – a swap meet could be a great social gathering.

Have fun in your future shopping endeavors. What are some of your tips to grab bargains? We look forward to hearing your ideas on how you save too.

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