Buying New Clothes For My Kids and Not Breaking The Bank

My kids are getting bigger and that's amazing to see them grow up so fast, but wow, when you look at all the clothing they grow out of, and how often you need to replace their wardrobe, that isn't so easy, especially from a financial perspective. When my kids were younger, I got a lot of hand me downs for them, not needing to buy much for them, if anything, but as they get bigger, hand me downs don't work nearly as well. I can't find anything for my boys in the second hand clothing store nearest to me, and even once I buy things for Lee, 9, I can't pass them down to Ike who is two years younger, since they are practically the same size. (They wear the same sized shoes, for example, and maybe an inch difference in height.)
So instead of buying a wardrobe for my oldest son and passing it down to my second, I simply need to purchase a wardrobe that is twice the size, and then both boys pretty much outgrow them at the same time. (It isn't that Lee is short even- he's actually a tall string bean, but that Ike is gigantic for his age.)

For my girls, I do manage to pass on some clothing from one to the other. Anneliese, nearly 5, is still bigger than Rose, but just by a smidgen, despite being over two years apart, so as soon as Anneliese outgrows some clothing, instead of putting it away, I just move it to Rose's shelf. But of course, Rose, who wants to be so big already just helps herself to the clothing on Anneliese's shelf, despite it being a little big on her.

Clothing. It gets expensive, when you need to buy a wardrobe for three kids at a time, and aren't getting hand me downs or second hand clothes. (Add the fact that our local thrift shop seems to be closed lately. I do have plans to check on one a little further away in the next little bit.)
So I realize it is money that I have to spend, so I try to make the money stretch as far as it can, getting the most for my money, the best quality clothing for the least amount of money.

I rely a lot on I know prices on the US site don't seem so cheap, but the prices are different depending on where you are in the world, and for me, prices are very low, and that includes international shipping. (The prices in pounds on the label are not even what the clothing cost me.)
I just ordered a bunch of clothing from them, the majority for Anneliese. For the boys, all the pants on their shelves are from NextDirect, as that is all they will agree to wear, and their school uniform pants are low cost- only $10 a pair for their size- and very sturdy, comfortable, and with perfect fit. For the summer, they wear various colored short sleeve polo shirts from Next as well, about $4.50 each, also great quality and fit, plus a few hand me down shirts as well (pretty much the only hand me downs currently in circulation on our shelves.) But I haven't found good long sleeve shirts for the boys from Next, so I just bought some more expensive, but still not too overpriced shirts from, for about $8 each (plus shipping, which is a flat rate of $6.50 for the lot). In general, when buying online, I look to see if there are multipacks off various items, because they usually end up being cheaper that way than buying individually. I only bought 9 shirts from Vertbaudet, and will need to supplement it with local shirts, sweaters, and sweatshirts, but this is what I've gotten so far. Fortunately it is still warm here, and their short sleeve shirts are just fine in this weather, so it isn't such a stress to get them clothes immediately.

But for Anneliese, I've been noticing that I barely have clothing for her at all. I always have to search in vain on her shelves for clothing, and often can't even come up with anything for her to wear unless I was really on top of the laundry, so knew I needed to buy her clothes pronto. 
I just picked up an order that I made on NextDirect for her shirts, and I was excited to find some good quality, pretty low cost clothing. I got her 3 long sleeve shirts, plain other than a star on the lower right corner, for $3.15 each, 2 striped long sleeve shirts for $5.50 each, 1 shirt with a unicorn design, and 2 turtleneck shirts for $6.80 each, and one slightly fancier shirt for $9.45. 9 good quality long sleeve shirts for a total of $50.30, averaging out to $5.58 per shirt.

I wanted to buy skirts for her too, as I've been happy with their school uniform skirts that I already bought for her, in terms of quality, fit, and cost, but they are currently out of stock in her size, so I am debating between buying more skirts locally, or sewing them myself, which isn't hard at all. 

I needed tights for her, and have been very happy with the quality and cost of the tights from Next so far, I got her a few two packs. Three of the two packs cost $3.15 per pair of tights, and one two pack of warmer tights costs $5 per pair. One pair of tights, not a two pack, cost $3.67. 
Total for 9 pairs of tights- $32.57, averaging out to $3.62 per pair.

 Last but not least, I bought my boys more socks... because, you know, there never are enough socks to go around.
A 7 pack of socks that works out to be $1.16 per pair of socks, and a 5 pack that is $1.37 per pair, for a total of $14.94 for 12 pairs of socks, working out to be $1.25 per pair.

Total for my order that arrived today was $97.80, which is above the $75 limit for importing things without having to pay tax. I accidentally ordered it all in one go, forgetting about that rule, and resigned myself to paying import tax, but the mail authorities let it through without my needing to pay tax, so that was nice...

