Money is tight for many families across the country, and the pandemic has only worsened most parents’ financial situations—and yet, the kids are growing fast. You’re lucky to get through a couple of months before you have to replace their sneakers, plus kids always seem to need sports jerseys, uniforms or other seasonal gear, and that’s to say nothing of the wardrobe you need for work (or for being properly comfy at home).
You already scour the sale racks, never pay full price, and refuse to buy anything just because of a label. So what else can you do to make your clothing budget stretch farther? Read on to learn seven ways to save more money on clothes.
1. When It Comes to Fast Fashion, Go Slow
Fast fashion is cheap, cute, and always changing. It also doesn’t hold up very well and often falls apart after a single wear. This is by design—makers of fast fashion want you to have to buy something new all the time. But all those $5 tees add up! Remember, cheap is not free. If you only get one or two wears out of an item, it really isn’t much of a bargain.
Instead of sticker price, consider the cost-per-wear price—which usually means buying better quality items. They hold up longer, costing you less over time. If you hit off-season racks, sales, and thrift stores (remember, these well-made pieces will still look great gently used) you can often get pricier brands for fast fashion prices. And for quality kids’ clothes—which might still look brand new by the time they grow out of them—you can recoup some of the money you spent by reselling the clothing later on a site like eBay or Kidzen.
2. Expand Your Skills
As mentioned above, fast fashion is designed to fall apart. By learning (or refreshing) your skills with a needle and thread, you can really save a lot of dough. Sewing a button takes just a minute or two, but it saves you from having to buy yet another shirt. Teach your kids to sew too!
Tasks like securing a hem, mending a rip, or adding a button are super easy, and the whole fam will benefit from having this practical skill.
3. Read Labels
Before clicking ‘buy now’ on any item, check the care instructions. Think twice before buying anything that’s dry clean only, because washable clothes are far less expensive to own over the long term. Also, if the label says ‘hang to dry,’ don’t fry the thing in the dryer. In addition to following care instructions, another thing you can do to make clothes last is to simply take good care of them. Teach your kids to hang up items when they take them off, and to not over-stuff drawers which can lead to pulls and tears, shortening their useful life.
4. Skip the Flash Sales
Sales can be a great way to save, but flash sales tend to short-circuit our rational brains. People almost always end up buying stuff they don’t need, wasting money in the process. That said, definitely take advantage of the big annual or semi-annual sales in the year. These are generally held right after holidays, and offer serious discounts on things you’ll actually use.
5. Maximize Your Basics
Being a parent doesn’t mean you have to wear the same thing every day (even though plenty of us do!), but having a core wardrobe that you can change up a bit is easier on the wallet than having a million items to pick from. It’s also easier on your parenting brain, which already has to make too many decisions every day! Decide on some favorite basic items to mix and match, and then switch up the accessories you use (which are much more affordable). Get your black leggings and sweater to go from day to night by swapping the vibrant scarf you wore to the PTA meeting with a faux pearl necklace for an evening out.
6. Shop For Your Real Life
We all have dreams, but when the credit card comes out make sure your feet are firmly planted in real life. Resist splurging on boots for the kids until you know for sure they’ll want to go hiking a bunch this summer. Consider skipping the dress that you think is oh-so-cute but your kid will probably say is too itchy. Don’t snag the markdown gear for a sport that your child isn’t completely sure about just because you really want them to play it. Buying for a life you do not currently have is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
The one exception? Go ahead and buy your kids’ clothes a little bigger than they need. We all know how they have the habit of growing several inches the second we get them anything new! Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for shoes though, since shoes in the wrong size can hurt kids’ feet or put them at risk of a fall.
7. Hold a Swap
A great way to score new stuff and declutter your house in one fell swoop is to hold an exchange. Send out a blast to family, friends, and neighbors to get everyone in on the fun. Swap meet-ups don’t need to be limited to clothes. We all have lots of stuff we don’t use. Swapping lets you trade the unused for the useful, all without spending a dime and while helping the environment by keeping useful items out of landfills. Overall, using these tips to save money on your family’s clothes is a win/win/win!