Being Cheap...In A Good Way, Parenting

Dressing Your Kids Well – For Cheap!

My older daughter has a habit of changing clothes 15 times throughout the day. She’s gone through phases where she would insist on wearing princess dresses at all times (depending on the day she still does this). At other times she’s obsessed with coats and hats, regardless of the temperature outside. The same with shoes – if she decides one pair is her favorite, she’ll wear them with everything. Lately her rain boots have been the “favorite” shoes).

Luckily my younger daughter still happily wears what I put her in. I’m sure it is only a matter of time before she goes through her own fashion stages.

To keep up with two rapidly growing little humans (and to make sure there are an adequate number of styles to suit their fancy) we have acquired closets full of clothes. Easily these clothes could have cost me a small fortune, but I’m a bit too cheap for that.

Though I’ve tried online sites like thredUP and zulily, I’ve found that shopping in just three places I can outfit my kids in name brands without spending more than will fit into an Assistant Professor’s budget (not all University employees make D1 football coach salaries…contrary to popular belief…but I digress).

  1. Thrift Stores

My husband and I’ve always enjoyed perusing thrift stores. While awaiting the arrival of our first child we found lots of onesies and pajamas in sizes 0-6 months. I thought we were stocked up for 6 months, oh to be that naive again. Both of our kids outgrew 6 month clothing in the first 60 days of their lives. Turns out a lot of kids outgrow clothes before they have had a chance to wear out their clothes (or before they wear them at all)and a lot of parents donate these clothes to the thrift store!

My rule for thrift stores is to not pay more than $4 for any single item – ideally I aim for under $2. If you’ve not shopped thrift stores in a while, you are missing out. Half of the clothes I buy my kids from the thrift store are brand new with tags still attached. I aim for brands I know I can’t get new for these prices. Most name brands (Nike, North Face, Patagonia, Disney, etc.), even at outlets or consignment sales will cost more than 2-4$. However, I’ve gotten all of these brands (and my kids wear them quite regularly) at thrift stores for my target price. Walmart/Target brands frequently can be found on clearance (and paired with Cartwheel coupons) around 2-4$, so, if I’m going to buy those brands I’d just buy them new at the stores they are originally sold at. All of the clothes/shoes pictured below were purchased for under $2/piece and the shoes were all new!

One tip – I’m not as focused on finding the exact size my kids are wearing at that moment, I look for a few sizes up. I have a storage box for each size – as the kids move into a new size I have their wardrobe mostly set. As the kids outgrow their clothes I either put them in a storage box for hand me downs or put them onto hangers to prepare for a consignment sale.

2. Kohl’s and JCPenny

Yes, these are two different stores, but they are both department-ish stores that regularly send out coupons! JCPenny regularly sends out 10$ off 10$ coupons (I’ve gotten $15 off 15$ before too) and they have events every week or two where they hand out these coupons too (up to 100$ off 100$!). My game plan with those coupons is to spend as close to the dollar off amount as possible. The coupons do have rather long lists of exclusions, but Carters and the JC Penny brands are not among those exclusions. Just this weekend I took my older daughter on a mommy-daughter date and let her pick out whatever she wanted (we left with a blue/silver sweatshirt and a fuzzy pink hooded jacket [with ears] in case you were wondering). Almost all of my kids’ pajamas were purchased using these coupons as they are generally priced right around 10$.

Kohl’s often sends out 10$ off of 30$ coupons that can be combined with percentage off coupons. When you add in their Yes2You rewards, Ebates (if you’re shopping online), and clearance I’ve gotten some pretty awesome deals. I spent less than 12$ on everything pictured here.


3. Consignment Sales

Consignment sales, to me, are like the kids section of a thrift store, but much bigger and the profits are shared with the parents who are consigning. They generally have guidelines for quality, so you don’t have to inspect each item quite as thoroughly as you would at the thrift store.

If you’re ready to part ways with some of your kids’ outgrown clothing, consignment sales help you recoup some of the money you spent on the clothes initially. I’ve already told you how much I generally spend on kids clothes, and, so far, I’ve been able to sell most items for what I’ve paid. Of course, since kids are messy beings, I can’t re-sell all of the clothes I buy them, but those I do have netted me around 200$ each sale.

One final thought on thrift stores and consignment sales – when I buy re-sale I know new materials aren’t being used on something my kids will use a handful of times. I have a few tree-hugger tendencies (I have a post in the works about that too), but I’d like to not waste resources when possible.

What are your tips for dressing your kids well on the cheap?

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