A lesson for next time- I need to remember to order these clothing through a cashback site, so that I get refunded part of what I spent on their clothes.

And now- mission for today? Sort through the girls' clothes and get rid of all the clothing that is too small on Rose, decluttering before our move, and making it easier to find the clothes they already have.

For more ideas on how to save money for kids' clothing, check out to find tons of discounts and promo codes on most online retailers! They offer tons of discounts to help you save big when shopping for your children!

How much do you generally pay each year for clothing for your kids? What is your clothing budget? Do you use hand me downs? How many wardrobes do you generally have to buy at a time? What are your techniques for keeping down your kids' clothing costs?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. What cashback site do you use?

    1. I haven't actually done it yet, embarassingly enough, but I heard about a bunch of ones, including one that is simply cashback then with our country's designated ending for web addresses.

  2. I have 2 girls, a 4yo and a 6yo. As of now I always was able to pass on at least a part of the oldest wardrobe to the youngest.
    I try to find their clothes at garage sales or thrift stores first. We also have a neighbor that gave us a couple bags of high quality (used) clothes and shoes for the 4yo... It was like Christmas! I hope this keeps on coming!! (They have a 6yo). Otherwise I shop at places where the prices are low, like Walmart, and I check for sales first. I find it extremely wasteful to pay 30-40$ for a dress that will be worn just a couple times. I don't have a clothing budget, I just buy what they need and stick to basics. I agree that it gets harder to find clothes in thrift stores when they grow up... It's much easier for the 4yo than the 6 yo.
    I used to buy way too much clothes because it was "so cheap" at the thrift store and I realized that they are drowning in them and not using half of it, so I stopped doing that and let them use what they have at the moment and when they really need more then I'll buy more, but just enough for what they truly need.

  3. I love getting hand me downs, but as the kids grow older, I get less and less of them. :( My next favorite place to get clothes are garage sales where in average I pay $1 per piece of clothing (it can go as low as 33c and I never pay more than $3). After that comes a local Goodwill store with used clothing where I can get shirts and pants anywhere from $1 to $5. It is not uncommon for similar items (in terms of type/size/quality) to be priced differently so different trips will be more or less expensive. Downside of garage sales and Goodwill is that there is no guarantee that they will have sizes that I need so if I see something in next couple of sizes up, I just buy it and save it for the next year and that has been working great. I still need to enter a season for which I have no fitting clothing for kids. I usually still need to buy some to get us to the point where everyone has enough to comfortably last between laundry days, but it is so much easier on the budget having to buy just a few items than a complete wardrobe.
    As for the new (not second hand) clothing, I only buy those from sale/clearance racks and discount stores (like Ross, Marshalls...). And of course kids get some as presents from family and friends too. Grandparents got into a great habit of asking what clothes kids currently need and which sizes before buying it so that is another great way of getting what we are missing.

  4. I wish I could shop for your boys and send things your way, we have a good thrift store here and I get all my boys practically new clothes of all sorts for $3 and under. It is a ways away so I buy a lot at once, for every size up to 10 (my oldest is 6) then I store it in big bins by size. I have a 5 year old too who is the same size as his brother so I feel your pain of buying two whole wardrobes when I love hand me downs so much. One thing that helps is we have a friend who has a younger son and I pass all the clothes to her by size every few months and she uses it all for her son and adds in whatever she buys and gets rid of everything that is stained. That way I don't have to store so much for my little boy. She also has a new baby daughter so if my next child is a girl (after 3 boys) she is saving all the clothes for me so I won't have to buy nearly anything. Do you have anyone you know with older girls and younger boys that you could swap clothes with?

    Btw I have never been able to comment on your site as anything other than anonymous, using my google account or name just erases the comment.

  5. We occasionally get Next clothes too. I find them to be great quality. Some of my local kid's clothes are poor quality so it's worth it to me to pay a little more.

  6. Yes, keeping children clothed is a challenge when money is tight. We have 6 grown children and as they were growing up, we had something we called "the magic clothes barrel." It was a heavy cardboard barrel with a lid. When clothing was outgrown, or given to us, we would toss it in there, then when someone needed something, we could almost always find something suitable in the barrel. We home schooled for a number of years, so that made it a bit easier. You are doing such a good job!

  7. There's bound to be a local website (Marktplaats, where I live) where you can buy used kids' clothing from local parents. Now that kidlet's getting bigger there's fewer packet options (where they throw together 4 pairs of pants and 10 t-shirts) but even piecemeal you can find really good deals if you have the patience to stalk the pages. I just recently bought kidlet a pair of solid, quality-leather shoes for 5 euros. I had to ride 10 miles (round trip) to get it but considering that kids' shoes are just as expensive as adult shoes, it was worth it.

    I sometimes buy clothes from the Primark - they have 2-euro t-shirts which makes it worthwhile during the summer months.

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