Clothing Your Babies and Children on a Shoestring
Everyone says that having children is so expensive, but as the mother of 7 kids, I strongly disagree. As long as you do not have the idea that your kids must have the latest and greatest and trendiest clothes on the market, you can easily clothe even a large family for a very small amount of money. You just need to be a smart shopper!
A great way to do comparison shopping and get great deals is to shop on Ebay. Many sellers have large "lots" of children's clothing that they sell for a fraction of what they would cost in the store. Ebay sorts their listings according to gender, size and types of clothing, but it is up to you to sift through the items and shop for the seasonal clothing that you are interested in buying. A great way to really narrow things down is to do a search for something like "winter girls lot size 8" and you can find all of the large lots of clothing for a girl of size 8 and see which ones will suit your child. Children's and babies' clothing in these lots are often brand new, even with tags still on them or they are gently used and still in great shape. Buying a whole season's worth of clothing in this manner will drive your costs down greatly and clothe your children nicely for very little money.
Kids' Clothing Exchange
Every year, sometimes twice per year, we have local organizations that hold huge sales of used children's clothing where parents can consign clothes they no longer need for their children. These consigners can then be the first to shop the sales and get all the clothes they need for the upcoming season or year. Even if you do not consign your old clothing and cannot shop the sales before the public, you can still get great deals on a large volume of clothing for the rest of the duration of the sale. They are usually large quantities of other baby gear like exersaucers, strollers, baby swings, cribs and baby bedding, baby toys and just about any other baby item you can think of! Usually on the last day of the baby sale, all items are marked 50% off and you can really do well if you are patient enough to wait until then. Bring a truck and stock up on the savings.
Shop Clearance Sales
If you are able to predict your child's size for the next year's season, a great idea is the wait for say, the winter clearance sales at local stores, and buy all the winter clothes your child might need for the next winter season. Many stores have massive cuts in the price tags on their clothes since they are no longer interested in profiting from those items, they just want to clear them out and make room for the next season's clothes. It takes a little planning ahead and room to store next year's clothing, but shopping the clearance sales can be great fun and great savings too.
Most cities and towns have their own local consignment stores where parents bring in baby and children's clothes they no longer need and they collect on these items once someone buys them. In wealthier areas where some families have so many clothes that some never get worn at all, you can find great bargains on stylish and brand new clothes for a fraction of the original cost. Many of these consignment stores have email lists that you can join, where they give you a heads up when they have extra discounts during yearly sales where you can save even more money.
Shopping a thrift stores is a bit more work for the shopper, but it is well worth the while if you are looking to save lots of money. There tend to be huge numbers of items to sift through and things are not always organized well, but the prices cannot be beat. Many families do not want to take the time to consign their clothing to a consignment shop and in a frenzy to relieve their home of clutter, they load up all the items they do not need and simply drop them off at the local thrift store. You can find clothes in great condition for your whole family there if you have the time to spend but not money.
Get Coupons from Stores' Mailing Lists
Many stores have sales that only their customers who subscribe to their mailing or email lists and you can get coupons and notifications of special sales by signing up to receive their updates. These stores do not usually inundate their buyer with but a few announcements and if you are looking to save money on clothing, these coupons and special sales can be a great bonus to your money-saving venture.
One last item that you can look into is an email list call Freecycle. Freecycle has chapters in most areas of the country and the rule of these email lists is that you must give away for free whatever you post on the list. You can do an "in search of" post where you list that you are looking for something like "Boys Clothing, Size 6 needed in My Town". Families are often wanting to clear unused items out of their homes and want to cut out the middle man of the thrift shops and just give their items away directly to a family who wants them. You could literally clothe your children for free if you are looking for things and someone has them to give at the right time!
Clothing your children does not have to cost an arm and a leg, it just takes a bit of patience, know-how and diligence to find the right clothes at the right prices. Anyone can go to the store and load up on full-priced goods and swipe the credit card and spend too much. But the wise family will plan ahead, find local resources and shop for bargains to provide for their families. The feeling of satisfaction that comes with a bargain well-found is priceless, in and of itself.