Monday, April 14, 2014

Buying Children's Clothes on a Budget

Having a little girl, I could easily spend a TON of money clothing her! There are just so many cute outfits out there!

However, the price tags really add up and at this age kids go through clothes so fast. I feel like right after I sort through Leah's clothes and get out one size, she's onto the next! Many items of clothing don't get much use. This seems to be the case with most families, so there is a lot of used clothing out there that is barely worn and super cute.

Since we are *mostly* a one-income family, buying second hand clothing for Leah (and ourselves! But that's a whole other post) just makes sense.

Leah only receives new clothing as gifts from family or friends, for special occasions, for photoshoots (when our family needs to match or I have a specific look in mind for her), or when she really needs a specific staple item of clothing. So far I've only had to buy her something for this reason once, and it was onesies, since she still wears a onesie under every outfit. She loves showing off her belly but I don't want her to get cold! And I worry that her shirt will ride up when I'm carrying her outside and that her bare skin will be exposed.

Our family has been very fortunate in that we received quite a bit of brand new clothing for Leah before she was born or when she was quite young. We've also been blessed to have received bins and bins of hand-me-downs from friends.

If you are like me and want or need to save money, here are some tips for clothing your children on a budget:

1) Ensure that your family and friends know that you are open to hand-me-downs.

If they ask, and you are in need, say yes! Make sure you are clear on whether or not they want the clothes back when you are done. If they don't, make sure you pay it forward when the time comes! Selling clothes that you received for free is not cool. I can't wait to bless other families with Leah's old clothes after we are done having children! Also make sure to thank the person or family who helped you out; let them know how much you appreciate it!

Here are some clothes that have shown up on our doorstep! Such a blessing!

2) Shop mom-to-mom sales

The best selection is always at the beginning of the sale, but I tend to frequent these events near the end. Many Moms are left with tables full of items that they did not intend to take back home, and you can usually work out a good deal.

3) Join Facebook Mom Buy-and-Sell Groups in your area

A caution on this one: it can lead to buying things you don't need! When I see cute clothes come up it can be hard to resist them and then I spend money I didn't intend to.

4) Check kijiji

I haven't bought clothes on kijiji, but I have purchased gear. I know that sometimes parents will sell children's clothing in lots and you can get a whole season's worth of clothes in one shot!

5) Shop second hand stores

My favourites are Goodwill, Snails N Pails and the Salvation Army. I haven't been able to find much at Once Upon a Child, but I know others who love it.

I have purchased a lot of brand name clothing (especially Carters, Osh Kosh, Joe Fresh, Baby Gap and Old Navy) for Leah at these stores for a very small amount of money. It does take more time than shopping at regular stores, but I find mostly the clothing is organized very well. I've had a lot of luck at Goodwill for footwear especially, Leah had 2 pairs of Ugg-style boots this winter that everyone always commented on that were from there. We purchased her like-new waterproof snow boots at the Salvation Army in the fall for $2.

Beyond just shopping second hand, look for sales or upcoming events (yes, they exist!!)
Last weekend Salvation Army had children's clothes on for 5 items for $3. This is a ridiculous deal! A few of the pairs of jeans I got for Leah were regular $3.99 - already super cheap - but regularly 5 pairs would have cost me $20, but I got 5 for only $3. It's worth looking into!

I purchased everything in these photos for only $12! For 20 items!

Aside from being budget-friendly, I also like that second hand clothing is eco-friendly since we are re-using processed materials.

6) Shop sales and clearance

I do browse at children's stores when I get the chance, and will purchase from the clearance or sale section. Usually end-of-season sales are good, and you can shop for the future. The only problem is you need to anticipate what size they'll need, which can be tricky. Thankfully, thus far Leah has pretty much fit into the clothing she is "supposed" to for her age.

I bought her a couple of really cute 18 month and 2T items at Baby Gap when she was just a newborn that she is now able to fit into as a toddler. This will require having storage space, but if you can manage it, it's great. I love opening up the bins for the next size and seeing what cute finds I was able to  get my hands on!

7) If family or friends ask what your children want or need for a birthday or special occasion, tell them! 

If you need specific items of clothing or specific sizes, don't be shy. I know when I shop for others I want to know if there's anything they need. Clothing can be kind of a boring gift, but kids clothes are so cute that anyone would have fun shopping for them!

8) Make your own

In general, I find sewing to be an expensive hobby. But if there's something really specific you want for your child and can get a good deal on fabric and/or repurpose some clothing or fabric, it can be cheaper than buying pre-made.

I thought maybe that Leah would miss out by not having new clothing, but it just hasn't been the case. There are so many options for dressing children well for less out there, and I haven't missed out either. After all, getting to dress her up is a pretty important aspect of having a little girl!

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