Monday, February 29, 2016

5 Money-Saving Tips for Buying Kids Clothes

Children.....they're born naked, and then at around 3 hours old they don their first teeny, tiny wrap-around t-shirt.  And that's when it starts......their constant need for increasingly larger clothing.  What?  You want new jeans to fit your new mama shape?  Sorry.  Baby needs a couple sleepers.  What?  You want a new bra to fit your new mama #%&*?  Sorry.  Baby needs two more sleepers because every night they poop through the first two before midnight.  What?  You want a new dress just because you want one?  Sorry.  Baby needs onesies and socks and rompers and then, oh no!  they just outgrew it all.  And the story continues and continues and continues.  Our oldest is 18 and I can tell you the need for clothes hasn't stopped yet.

What is a mama to do?  She wants to wear comfortable and stylish clothing, yet her children need clothes that fit.  And that's when thrift shops are a godsend.  I've been shopping Goodwill and other thrift/resale stores for years.  Since before my oldest was even born.  I've learned a lot over the years about shopping for previously owned clothing and I'd like to share my tips with you.  

I'm going to focus on buying kids clothes, however most of these tips work for adult clothes as well.  I've noticed that kids clothes stay stylish longer and are bargain priced more often than adult clothing.

Tip #1 - Know what sizes/gender are easy to find

Infant and toddler clothes are the easiest to come by.  Infants often receive so many gifts and grow out of their clothing so fast, it rarely gets worn out.  Toddlers are a little harder on their clothing, but still most things have quite a bit of life left in them.  If girl clothes are what you're looking for, consider yourself lucky.  The choices are endless even well into the older girl sizes.  Boys clothing, on the other hand, is spotty at best over 4T.  Just forget about finding size 7/8.  Boys do indeed wear their clothing to shreds.

Tip #2 - Know what items to look for

Never, never, ever, ever buy brand new pajamas.  Never.  Sure, you want cute and cuddly.  Obviously, you want the zippers and snaps to work.  It's very easy to find jammies to fit both categories.  Dress clothes are another fairly easy item to score.  Fancy dresses, dress pants, tiny suit coats, ties, church coats - all are worn only a few times before being outgrown.  Play clothes or everyday wear can be more difficult to find, simply being, they've been worn for play.  Play = dirty.  Dirty = stains.  Everyday wear can be found, it just takes patience and multiple stops.  Snowpants are easily found for small children, but once they get to the king of the hill age, most likely you'll have pass by the thrift shops.

Tip #3 - Establish your price limit per piece

Over the years I've overpaid for shorts, t-shirts, and leggings and it really miffs me.  I hate it when I'm strolling through Walmart and see shorts for $2.97 and think back to my last Goodwill stop where I paid $2.99 for a pair of used play shorts.  So, I've set price limits to help me shop smart.  Prices will be different for gender and size because certain items are harder/easier to find.  And size matters.  Older kids clothing will typically cost more than infant/toddler so plan accordingly.  Here are my current limits.  Having these limits keeps me from buying every cute dress I see.  

Currently I'm buying size 2T/3T dresses - $3.00 or less
2T/3T leggings - $2.00 or less
Boys 5T anything - $4.00 or less
Boys size 8 anything - $4.00 or less
Boys size 18/20 shirts/shorts/swim trunks - $5.00 or less
18/20 jeans - $8.00 or less
Everyone else wears adult sizes.

Tip #4 - Know when to shop

Every thrift/resale shop has a system to clear out clothing that's been there a while.  It's in your best interest to find out what day they begin their 50% sale and shop on the first day for the best selection.  The Goodwill color of the week begins on Sunday.  I like to get their in the afternoon and rummage through all the kid clothes looking for the sale color ticket.  I bought Maria's Christmas dress in October; a beautiful plaid, taffeta, layered dress for $1.50.  She wore the dress about 4 times.  Less than 50 cents a wear!  Another favorite shop of mine has a color of the month, so it's best to get there as close to the first as possible.  Now's a good time to mention shopping ahead.  I keep an eye out looking for items the kids will wear next season and buy them up, especially if they're 50% off.

Tip #5 - Accessories

Shoes, hair accessories, slippers, bathrobes, swimwear, belts, purses, backpacks, winter hats and gloves.  I like to peruse through these items as well.  Often I find mittens for under $1, adorable shoes for under $4.  And if you've shopped for shoes lately, you know what a steal that is.  Kids shoe prices are a racket.

From ThredUp
If you'd rather shop from home, ThredUp is a great option.  I've purchased a number of items and everything has come in perfect condition and so well packaged, it feels like I'm buying new clothes. 

Hopefully these tips have given you a little insight into the art of thrift shopping.  And with all the money you save shopping smart, you will have enough to keep yourself well-dressed to boot.

Share your shopping tips in the comment section below.