Easy Ways to Save Money: Buy Used Kids Clothes

Easy Ways to Save Money Buy Used Kids Clothes - picture of three young kids laying in grass with sunglasses on

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While we can’t do much about the big stuff – the cost of my youngest daughter’s preschool, for example, or our children’s annual healthcare or dental tab – we go out of our way to save where we can. And for us, that means saving money on things that are easy to purchase used – mostly clothes, books, and shoes.

#Truth: I got this used clothes thing down to a science. Since my children were born, I have purchased new clothes for them just a few times. Of course, it helps that they are young and don’t really care what they wear yet. But it also helps that I don’t give them any other option. In fact, my six-year-old constantly marvels at the fact that you can buy clothes at the store in the first place.

“All these clothes are expensive,” she’ll say. “Why don’t people just buy from their friends?”

My Experience Saving on Clothes for My Kids

lydia vivian

Here are my kids in one of the few new outfits I have ever purchased them. Since we were getting professional pictures, I found some matching blazers and coordinating shirts at Target and bought them for around $40. Other than that, the vast majority of their clothes are purchased used. Exceptions are clothes “Santa” has given them for Christmas, birthday presents, and our constant rotation of bathing suits since my kids swim all-the-freaking-time. Of course, I went to Justice last month and snagged six next-size-up bathing suits at the off-season price of just $7 each. So for now, we’re set on that, too.

Other ways I save on kids clothes include shopping garage sales, scouring Craigslist ads, and perusing our neighborhood and city Facebook pages. Often times, people will advertise kid’s clothes in my children’s exact sizes for 50 cents or $1 per piece. To build a stash of clothing for the future, I also buy the really nice stuff in larger sizes. My kids are in sizes 4 and 6 right now, but I have jeans, shirts and sweaters stored up to size 8.

Tips for Buying Used Kids Clothes

Although sorting through used kids clothes and shopping garage sales can be a hassle, there are plenty of ways to find the best used clothes without too much effort on your part. Here are some tips that can help you find the best deals:

Let people know you are interested in buying their used clothes.

Two of my neighborhood friends have girls older than mine, and I always let them know I’ll buy their used clothes. Just look at the haul I purchased from my friend Leah the other day. For $64, I got 4 pairs of tennis shoes, 2 pairs of super nice boots that were only worn a few times, 8 pairs of jeans and pants, 6 pairs of shorts, and like 30 shirts and tops! Just because I asked nicely, Leah let me dig through her daughter’s clothes before she sold them on Craigslist or put them in her annual garage sale. Score!

Check ebay for used clothing lots. If your kid wears one or two brands exclusively, this is a really important tip. You can often find lots of name-brand, used kids clothing on eBay for pennies on the dollar. Think Gymboree, The Children’s Place, Baby Gap, and Carter’s. You’ll have to pay shipping, but you can still save a bundle.

Hit garage sales first thing. When someone advertises kids clothing in their garage sale and its the right size, you should plan on being there first thing. As the day goes on, the best stuff will head out the door at rock bottom prices. By being there first, you can have your pick of the best stuff.

Buy the nicest stuff in larger sizes. While you don’t want to start hoarding clothes your kids will never wear, it makes sense to buy the highest quality brands in larger sizes when you find them. My kids fit really well in The Children’s Place jeans, for example, so I’ll buy them up to size 8. I’ll also buy larger sizes in boots, really nice tennis shoes, and hardly worn clothing. I keep some totes in my attic and garage, and simply sort through the larger sizes as my kids grow into them. It helps to have two girls, obviously, since anything my oldest wears can be passed on to her sister.

Is Buying Used Kids Clothing a No-Brainer?

With so many ways to find nice, used clothing available on the internet, it’s hard for me to understand why anyone would always pay retail! Sure, you might need to pick up a few new things from time to time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the deep discounts that come with buying used, too.

And with used kid’s gear and clothing often costing pennies on the dollar, the savings you can score over the years can add up handsomely over time. There may come a time when my kids get picky about what they wear, but that time isn’t here yet.

As for me, I’m riding this wave of easy savings as long as I can. With so many options and opportunities to save, I can’t think of a good reason not to.

Do you buy used kid’s clothing? If so, where do you find the nicest used stuff?

