Buying clothes for your family is not an easy task. Kids grow so sporadically, some sizes get worn for a year and some barely get worn at all. A few things I do make buying clothes easier and cheaper.
How I prepare
First of all, you need to be prepared, and this means knowing what sizes you need. I keep in my phone a list for each family member that says:
- Husband: t-shirts- L, button-up- 17″ collar, pants 36×38, shoes-13, etc.
- 3-year-old: tops- 4T, bottoms- 5T, shoes- 11
- 1-year-old: 18-24 months, shoes- 4
That way I always know what size I need, even if they aren’t around me.
Second, you need to know what you already have. I buy lots of things in advance (for my toddlers, I have some clothes going all the way up to sizes 8-10). I buy in advance, because I buy what is cheap. See How I Shop below. To keep track of what I already have, I have 2 lists: 1 for boys’ clothes and one for girls’ clothes. Each list looks like this:
- Size 2T- Have: swimsuit, long sleeve tops, pants, snowsuit, pajamas, shorts; Need: t-shirts, shorts
- Size 3T- Have: t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, pants, shorts; Need: swimsuit, pajamas
And this list goes on for each size in each gender. This way, when I am out shopping and I see a great deal on T-shirts, I know whether or not I need them, and if so, what size to buy. Because even a great deal isn’t great if the clothes never get worn.
How I shop
I try to do the bulk of my shopping for kids clothes at garage sales. Many times, items are priced at $1-$2 dollars, but I don’t like to spend that much. My technique is this: If I notice that there are a lot of clothes in the size/gender that I am looking for, I will say “How much for all the girls’ clothes?” The seller will usually then say something like $10 or $20. When I get home I wash and sort the clothes, and after I count the items, they often only cost me $.05-$.15 a piece! The seller does this because they would rather just get rid of it all at once then spend all day trying to sell each individual piece. Doing this, they know they make that $10 or $20. So it’s win/win for everyone.
I don’t, however buy ALL my kids clothes at garage sales. I occasionally visit secondhand stores (like Goodwill), but their prices are often more than I’d like to pay. I also watch the clearance racks at stores like Walmart and Target. Sometimes they have $3 shirts marked 75% off, so that’s less than $1 an item.
I don’t shop much online for kids’ clothes, because there aren’t many really good deals out there. On eBay, there are tons of kids’ items, but when you take shipping into account, it’s usually not worth it, unless they are selling a lot of clothes in one auction.
When it comes to shopping for myself and my husband, we don’t really buy clothes much. I will buy jeans and tops at garage sales and thrift shops. Sometimes I get shirts for $3-4 at JC Penney or Old Navy (with sales & coupons). But I try really hard not to spend much on clothes. My clothes last me a really long time (some I’ve had since high school), and I don’t replace them unless I need to. I’ve never really been the kind of person to follow trends anyway. I like what fits and what flatters me, and I stick to it. As for my husband, he’s kind of the same way (many of his t-shirts are from high school and college, too). When he tells me he needs something, I spend a week or two looking for the best deal I can find, and I get it. It’s not as big a deal spending more on our clothes, because we will wear these for years, if not a decade. I don’t want to spend the same amount on a shirt that my son will wear 4 times the summer he is 5.