5 Simple Ways to Save on Children’s Clothes You Need to Try Now

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Children's clothes can be very expensive, but they don't have to be. Follow these 5 tips to spend less!

As a father to three seemingly always growing kids I can tell you one thing – they’re always outgrowing and destroying their clothes. It’s a fact of life and thus we’re always looking for ways to save money on children’s clothes as a result.

To write this post, I went looking for a number as to what the average family spends on children’s clothing. I really couldn’t find anything specific, but did find that, according to the National Retail Federation, just over $231 is spent per child on back to school clothing. Well, I can tell you one thing. We’ve not spent that much on clothes for our kids for the entire past year!

That’s not to say that we’re better than the average American family, just that we place priority on other things – namely putting money in their 529 accounts as opposed to dropping $100+ on a swanky outfit from Jack and Jill.

Why you ask?

It’s one thing really. Are you ready? It’s because they outgrow them in a blink of an eye! That’s also not to mention the fact we don’t even spend that kind of money on our clothing. Yes, your kids may want the latest super hero outfit and they might feel they’re not part of the “cool” club but we’ve found that shopping for kids clothes provides a perfect opportunity to teach our children about moneyand thus kills two birds with one stone.

So, if you’re looking for a way to ditch the designer children’s clothes and save some money, hopefully these simple yet effective tips will get you started.

How to Save Money on Children’s Clothes


Go Secondhand. This is THE best way to save money on children’s clothes in my opinion. Since kids grow so darn quickly you can often find awesome outfits at an absolute fraction of the cost.

*Related: Need to buy your child a cell phone? Read our guide on the best cell phone plans for kids and teens that won’t break the budget.*

It’s nothing for Mrs. Frugal Rules to find outfits, with the tags still on, that might’ve been $25-$30 new for under $5.

Recycle. If you have multiple children keep the clothes. Who cares if it has a snag in it? Who cares if it has been worn already? I can guarantee you that your two year old isn’t going to give two shakes if his older brother wore the same outfit. In fact, we didn’t have to buy a single outfit for the youngest little Frugal Rule for nearly the first two years of his life because he just didn’t need it.

Sell your clothes. Mrs. Frugal Rules started doing this after our first. There is a really cool semi-annual consignment sale in Omaha that’s specific to children’s clothes. Every spring and fall we fill the car with things that are either outgrown or not needed any longer.

The funds we get from the sale are turned right back around to buy what we need at the moment. I can think of one sale out of the past five or so years where we actually had to spend our own money on children’s clothes.

You may not have something similar in your city. If not, you most certainly have consignment shops in your area. Find the best consignment stores in your city and sell your clothes and use those funds to buy new to you clothing.

Shop Offseason. Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought a winter coat in April or May. We’ve done it numerous times for both us and the kiddos. Seeing as it’s usually in the 60s or 70s by then we have no need for it, but you can save some serious money on children’s clothes by doing it. They might not even wear it for a year or two as it could be too big but it saves us a chunk of money. If not offseason, check out the Kohl’s clearance section for big savings.

Ignore Collections. Frozen anyone? Marketers know what they’re doing – I should know as I’m married to one. 🙂 This is especially the case with children’s clothing. They create entire outfits and lines targeted at your kids to make them want it. I can tell you one thing though, your kid is likely going to care less if they have every single line from the collection – instead buy one item on sale and the rest can be standard clothes.

The Bottom Line


Many, if not all, of these tips are rather simple but they’re highly effective and they require little work. Ultimately, much of it comes down to making choices. Most of life is that way really. You need to choose whether or not you’d like to spend like the “average” person or if you’d rather be more purposeful about your spending. Yes, you might be able to “afford” that designer kids outfit from Jack and Jill or Alex and Alexa but it’s on us as parents to really determine if that’s the best use of our money.


If you’re a parent, how do you save money on children’s clothes? Do you feel pressured to spend more to keep up with the Joneses? Do you shop second hand for yourself?

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • Hannah says:

    I’ve literally spent less than $30 on my son’s clothing over the course of his lifetime (now nearly 2). My trick is to ask my friends who are done having kids if I can buy clothing from them. Normally they are so happy to get rid of the clothes that they just give it to me (I still give a token amount of cash and tell them to give it to their son). With the exception of socks and shoes everything else has been a garage sale find or a hand me down from friends.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s awesome Hannah! We’ve done that very thing as well. We’ve found that as you start having multiple kids, other parents are always up for getting rid of as much as possible.

  • Rachel says:

    Garage sales have been amazing in my area for getting amazing deals on clothing as we prepare for baby number 1. I think the other thing I have noticed is that some people buy way too much clothing for their kids.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Garage sales are a great way to save money on kids clothes Rachel! You’re spot on with what you’ve noticed – we’ve bought very little in terms of new stuff, but between friends and family buying stuff for us we were inundated with clothes.

  • Kayla @ Femme Frugality says:

    Some of these are great ways to save on adult clothes too. Even the “ignore collections” part is good for adults. In my version, I try to ignore trends for the most part and only get 1-2 trendy items and the rest more classic pieces.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, I ignore them altogether. Although, since I work from home it’s pretty simple to rock the shorts/sandals wardrobe. 🙂

  • Kalie says:

    I absolutely agree with these tips. When people talk about how much kids cost, I have to believe they are spending more than necessary on clothes. We have a boy & girl and have hardly spent anything on clothing. We look for hand-me-downs first, then thrift stores, and occasionally consignment shops. Garage sales and Craigslist lots are also good sources. We are lucky to have so many friends willing to share hand-me-downs, and try to return the favor to new parents. Not that it’s important, but a perk of used clothing is that your kid is dressed in something other than the current Disney character or Carter’s animal of the year!

    • John Schmoll says:

      I could not agree more Kalie! We’ve spent virtually nothing on clothes – especially when you compare it against the “average.” Between friends/family buying us clothes after each child being born and all the ways to get second hand clothes we’ve done just fine.

  • Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    I practice buying clothes off season as some clothes are on big sale. And, I am thankful that my wife knows how to sew, which means it saves us from spending much money on clothes.

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