spring has sprung how to make the most of your familys clothing budget

March 25th, 2009

Spring Has Sprung: How To Make The Most Of Your Family’s Clothing Budget

It is finally spring here in the midwest, and although I am not counting out another cold snap coming through, we can go outside most days now to play, and spring fever is in the air.  I’ve been doing my traditional “switch over the season’s clothes” in my children’s closets, and I’ve found that they have both outgrown a vast amount of their clothing in the past few months, and there is some shopping on my horizon, unless I want to do laundry every single day or send them out half-clothed.  Since my kids are 2 and 4, this wasn’t a big surprise to me, but I’m still not going to run out to the closest department store and empty my wallet to fill their closets.  here are some of the things I do, year round, to make the seasonal clothing crunch less painful for all of us.

1.  Shop ahead a season.  This isn’t something you can do if you need the item right now, but you can still be shopping right now for next season.  Right now is when clothes for winter (and some spring) are being clearanced, so keep an eye on the clearance racks of your favorite stores and stock up for next year.  Part of my process this spring was taking out all the clothes I’d bought last year on clearance for spring and summer this year.  made the list of “must-haves” much shorter than it could have been.  I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for winter PJs for my son for next year, something he’s in short supply of now.

2.  Make a list, as detailed as possible.  I have been guilty too many times in the past of buying something just because it was a bargain and I thought my kids would need it, only to find when I got home that i already had enough of whatever that item was.  So I make lists.  As I put the winter clothes away, I make lists of what is needed for next winter.  As I take the spring and summer clothes out and do an inventory, I make lists of what is missing.  We need a lot of socks, and my son needs 2-3 pais of jeans.  So I won’t buy him t-shirts (which he has plenty of) instead, I make a list.

3.  Orchestrate a trade with friends or family if possible.  Sometimes you know someone that has kids who are a little older or bigger than yous that you might be able to trade clothing with.  I have a friend who has kids the same age as mine, but the girl is the older one and the boy is the younger, so we’ve been able to trade a lot of her outgrown girl clothes for our outgrown boy clothes.  Subsequently, my daughter needs very little this year, if anything at all.  Except shoes.

4.  Hit up local consignment stores and other gently used options.  I am a huge fan of Goodwill for this, but it varies by locality and area.  If you have places that sell gently used clothing, check them out.  It might be overpriced, but you might find some bargains too.

5.  Plan out trips to yard sales carefully.  I love going to yard sales but with the hit and miss nature, the gas to drive to them, and the time spent, it isn’t always worth it.  When I decide to hit up the yard sales, I plan my yard sale trips to be when there are a number of them in a close location (we have neighborhood association yard sales here which work well) and in affluent yet child-friendly areas of our city where I’ll get the most bang for my buck.   I make an event out of it, and spend saturday morning walking about the neighborhood I’ve chosen browsing the goods.

6.  Clearance racks can still be your friend this season, too.  Some things get classified as a certain season but really, are multi-season.  My son needs jeans.  I can find jeans on clearance they were selling in the winter that will work just as well for spring and fall as well.

7.  Look for sales and other discounts.  Sometimes, you need things that you can’t easily get used.  Both my kids need socks.  Socks are not a frequent used find (because well, they get *used*, and not gently.)  So I watch the local department stores and shoe stores for clearance sales, seasonal sales, or just… sales.  I’ve been fortunate to get a lot of great socks for my kids at the price I’d pay for cheap offbrand socks (or less) by paying attention.

Adding to anyone’s wardrobe doesn’t have to break the bank.  I mostly shop for my kids, because my spouse and I don’t tend to grow as quickly :) , but I’ve used a number of these strategies to add to my husband’s work wardrobe as well.  With planning and perseverence, clothes shopping doesn’t have to break the bank.

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15 Responses to “Spring Has Sprung: How To Make The Most Of Your Family’s Clothing Budget”

  1. I especially like getting clothes a used clothing stores like Goodwill. You can often find great clothes for even better prices!


  2. I’ve always hated shopping for clothes… I can’t imagine having to buy them for children, too (I’ll add that to my short list of reasons why it’s actually not so bad being single). Fortunately, when I mentioned this to my mom a couple weeks ago, she offered to take me clothes shopping as a birthday present when I visit in May (people tell me she has good taste). Phew! After I hit thirty, I put on a few inches that simply won’t be shed and I’ve been suffering with ill-fitting clothes ever since.

  3. Go to outlets. I usually go once a year and they always have quality high brand stores and have quality clothes but for less money. You can always leave with more for your money.

  4. Consignment stores are the best, especially if you have a kid 8 and under. In Los Angeles especially, you have people dropping off expensive clothes that have hardly been worn. There’s really no reason to buy new – it’s a racket.

  5. debtheaven Says:

    March 25th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for winter PJs for my son for next year, something he’s in short supply of now.

    I’m in Europe, not in the US, but I was surprised at that statement. Obviously things are different. I bought DS3 two pairs of winter PJs for next year (and the year after, but he’s 10) two months ago, at the tail end of our January sales. Now I can only find spring and summer clothes, there are no more winter clothes for sale here, on sale or at full price. That actually drives me crazy sometimes, Gd forbid a child should need a new winter hat or scarf in March, but that’s how it is.

  6. I’ve found that Target will usually clearance their spring clothes at about this time, which means I can pick up shorts and t-shirts for my boys for just a few dollars each. I bought the bulk of their winter clothes in Oct/Nov when Target clearanced out the fall clothes. I’m lucky enough to live in a climate where where waiting a little while will work for us!

  7. Thank you for this advice, I would have never thought to some of these things.

  8. We also take the pants from the winter and cut them off to make shorts. This time of the year, they usually have holes in the knees anyways, at my house, and they would be too short in the fall. So we cut them off and get another season out of them.

    Thanks for the tips!

  9. I just got a huge batch of clothes for my 9 month old daughter on Craigslist for $15! It was over 50 items of 12 mo. size, most of them nicer than anything I’d ever buy for her. There were even a few 18 month old summer items she threw in. I really don’t need to buy her anything now for quite a while!

    Garage sales are great for kids clothes too! I find better deals there than at Goodwill. Goodwill will sell things for $2 or $3 and I often find I can get nice new things for $5-$7 so it’s not much savings.

  10. I buy my daughters clothes a few sizes ahead and keep it logged in a little notebook. That way I know if I am buying things that don’t match at all which is a big waste.

    I also cycle her old clothes through our local children’s consignment sale. When I buy used things from there, I am able to resell it the next year and get all my money back :)

  11. Our town has an annual yard sale. We spent $35 last week and outfitted our just over 2 year old for the summer. Since then people have even commented about how great her light up, princess sneakers are.

  12. Impulse buying is always a problem — now I only go into a store if I specifically need something; not just “to browse.”


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