So many people say that kids are expensive. They certainly can be. However, sometimes they are not. It can run the whole spectrum.
I don’t know where are on that spectrum. On some things we are extremely spendy. On others we are extremely thrifty. In the end, it probably averages out.
Here are some of the things that we don’t spend much money on: clothes, toys, food (they don’t eat much, and they will only eat the cheapest, processed, most unhealthy foods).
Here are some of the things we spend a lot of money on: private school/day care, after school activities.
Today, I’d like to cover about some of the ways we saved money for back-to-school clothing shopping. Typically, I’d give my old standby, “Go to TJ Maxx and Marshalls.” It’s always served me well in the past.
1. Outlet Malls are Back in Style
This year we did something a little different. We found ourselves travelig near the Tanger Outlets in Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. I didn’t have very high hopes and thought it would be a waste of time, but I decided to humor my wife. Besides, with stores like Gymboree, there will definitely be some cheap clothes.
I hadn’t been outlet shopping in years, maybe even a decade. I used to love it around 2002, but it seemed that the stores caught on and made the deals a little worse and the quality of clothes a little worse.
Well, in my recent experience, the deals are back! Maybe it’s because retail clothing companies have run into difficult times?
My wife and I were tempted so much we ended up upgrading our own wardrobes as well as the kids. We picked up a mix of very frugal clothes (the aforementioned Gymboree) and some “special” clothes. Due to the private school, there’s a certain amount of “keeping up with the joneses” when it comes to clothing. When it’s time to wear more formal clothes, we won’t stick out like sore thumbs.
2. Kohl’s is King
I think that Kohl’s is a strange store. It’s almost like they intentionally price some stuff at $30, just so they can put it at 60% off and sell it for what the real price should be. It’s probably not as bad as I make it out, but we had no problem finding tons of quality clothes on clearance.
The other weird thing about Kohl’s is that they allow you stack discount after discount. My wife has the credit card (the only store card I think we have) and got a mailing for an additional 30% off. Then there’s Kohl’s cash for spending so much money. I think we ended up getting around $300 worth of clothes for $100.
At this point, there’s an argument to be made that we didn’t really save much money at all. It’s very popular in for personal finance bloggers to say that the best way to save is to not spend the money in the first place. I don’t think we overbought considering we have two kids to outfit and could also get some summer clothes for next year.
3. Shopping My Mother’s Closet
My mother has always done a fantastic job combing the a second hand store in her town. Her ability to pick up any kind of clothing, even winter coats, for around $2 or less is one of the reasons why we have never really had to spend much on kids clothes.
The store hasn’t has as many deals as it has in the past, but my mother still had quite a pile of clothes in the closet. I know not everyone has a bargain-hunting grandmother. However, if you happen to have a store like this one and the time to drop-in, it can pay off.
4. That Neighbor Down the Street
I’m pretty friendly with my neighbors. That means that I give them a head-nod and half a wave every now and again. I’m exaggerating that part a bit, but most people tend to keep to themselves.
There’s a couple of neighbors who I talk with a little more… usually while our dogs are running around on the lawn. Earlier this year one of my neighbors offered their kids’ old blazers. I obviously said I’d take them, but it hadn’t come up again in months. Earlier this weekend, we found a present at our door, two blazers that appear as if they were worn only once.
I had originally intended to write this article to cover the outlet malls and Kohl’s as a way to get cheap clothes.
However, I felt like it was necessary to point out that we do have a couple of unique sources for cheap clothes that help out. You can consider them bonus ideas such as looking at second-hand stores yourself, or maybe even BEING the helpful neighbor paying it forward.
What are some of the ways you save money on clothes (either kids or your own)? Let me know in the comments.
People need to get to know their neighbors for a lot of reasons, though that’s not the norm now days in our wood fence, rear entry neighborhoods. I do my own yard work and walk our dog a lot so I know more than many people. My one neighbor has ladders of various sizes, another has almost every tool ever made, and they are happy to let me borrow stuff(in return I provide free pet care when they travel). I’ve recently had another neighbor offer his pickup truck to help with something. So far I haven’t manage to repay him, and he seems just fine with it.
On your comment about “best way to save money is not not spend it in the first place”. I think that is a spurious argument. If you have a need, and not a want, you have to spend money to satisfy that need. That is a given. So you have to spend money, what you are commenting on is how to spend the least amount on that need.
Argue Needs vs Wants all day long, but needs have to be satisfied. Clothing kids that will survive a school year is a need.
Lazy Man says
I think there’s a spectrum. As Joe points out a little later, clothing kids can be done fairly cheap (Old Navy is a good tip), but we wanted to have some of the fashion so that they’ll fit in with their classmates. That’s more of a want.
It’s almost like buying a high-end handbag, but at least we got it discounted.
There are very few kids in our neighborhood. :(
We haven’t shopped much for back to school clothes yet. The weather is still warm enough to wear summer clothes. Pretty soon, we’ll have to find some new long pants for RB40Jr. I’m sure all his long pants are too short now. He’s really hard on his clothes.
Usually, we go to Old Navy for that, but I’ll check out Kohl when we have a chance. Stacking discount sounds really good.
Lazy Man says
We did some shopping at Old Navy as well. It’s probably fairly similar to Kohl’s.
We bought all the long pants now, even though we probably could have put it off a month to fall. I didn’t want to rush around for that just after FinCon.
My best tip was always to sign up for e-mail deals from any stores you would like to buy kids’ clothes from. Then, when you get those 30%, 40%, 50% off deals use it to buy stuff on clearance for next year. I always had a rack of clothes in my oldest’s closet of too-big new clothes I got really cheap. Some of those were bought at physical stores and some were from online. I’ve always been able to keep my kids dressed in clothes they like using this method. Of course, the younger brother mostly wore hand-me-downs from big brother. We’ve never done a “back to school” big clothes shopping outing. Instead, I try to buy some things every month and spread the expenses out over the whole year. Maybe it helps that my kids are boys and don’t want to have to actually go shopping. Its getting so much harder to get good deals though now that both my kids wear adult mens sizes!
Lazy Man says
Good tip. That’s similar to what we did with Kohl’s, but it came through the snail mail.
My kids are boys as well, but at age 4 and 5, we’ve just started to get into the difficult that they don’t want to go. Fortunately, we can go when they are at their grandmother’s house.
Marc @ Vital Dollar says
I don’t shop very much, but when I’m at Kohl’s I do wonder how much they actually sell at full price. I agree, it seems like they know they’re going to discount most things by a big percent. Still, getting $300 worth of clothes for $100 is pretty great.
Isaac, Live Fi and Free says
Kohls is the best! There’s one just down the road from me. They have their kohls bucks program and it always seems like they are trying to give you money back at the checkout. I don’t even know how they stay in business.
June Sinteller says
To save money on back to school clothes, I prefer Old Navy, especially because it lets me stay in the budget. Today’s kids want to be what they like to call “on fleek” with fashion and I sometimes wonder how simple we were back in the 80s and 90s.
These days, Old Navy and Joe’s are the only economical way to shop. Don’t know about Kohl. Don’t you think?
We love going to second-hand clothes stores when buying the children clothes. All the clothes they have outgrown get donated to the less fortunate or our neighbours who have younger children.