Money & Career

How to get kids' clothes cheap

We’re headed to Florida in a few weeks, so I’ve been digging out my kids’ summer clothes — nothing fits anymore! My daughter is just eighteen months and my son is three — they’re growing like weeds and I’m lucky if their jeans get them through a season.

kids clothes

Getty Images

We’re headed to Florida in a few weeks, so I’ve been digging out my kids’ summer clothes — nothing fits anymore! My daughter is just eighteen months and my son is three — they’re growing like weeds and I’m lucky if their jeans get them through a season. I realize that I’m stating the obvious when I say kids’ clothes are really expensive. It’s hard to justify spending 30 or 40 bucks on a brand new sweater they’re going to wear for six months max. 

For this trip, I figure I can hold off on the shopping until we get to Florida — I’ll hit up the local Target and stock up on shorts and t-shirts that would cost a lot more here in Canada. But since I can’t always border hop, there are a few things I do at home to keep my kids in nice duds without breaking the bank. Here are just a few:
Embrace hand me downs (and keep them organized): I love hand me downs — from my sister to my friends, they’ve kept a steady stream of clothes coming our way. I have never had to buy my daughter a coat (yet). The trick is to take everything that comes your way, even the stuff that’s too big. They will grow into it eventually, but you have to be organized about it so it doesn’t get lost by the time your child is ready to wear it. I have storage containers in both my kids’ rooms that I check regularly — they’re packed with items of clothing other people have given us that we’re not ready to use yet. Opening one of the boxes is like a shopping trip in itself!
Buy off-season: Right now, all those expensive winter items are on sale. Pick up on the deals and get your kids’ fall and winter clothes now — think shoes, boots and coats, which are a lot cheaper to buy off-season. You’ll save big dough and you won’t have to battle the back-to-school crowds next fall. 
Buy second-hand: There are some great second-hand stores near us where you can get deals on kids’ clothes. A good tip is to look for pieces that still have the tags on them — chances are they haven’t been worn (just like new!). 
Yes, girls can wear blue: I sort through my son’s clothes regularly and pick out lots of items for my daughter — jeans, sweaters and pajamas. There’s no rule that says girls have to wear pink all the time — yes, I buy some girlie clothes for my daughter, but a few major staples do come from my son. And when my son was really small I had no problem dressing him up in jeans and sweaters that came from friends with girls (he even wore a pink onesie once that said “Does this diaper make me look fat?”). I’m sure there’s a fine line here somewhere — I leave it up to you to draw it.