Kids -- they're fun, they're entertaining, their development is fascinating to watch and they grow unbelievably fast. Too fast.
And they're only little once. You want to cuddle them and play with them and get all the snuggles in and the sweet moments captured ... heck, let's be honest. You want to stop buying clothes for them every three months. Regardless of whether you have a toddler or a child who's in a growth spurt, sometimes it seems like all the spending is a never-ending cycle.
But kids' clothes are so cute. We totally get it -- not wanting to skip out on the latest styles or the best brands. We've assembled eight tips to help you keep your child in all the latest fashions (well, if you're into that sort of thing), while still saving some money and not feeling like you're draining your checking account every time you step foot into the mall. For that matter: Stay out of the traditional malls! Let's dive in.
1.) Shop at the outlet mall versions of your favorite stores.
Hanna Andersson, for example, is ridiculously classic, yet trendy. Yet we cannot justify buying those items at full price. But during a great sale or at the outlet? Yes please, count us in! Also, Ralph Lauren sends out incredible coupons -- quite regularly, and yes, through the snail mail -- if you have one of those stores near your house. Even Old Navy has outlet stores, and its clearance racks are pretty outstanding, regardless. We've found tops and bottoms for $1 apiece at the outlets.
2.) Hit up Target.
Of course, Target isn't exactly a secret. But are you getting the most bang for your buck at Target? Shop the sales rack. Buy a season ahead off the sales rack, if you can predict what size your child will be wearing. Get the Red Card -- it's 5 percent off every purchase, every day, no matter what. You can even set up a debit card, so the money just comes out of your checking account like it would anyway. And be sure to download the Cartwheel or Target app for the latest deals and ads, which is known to offer great deals and savings. Plus, Cat & Jack (one of Target's main in-house brands) is so stylish!
3.) Peruse Facebook and Facebook Marketplace.
We're here to report that the resale market is alive and well. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of B/S/T groups (that stands for buy/sell/trade) for used, brand-name clothing, along with people selling "lots" of clothes; for example: a 4-year-old summer boy's lot, which could include something like six pairs of shorts, three pairs of pants, 20 shirts, two bathing suits and several pairs of shoes and sandals. Often, those are listed in good used condition for about $30 to $50. Also, for parents who buy an expensive item such as a Christmas dress or a Halloween costume and put it on their child once, you'll often see those things listed on Facebook for half the cost, just worn the one time.
4.) Two words: Upscale resale.
These stores are an absolute gold mine. Oftentimes, this is a bit of a safer bet than buying off Facebook -- just in that you're purchasing from an actual vendor, often who has to comb through his or her inventory and ensure the clothes are of quality condition and brand. We've seen some really high-end brands at these types of stores: Burberry, Lilly Pulitzer, Mini Boden and Janie and Jack, to name a few. And for a small fraction of the price you'd pay at the mall or online. Not to mention, you can sell your gently used items at these shops, as well.
5.) Try TJ Maxx and Marshall's.
If you're looking for athletic-type brands (Nike, Under Armour, Reebok) or any harder-to-find designers for kids clothes (Cynthia Rowley, Nicole Miller or Kate Spade), you can sometimes find them at these stores. It's hard to say what TJ Maxx will have at one store vs. another across town, so the selection can vary quite drastically. But if you have an afternoon open to comb through the racks and seek out exactly whatever you're looking for, these stores are top notch. Paying $7.99 for a pack of onesies that Carter's would charge you triple the price for? Yes, yes and yes.
6.) Avoid big-box baby stores.
We don't want to call out too many retailers for charging full price. Everyone's just here to make money, right? Just keep in mind that although some stores charge full price, you shouldn't have to pay it. Avoid big-box stores, or at least have a coupon on hand if you're going to take the plunge.
7.) Buy a size or two up.
Obviously, you don't want your child to look silly, so only do this if you can get away with it. But when it comes to certain items, such as swimsuits, snowsuits, winter coats and pajamas, we've found that you can usually get away with sizing up once or twice. No one likes tight PJs anyway, you know? And with coats or sweatshirts, you could roll the sleeves and maybe eke out another season or two. Speaking personally, I had my daughter in the same bathing suit from the time she was 18 months until nearly 3. Sure, it was big at first and then a little tight at the end, but if I'm spending $20 on an item for my toddler, I want to make sure to get the most out of it.
8.) Repurpose what you have.
Worn-down T-shirts, or even ones with a little stain or two, can make for acceptable PJ tops. You don't need coordinated sets every night, you know? Although they are cute! Oh, and you can buy greens, grays, yellows and light blues -- gender-neutral colors -- if you have girls and boys, so that there's more variety when it comes to hand-me-downs and being able to reuse more outfits from one child to the next, regardless of gender.
It can be hard, trying to keep up with the trends and keep your children in new-enough clothes so that you're not doing laundry three times a week. But if you're smart about it and you plan ahead, you can save a lot of money.
Any tips we missed, or tricks that you swear by? Let us know in the comments below.