Frugal Mama: Child’s Wardrobe on a Budget

To say we’re on a tight budget in our family is an understatement.  Often, people talk about how expensive children are, but, at least with a really young one, it is definitely possible to outfit your child on a budget.

My all-time favorite way to do this is to head over to my local library, where there is a children’s resale shop, run by volunteers, and where all proceeds go to benefit the library.  As far as I’m concerned, this is a win-win situation — I get cheap clothes, toys, and books for my child, and the library gets my money.  Also, it’s good for the planet since we’re reusing clothes that otherwise might end up in the landfill, or we would otherwise have to buy newly manufactured clothes to replace.  Best of all, I can go a little wild and do some impulse-shopping without breaking the bank.  Part of the fun, after all, is falling in love with the adorable outfit Jesse doesn’t *need* but would definitely use, and look cute in.   At a regular clothing store, even a discount store, that kind of impulse can add up FAST, but at Little Fox or a consignment or thrift shop, I can just “splurge” and get the third pair of Robeez (hey, they’re only $3-5 instead of close to $30) just because.

Jesse in the hand-knit sweater I found

Last week, we realized that Jesse was finally growing out of the winter clothes he had worn all last year, and needed some in a bigger size.  Oh, and by winter, I really mean winter.  We usually have our heat set pretty low at home, and layering and warm clothes are essential for comfort November through March.  When I realized Jesse had been wearing the same fleece-lined overalls for a couple of days, I knew it was time.  Luckily, the shop in the library is open Fridays now, which is my day off, and I went with Jesse and got four pairs of lined pants and overalls and four turtlenecks, plus a hand-knit sweater, for $25.  New, this stuff would have been close to $100, if not more, and I saved 75% of that, even though mostly this stuff looks like it was worn by one kid for one season (read: barely at all).  The pair of socks I scored still had the tags on.  Can’t beat that!

How do you save money on essentials for your child’s wardrobe?


3 thoughts on “Frugal Mama: Child’s Wardrobe on a Budget

  1. Resale shops, thrift stores (in better neighborhoods), ebay and retail sales for the stuff you just can’t get secondhand work for me. Gap socks hold up well and go on sale for 40%-50% off a few times a year so I will get 10 identical pair- some will get lost and they all match. Check out mother’s clubs- the one i am a part of has giant sales twice a year. The last one I scored Lands End and LL Bean fleece pajamas for $3-4 each (retail $40), Hanna Andersson tights for $1 and various Gap/Gymboree items for a few dollars each. I don’t buy stuff I don’t like and the girls won’t look good in, they are dressed well but not trendy and receive complements on their clothes.
    I keep a list of needs/wants for the next few sizes and every time I am in a store I will look for items within that range- if I am looking for size 4 pants but find size a 5 dress (on the list) I’ll grab it for next year and keep looking for the pants. I look for quality brands that are likely to hold up to multiple children (Hanna Andersson lasts forever and I have had horrible luck with Janie and Jack and Old Navy so I tend to avoid them unless that is my only choice). I keep future clothes in a Rubbermaid bin and take them out as needed. This really saved us a few weeks ago when #1 grew overnight (really) and none of her clothes fit- I was able to get the bin and get her dressed for preschool from a nearly complete wardrobe. The same thing happened to one of her classmates and his parents bought him a new wardrobe from Walmart for more money than I spent and the clothes will probably be worn out before his younger sibling can wear them. I have to replenish some things for #2 (23 months apart) but 80% makes it through both kids.
    I know this isn’t relevant to Jesse but for girls colorful cute shoes and/or interesting patterned tights (Hanna Andersson makes great ones)can jazz up a basic denim/plain dress or skirt outfit.
    The best way to get clothing and kid gear are hand me downs. Sadly, now that #1 is three those sources have dried up since kids are not growing as quickly and are more likely to wear stuff out.

    • A list is a great idea! I should definitely try that, because inevitably, I forget something, and by the time I go back to get it, it’s been snatched up by someone else.

  2. We are in the same boat! I totally utilize the library – esp for learning books and dvds. We are in a circle of friends who also have kids and I’ve let it be known that I am not opposed to ‘hand-me-downs’ and that has helped us tremendously!! I love when I go to Walmart and they are having an unexpected sale on clothes – I’ve gotten 2T jeans for $1!! Shirts for $1 (and not out of season)!! (of course these FLY off the racks though). These are all great tips!

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