See also: How to Live Cheap: Tools of a Tightwad

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    1. So true! My kids grow out of their clothes all the time. It would be a shame to always pay retail.

  1. I was a big fan of buying second hand clothes for my daughter when she was little.

    There comes a time, though, when they get *really* finicky. When that happened, I gave her a clothing budget so she could choose how it was spent. Even at the age of 12 she was pretty good at managing it.

    Second hand saved a fortune in the early years, if only I could have kept it going longer!

    1. I hear ya! I’m sure my kids will want a certain type of clothes at a certain point. Fortunately, we’re not there yet!

  2. We have pop-up consignment sales here twice a year that I go to. I’m not talking the expensive consignment stores, but ones that run for just a week at a time where I can still get items for a buck or two a piece. It’s pretty sweet! I don’t know if they have them in other parts of the country, but they are huge around here and I swear by them.

    1. They have kid’s consignment at the fairgrounds here as well. I haven’t made one yet, but maybe one day!

  3. I’m totally buying used clothes for my daughter. the way I see it, I’m going to save as much money in that department for as long as I possibly can! I know she will start caring about clothes one day and it will probably get more expensive then. but right now she has no idea so I’m totally taking advantage of that 🙂

  4. Hi Holly!! Awww your kids are adorable 🙂 I am all about used clothes. My favorite place to bargain hunt is Kid to Kid. Do you have one of those in your area? I’ve gotten a few Carters sets that were brand new for like $3. I went there twice over the past two weekends for winter clothes and spent $27 on 7 different ADORABLE sweaters for them!! They should be set for winter! 🙂

    1. We don’t have kid-to-kid, but we do have “Once Upon a Child.” I have purchased stuff there before. It’s very reasonable!

  5. The other nice thing about buying nicer used clothes is that you can sell them when you’re done for about what you paid, sometimes even more. I don’t think we’ve had to pay actual money for winter outerwear since our kid was 2. I keep buying at ski swaps and from friends or consignment and sell it when she’s done!

    1. Nice!

      Yeah, we get to resell the nicer stuff. As far as jeans and play clothes go, it seems we ruin them pretty often. Baby clothes can make the rounds forever, but it’s harder to make them last with the older kids!

  6. Not sure I’m getting the bargains you are Holly, but recent hit a local consignment shop and picked up a bunch of name brand athletic shorts and shirts for on oldest son.

  7. We don’t have kids, but I’ve definitely started to see more clothing for kiddos pop up on online sites like Poshmark. These resale sites were initially created to unload designer items, but it’s really encouraging to me to see the market for kids’ clothes booming. Given how quickly clothes are outgrown, it seems silly to pay more. Also…that pic of your girls is super adorable!

  8. I’ve posted on Facebook a few times that I need new clothes and I was inundated with high quality boys clothes at a super low price (often free). Most recently a friend gave me three garbage bags full of clothes for $5. I tried to pay more, but she insisted that she needed the clothes out of her apartment and only wanted the $5 to reward her son for cleaning his room out.

    ThreadUp has some really fun clothes if you are wanting to do family pictures and need nicer clothes.

    1. Yes! Some people just want to get rid of stuff and don’t care about the money.

  9. I love shopping at garage sales for myself, granted I don’t have kids. Most of the time I find people practically giving away clothes at the prices they sell them. I often think to myself I would have paid double for this.

  10. I think used clothing is the way to go for both adults and children. We’ve got a few children’s consignment stores in Nashville and the clothing is adorable! Plus, some of the stuff still has the original tags on it!

  11. We don’t, mainly because we’ve gotten them for free. On top of that my MIL loves buying clothing for her grandkids and is always sending us new stuff from her clearance shopping. My kids have way more clothing than they can wear.

  12. With 4 kids ages 3, 4, 8, and 11, I love buying used at garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment stores! I also love when friends and coworkers give us clothes that their kids have outgrown. Luckily my kids aren’t too picky yet .

  13. We’ve been pretty lucky in that we have a friend who’s son is just a year older than ours and they don’t plan on having more so we get some clothes from them. As for buying…my wife finds great deals at the thrift shop by her work…$3 Nautica Jeans! We’ve bought some new clothes at deep discounts at the clearance racks too.

