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As a mom of 3 whose kids are constantly staining clothes and growing out of things in the blink of an eye, I am always looking for ways to keep our clothing budget under control. I’ve figured out my own shopping strategy over the years, so I’m sharing my biggest tips and tricks for saving money on kids’ clothes.
I recognize that clothing budget challenges can differ a bit by age, but we’re going to cover tips and tricks that can be used across a variety of age groups. My kids are younger and not as brand conscious, but I’m already forward thinking since I know that it’s right around the corner for us.
How to Save Money on Kids’ Clothes
1. Take An Inventory of What You Already Have
Before doing any shopping or reaching out to friends and relatives for hand-me-downs, I always take an inventory of what we already have. I lay out all of my kids’ clothing for the season to see what colors they own, what has holes and stains, and we do a quick try-on session to see what still fits.
This helps me narrow down my shopping list so I don’t overbuy. I also like to make note of how long I think we have left on an item so I can plan ahead. For example, they may have a pair of pants that fit but are a little snug. I know that it’s not an immediate need but to plan for a purchase in a couple of months.
2. Set a Clothing Budget (and Stick to It)
Take a look at your monthly budget and decide how much you can and are willing to spend on your kids’ clothing. If you need help creating a simple budget for your family, take a look at my free 25-page ultimate budget binder.
I write down all of our fixed expenses and then set a budget for our variable expenses (like clothing) based on what we have leftover after all of our bills. This helps us to set a reasonable budget for everything we do. If you want more detail about how we set our budget, you can read how to create a family budget that simple and livable HERE.
Also, make sure to choose stores that fit into your budget. Kids are rough on clothing, so don’t overspend on things that probably won’t last long. After watching my kids stain countless clothing items with food and grass, I have a much easier time spending less on their clothing!
3. Do a Clothing Swap
Once I know what I need, I will check in with friends and family members to see if they are planning to purge closets. I’ve been able to get some pretty amazing hand-me-downs from people, and I’ve passed along many of our items that are in good condition.
Also, when my kids were younger, our local moms group would have everyone bring in their gently used clothing to swap. This is super easy to plan amongst friends, and it gives you a lot of variety to choose from.
4. Sell the Old to Buy New
This definitely gets harder as your kids get a little bit older and tend to wear things out faster, but this was one of my favorite ways to save on clothing when my kids were babies and toddlers. Babies and toddlers outgrow things quickly but clothes are generally in great condition. Instead of donating items, sell them.
Some of my favorite easy ways to sell clothes are:
- Garage Sales
- Facebook Marketplace
5. Create Capsule Wardrobes
It’s always tempting to buy super cute and unique clothing for kids, but one of the best ways to save on kids’ clothing is to build them a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is built with more neutral clothing items that can easily be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. An example of a capsule wardrobe would be:
- Plain t-shirts in several colors- blue, white, black, pink, purple, etc.
- Shorts- 1 blue, 1 tan, 1 gray, 1 denim
- Jeans- 1 dark denim and 1 light denim
- 2 sweatshirts without branding
- 1 jacket
6. Time Your Shopping for Sales
You don’t need to buy an entire wardrobe in one shopping trip. There will be times outside of sales that your kids will need clothing, but I try to time my larger purchases during store sales. This includes:
- Buying early or late for back to school clothes based on sales
- Purchase off season for next year’s clothing- you can get great deals on jackets in the Summer
- Wait for big sales seasons- Black Friday, Memorial Day, etc.
7. Shop at Overstock Stores
I have found amazing deals on brand name clothing at overstock stores like Marshalls, Ross, Tj Maxx, and Nordstrom Rack. It may take a little bit more digging through the racks, but you can find great quality clothing items for much less.
8. Shop the Sale Section First
The first thing I look at when I enter a store or shop online is the sale and clearance area. Start your shopping there before moving on to regularly priced items. For years I wouldn’t even stop by the sale section thinking there wouldn’t be much there, but stores switch over their styles so frequently that you can find some amazing deals.
9. Use Apps for Additional Savings
Cash back apps are a great way to save on items you are already planning to purchase. My two favorite cash back apps are:
- Ibotta- Ibotta is a cash back app where you can search for in-store rebates. Once you purchase items, you take a picture of your receipt with your phone to prove that you made the purchase. Get $5 cash back just for signing up through my link.
- Cartwheel by Target- The Cartwheel app has in-store coupons on pretty much everything from food, to home goods, and clothing. I like to scroll through the clothing coupons before shopping so I can plan my purchases in advance.
10. Participate in Loyalty Programs
Some of my favorite stores for kids’ clothing have loyalty programs where you get coupons based on how much you spend. I have gotten a lot of clothing for free over the years using loyalty programs. Some of my favorites are:
- Rewarding Moments from Carter’s
- Kohl’s Cash
- Old Navy Supercash
11. Use Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
Rakuten is my favorite and easiest way to save money on kids’ clothing. I go through Rakuten any time I shop online so that I can receive cash back on my purchases.
There are no hidden fees or tricks with Rakuten. You just sign up for an account, click on the store you’re interested in, and you are redirected to shop as usual. You then receive cash back based off of the percentage associated with that specific store. Percentages change occasionally, but some examples of current cash back percentages are:
- Old Navy- 6% cash back
- Walmart- 5% cash back
- American Eagle- 4% cash back
- Athlete- 6% cash back
- Justice- 2% cash back
- Famous Footwear- 3.5% cash back
- JCPenney- 3% cash back
And those are just a few examples of the thousands of stores listed on Rakuten. You can also receive this cash back percentage with discount codes and sales. This helps you get double and triple the savings on clothing items.
An easy way to use Rakuten is to sign up for an account and install the Safari or Chrome extension. With the extension you never have to go to the Rakuten site first. Instead, you will be alerted when you visit an online store if they offer cash back through Rakuten or any coupon codes. This helps you maximize your savings online.
Some stores do offer in-store cash back through Rakuten, but you can always buy online and do in-store pick-up if you don’t want to wait for shipping.
As You Head Out to Shop
The biggest mistake you can make when shopping for kids’ clothing is to do it without a plan and a little bit of research. Knowing how much you have available to spend and stretching every dollar by looking for deals can save you hundreds.
It is possible to dress your family well without overspending!
What are some of the ways you have saved on your kids’ clothing? Where are your favorite places to shop?
Other Posts You Might Like:
- A Cashless Envelope System for Tracking Your Spending
- 35 Frugal Living Tips for Living on One Income
- 10 Tips for Saving Money on Household Items
- 20 Ways to Budget for a New Baby
- How to Back to School Shop on a Budget
Resources I Love
Rakuten: Rakuten is a total no-brainer for saving money when shopping online. Every time you shop online, click on a store through Rakuten to receive cash back on all of your purchases. Get $10 after your first $25 purchase when you use my link.
Ibotta: Ibotta is my favorite app for saving money without clipping coupons. Get cash back on in-store purchases just by uploading your receipts. Get $5 just for signing up when you click on my link.