Frugal Families: Clothing Your Kids For Less
Frugal Families: Clothing Your Kids For Less
Frugal families use several tips and techniques to keep their kids stylishly dressed without breaking their budgets.
1) School and play clothes. My boys play hard outside. They are dirt magnets and we joke that their play jeans are "blessed" (holey versus holy). I insist they change into their 'play' clothes when they get home from school and decide to go outside. Play clothes are any article of clothing that has seen better days, is still serviceable but isn't acceptable for most things outside of the backyard. Whereas, school clothes are meant for school and/or other events and locations that I want them to appear with clean, unstained and publicly presentable attire. We save a lot of money by making sure we don't have to go out and replace good clothing that they destroyed in backyard play.
2) Clothing bins for future wears. We have bins for clothing in the attic. The bins are labeled by the size of the clothing inside. We have three boys so I know the clothing is all for the same sex but if you have girls and boys, you might want to label them along the lines of "girls size 8" and "boys size 10". I don't bother to sort clothes by seasons, just sizes. This makes it easy to find replacement clothing as the children outgrow what they have. If my 14 year old outgrows something, the hand-me-downs go into the proper sized bin for the other two kids and we 'shop' in the next sized bin (see next paragraph).
I also keep clothing bins for larger sized clothing I have either been given or have found at tag sales, thrift-stores or killer department store sales. One year I found season-end deals on coats and shirts that I couldn't pass up (Columbia winter coats marked down nearly 80%. I bought four of them based on anticipated growth for the next two winters and then stored them in the larger sized bins). Don't pass up fantastic deals simply because, "My child isn't that big yet." I guarantee you that your child will be that size when you can't find anything at a great price and in the long run, you'll spend more.
If you don't have room for bins, do give up! Store clothes in bags under beds, in the bottom of closets (or tops of closets), under the couch or "in plain sight" in a chest designed to look like a table. Whatever you can store today for later is like putting money in the bank and if you were trying to find places to store cash, you'd get creative.
3) Never refuse hand-me-downs or pass-along clothes. I have several friends who have an older boy and a younger girl. They know they can pass along their boy clothes to me. I sort through the clothes and place them in the appropriately sized bin so we can 'shop' for clothes down the road (if no one is currently in that size or we're in the wrong season). Sometimes the clothes have seen better days and then they become camping/play clothes. Sometimes I know that there will be clothing that the kids can't or won't wear but are still great. I'll either ask if they should be returned or if it's okay to pass them on or donate. The other thing is that so many kids grow so quickly that they outgrow clothing before they outwear the clothing. Some pass-along or hand-me-downs look nearly as good as when they were bought!
4) Take care of the clothing. This is especially true if you have more than one child or plan to have more. Take care to pre-treat spots (fels naptha soap is a great laundry bar that gets out serious dirt and there are other commercial spot treaters), launder clothing according to it's label so it's not ruined and store it properly so you'll have them for your other children. Make sure you store clothing in clean bins that will keep out bugs and rodents and moisture.
5) Shopping the deals. This goes backs and touches upon the idea presented with the bins. I always keep an eye out for great deals on our children's clothing. With three boys, I always know that sooner or later, a boy will fit into some size. When they were younger, I could even get great deals on sneakers by watching for sales (brand-name high-quality children shoes for less than $10/pair sometimes) and stashing the sneakers in the shoe bin for later use as they outgrew their current pairs.
I shop season-end clearance sales and always peruse the 80% off racks when I'm in a store. Two of my boys have a preference for certain clothing and even with that, I have never paid over $7.00 for their shirts. We were at some outlet stores last winter and the sock/underwear outlet had a sale on socks, buy two packages of socks and get one free. That was a savings of about $9. I stocked up and bought ahead on sizes knowing that I wasn't always at the outlet and I never managed to find sock sales. It also saved me the time and gas of running out and doing the 40-mile round-trip to the nearest clothing store when they needed larger socks.
I always shop all of the sizes at the thrift stores. Knowing that my boys are rapidly growing, I usually don't shop just their current sizes. I make sure to check out all of the sizes knowing that I can put any larger sizes into the bins for future needs. Again, brand new jeans, shirts and shoes from the thrift stores have made their way into the bins for a huge savings.
Clothing your children doesn't have to eat up hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year. With a bit of planning, a careful eye when shopping and a bit of storage (even if it's creative storage), you can be a frugal family when it comes to clothing your children for less.
Tammy Paquin is a work from home mom of 3 boys. She is the publisher ofFrugal-Families, a site devoted to frugality, budgeting, families and helping everyone stretch their hard-earned dollars. For other great articles on saving money on baby food, baby clothing and raising kids in general visit,Frugal Parenting Articles.
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