  14. Most of Baby T’s clothes are used clothes. The clothe diapers he uses are purchased second hand as well. Most of the time used kids clothes, especially baby clothes, are barely used. Buying used clothes not only save you money, it also helps with the environment.

  15. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to convince my wife to buy used clothes for our 1 and 3 year-old yet although lots of their “wardrobe” has been gifted to them by family/friends. This morning it sounded like my wife was planning to buy used Halloween costumes for $5 though – that’s a start!

  16. I’ve noticed that my local Goodwill ends up with Target clearance clothes every so often. So new items from Target, but usually around $1 or so. I don’t have kids yet, but I feel like if you can find some good items, that might be the best of both worlds 🙂

  17. Buying used kids clothes makes so much sense. I would definitely do the same!

  18. We’re also quite lucky in that we have older kids in our extended family and we get real quality items handed down to us. Our family just wants the clothes out of their house and we happily accept them! The only clothes we buy on a regular basis are underwear and socks (and the occasional t-shirt from abroad). But we have scored some great stuff at Goodwill as well. We live in a fairly wealthy community so the items that get donated are really great quality. We also have items that the kids never get to wear because they’ve outgrown them before they hit the rotation so we end up selling them on Ebay. For us, this has been a great source of extra cash that we put towards our “out to eat” budget. Kids clothes are so expensive, but they don’t have to be!

  19. I love that picture of the girls, Holly. They are so beautiful, but I suspect you already know that. 🙂 I will confess that we don’t buy used clothes for the girls, but the girls are also big fans of Target, so it’s not like they are wearing Gucci either. 🙂 Lauren started Middle School this year and is starting to pay more attention to brands and getting fussier, which is to be expected. The good thing is that she is used to having a budget for clothes, so if there is something she absolutely feels compelled to have, she also knows she has to fit it into her budget and make other potential sacrifices to have it, which is all that matters to me. Taylor does go through Lauren’s old clothes and picks out the things she wants to keep. The rest we donate to a orphanage in Mexico, which is part of our family giving.

  20. I’m really lucky that my sister in law works for a second-hand shop in a really nice area, so I get hooked up. She calls when there are nice things about to go on the rack, and we get a lot of items with the tags still on them. For instance, my daughter has 5 pairs of Sketchers that she loves but I would never pay full price for. I’m sure at some point I won’t be able to get away with mostly used clothes. For now, we’re saving a ton.

  21. +1 for consignment sales. Not the stores, which can be more expensive but the occasional events at the convention centre, fairground, or other local gathering place. We buy our son\’s clothes for $1 each or less at times.

    You can also look for clothing swaps or a clothing tree where people swap clothes 1:1 or hand down clothes from one family to the next. Check with your neighborhood church, school, community center, etc. or just google it.

  22. Most of my son’s clothes are used. I find the nicest stuff and goodwill and Once Upon a Child year-round and stop by a few garage sales for some nice finds as well. This year I got about half of his back to school clothes used and bought the other half new. He’s blessed to have so many clothes and outfits that it gets hard to organize sometimes but he wouldn’t have much clothes at all if I didn’t take advantage of buying used and discount clothing.

  23. It seems easy to “go crazy” when you have kids and buy everything new (and lots of it). I think clothes are one of the things that really contribute to the cost of having kids, especially since they grow out of their clothes so quickly. Good tips, Holly! I’ll have to come back to this in 10 years when I have kids 😉

  24. I’m agree for buy used clothes for kids that grow up very quickly but I am agree also for buy used clothes for adults, now I already know that on winter 2016 i will have two weddings and I am going to by nice used dresses on thrifty store!!!

  25. If we do manage to have kids, we’re definitely buying the baby stuff used. Babies are constantly making a mess from one end or the other (or both) so why shop retail?

    As the kid gets older, Tim and I would need to discuss things. He’s still bitter because his parents shopped thrift stores and to this day say that the boys didn’t care. He did. Mainly because they had him wearing a friggin’ Tweety Bird t-shirt at age 8. Uh… no. (Luckily, Tim was a scrappy fighter.)

    But I’m sure we’ll be able to find a compromise. Like never endangering our child’s health by putting him/her on the playground in that kind of thing.

  26. I have always stuck to buying used clothes for my kids just because it seems silly to pay for new ones that the kids will just outgrow anyway. Great advice here, thanks so much for sharing.

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