Tips for Stretching Your Clothing Budget

The clothing budget can be a tricky category. Not only are clothes becoming increasingly expensive to buy, but the reality of small growing humans is that they need frequent wardrobe updates. It seems almost as soon as you catch them up to their current size, they are already starting to outgrow them. Not to mention that mom and dad need new things too every once and a while!

I like being thrifty, stretching dollars as much as I can, while still having a sense of style. More so as time goes on, I find myself wanting to put my kids in things I like – not just the absolute cheapest thing I can find (although snatching up those crazy good, if-not-ideal bargains can be hard to resist).

There are some simple guidelines I try to follow when clothes shopping for my kids. Use the image below to save on Pinterest for future reference!

Shop Clearance

Whenever I go shopping, I pretty much make a beeline for the clearance section. There are so many hidden gems to be found! Old Navy is my favorite clothes store for clearance shopping. They often have items for sub $5.00 – I’ve purchased things there for as little as $0.47! (they also have amazing online sales).

Don’t Be Afraid to Alter

A common reason clothes are marked down in price is because they are out of season. But that doesn’t mean you should rule them out! Find a cute long sleeve shirt for $2? Buy it and chop the sleeves off. You can leave the edge raw, or you could fold it and sew a simple hem. I recently found a darling pair of denim toddler overalls for $6. Much too hot to wear during our brutal Arizona summer, but I cut them down into shortalls and now they’re perfect! Think creatively.

Buy A Little Big

Too big is better than too small. While you don’t want to put your kids in huge clothes, err on the larger side when you can to make them last longer. This especially works well with t-shirts and dresses (the latter are often so short these days, my long-legged girl tends to outgrow them quickly). With pants, it’s better to buy their actual size so that you don’t have issues with keeping them on.

Buy Secondhand

As with buying clearance, this is a great way to get the most bang for your buck. Check out thrift stores, keep an eye out on Marketplace and Craigslist for good deals. Depending on where your child is at developmentally, they will likely only wear the clothes for a few months themselves so a little worn generally isn’t a problem.

$10 Rule

My general rule of thumb is to buy items that are under $10 – unless it is something that I really love. The fact of the matter is, clothes spending adds up really fast and there is no reason to be careless about it. MSRP does not mean that the product is actually worth the dollar amount. Certain stores (*cough* Carters *cough*) list ridiculous MSRPs so that you feel like you’re getting a better deal than you actually are when you buy their “sale” items. We all fall prey to this at times, but be smart about how you shop. Just because the jeans are listed at $40 but “on sale” for $20 doesn’t mean it’s actually a good deal for you.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but certainly a helpful guideline. I know roughly what clothes are worth to me, and it ends up being about $10-$15 an outfit ($4-$6 for shirts, $8-$10 for pants, etc). But if I find something that I just love, then I’m willing to spend more (especially something that I know will get a lot of use).

Figure Out What You Need

Try to get an idea of what your child actually needs. Newborns tend to need a lot, to be sure, but after the first 6 or so months, that tapers off significantly. Generally speaking, I feel like two weeks worth of clothes is a good amount. Not to say that you can’t have more or less, but you don’t want to have so much that pieces aren’t even getting used.

Try to be intentional about your purchases. Don’t overspend now when there isn’t a need if you know that in a few months they will be ready for the next size. As they get older, clothes last longer, so you’ll need to figure out where you are at and adapt to the stage you’re in.

In Summary

If you have read all the way through this post, thanks for sticking around! You’re probably thinking, “Wow, she way overthinks this,” and perhaps I do. But I hope that you found some of these suggestions helpful.

The bottom line is, be wise with your hard earned money. Don’t assume expensive shopping trips are “just how it is” – frugality doesn’t have to be difficult!

Coming up soon, I’ll share with you some of my favorite stores for buying baby / toddler clothes, so stay tuned!

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