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