After a summer of fun, it’s back to school time for my girls. That basically means a whole new wardrobe. Their shirts are stained with dirt, their jeans all have holes in the knees, and they want to look awesome for a new year with new friends.
The problem is, I don’t exactly have the money to go out and buy all new clothes.
Luckily for my girls, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. They all ended up with almost two weeks worth of outfits to start the school year, with a couple pairs of jeans set aside for the fall.
Each girl was even given free rein on her first day of school outfit — with a few back to school budget lessons from Mom. A big part of that budget is all about where you shop.
Here are 10 great places to find kids’ clothing for less:
The first thing I do before I buy clothes for back to school or a new season is take inventory of their closet. I make a note of what works and what colors they have, then pick up coordinating pieces rather than entirely new outfits.
You’ll find discount prices on your favorite retail stores at the outlet mall. They typically run a year or so behind, but you should still find plenty of current kids’ fashions. The teen recently bought a few school uniform-approved Aero polos for half the current price.
If you’re trying to mix and match clothing you already have, the color-coded system of thrift stores will work to your advantage. Be sure to watch for special half price days to save even more!
At a consignment sale, families have the opportunity to price and sell their clothes and toys. The sales are typically open to the public for great deals on everything your kids need. There is often a presale available to consignors, volunteers, and ticket holders.
Read more on consignment shopping
A swap is a bit different from a sale in that no money is exchanged. Some will run one for one so you take home as much as you bring. Others are a bit more of a free for all. Organize a swap with your friends, church or school or find a clothes swap in your area.
Yard sales are a treasure trove of bargains, though they’re a little more work for the buyer than consignment. You may have to dig through a lot of junk to find the good stuff, but it’s out there! I’ve bought name brand clothes with tags for $1 many times.
Now is the time to buy spring & summer clothes — you’ll find swimsuits, shorts, and tank tops for just a fraction of the retail price as the stores work to clear everything out before the fall merchandise arrives.
Unlike a consignment sale, resale shops will have clothing for all seasons. They do typically only buy in season clothing, but since it’s an actual store, the items will be available for sale year round. Which means you can find clearance deals on already great bargains!
HAND ME DOWNS
My girls get a lot of clothes passed down from some of my friends. Last year, I handed off a barely worn pair of must-have shoes that the tween wore for all of 3 weeks before her feet grew to my friend Michelle’s little girl. Her daughter wore them, loved them, and passed them back just in time for my youngest to start school.