How to Get Your Children's Clothing for Cheap or Free
During the spring and summer months, garage sales abound, and they are a great place to bargain shop for your kids' clothes. Most families who are selling off their children's wardrobes don't have high expectations as far as pricing. You can often pick up shirts for as little as $.25 and pants and jeans rarely go for more than a dollar or two. It's rare to find socks and underwear in like-new condition at garage sales, but i
If your friends have children a year older than your child, ask them if they have any clothes they were planning to donate. If so, ask if you could have them instead. You may want to offer them a small monetary compensation, which they may or may not accept. A really great idea is to host a Clothing Exchange Party. Get together a bunch of your friends, have them bring their kids' old clothes and shoes and swap for sizes that will fit your child. This is a win-win situation if your friends have children of various ages, as everyone will be able to go home with something for their kids.
Many communities have children's clothing exchange stores, also known as consignment shops. You can bring in your child's old clothes and they will offer you credit based on the quality, condition and resale value of the clothing. (Don't bring in stained, dirty, or ripped items or clothing in otherwise poor condition!) Anything they are unable to accept, they may offer to donate for you, or they will return the clothes to you so you can donate them to the Salvation Army or a similar charity thrift store. You can then use the credit you've earned to purchase discounted, gently used clothing for your kids. You can often find some really great brand name items, and even some clothes that are new with tags!
Most cities have thrift stores run by charitable organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Deseret Industries. Stores like Savers also sell gently used items. You'll have to shop around to see which stores have the best quality and selection of clothes for your kids. Keep an eye out for specials or bargain days when you can get clothing for additional discounts, sometimes as much as an additional 50% off!
EBay and Craigslist
Ebay and Craigslist are another great resource for cheap or free used clothes. On eBay, children's clothes (often high end brands!) are sometimes sold in lots, so you can get a whole wardrobe for a great price. Both of these websites have one major disadvantage in that you can't handle the clothes (to check for damage or wear) and you can't have your kids try them on. Fortunately, most children's sizes are pretty standard when it comes to fit, so 2T's should fit your toddler even though you can't try them out before you buy.
Freecycle.org is another great resource for all kinds of things, including children's clothes. Visit the site, find a Freecycle group in your area and watch for offers of kids' clothes your child can use. You can also post a request for a specific item; so don't hesitate to ask for boys' size 7 slim jeans if that's what you need. If someone's got them, they'll respond to your post and voila! Free clothes!
End of Season Sales
Buying clothes at the end of the season is a good way to find bargains on brand new clothes for your children. There is a certain risk involved in buying next year's summer clothes in the fall: you have to hope your child doesn't have a growth spurt and skip a size! Expensive items like bathing suits or winter jackets are fantastic for end-of-season shopping deals. Peruse the clearance racks and put your purchases in labeled boxes so you can easily identify them when they will fit your child in-season.
While you may need to do a bit of legwork to find the best deals on bargain children's clothing, the payoff is well worth it. Imagine buying brand name, quality clothes that are gently used or even brand new without emptying your wallet! Next time you need to go clothes shopping for your kids, use the tips in the article to make sure you are getting the best deal on cheap or free children's clothes.