Garage sale kids clothes

*An example of my loot from a successful morning of garage sale shopping for my son last summer*

Find the next two posts in this series here:

Part 2
Part 3

Inspired by my own recent efforts in stocking up on affordable children’s clothes for my two little ones, I thought I would share my own methods for making sure that we have all the clothes, shoes, jackets, etc. that they need, for as little cost as possible.

The larger our family grows, the more important it is for me to stay on top of this area if I want to keep from spending a fortune (and wow, what a fortune can be spent on children’s clothing if you’re not a careful, frugal shopper!). To this point, I have found it easy to clothe our two children, fast growing as they are, for around $100-150 a year total (not including gifts given by grandparents, of course). We probably actually have too many clothes for them and could buy even less, and both are usually decked out in name-brand, attractive clothing.

So how do I do it?

1) By keeping good tabs on what I already have

At least 2 or 3 times a year, you will find me sorting through what the children are currently wearing and what clothes they have coming up in the bins/storage bags of their next-size-up and next season clothing. I write a careful inventory of everything they have that will still fit for a while and every thing that they will soon grow into. Then, considering the season and the particular clothing needs for the weather, I am able to use that list as the basis for another very detailed list of exactly what I think they will need in the upcoming months.

2) By using what I’m given

Although we haven’t been given too many hand-me-downs for our daughter, we have received oodles of bags of clothing for our son. Though not all of it has been in nice condition or was clothing that I would necessarily use (no, I’m not a clothes snob, but some baby and kids clothes are just too dated, worn or out of style for even a frugalite like me!), by carefully sorting through everything I have been able to find many good items and set them aside for future use.

3) By storing my clothes carefully

I used to use Rubbermaid bins for storing kids clothes, but over time found them to be too expensive and too large to store. In recent years, I’ve switched over to the XL and XXL Ziploc bags instead. These are so much easier to store underneath a bed or a crib, or up on a high shelf in a closet.

I store clothes by gender and size. For instance, I’ll use one bag for Baby Girl 0-3 and 3-6 mths, and another for Toddler Boy Size 2T. Keeping it organized this way will serve me in the future, for our next baby (because this will be our first baby that will
already have bagfuls of clothing waiting for them!). I also use this system when I receive clothing of mixed sizes, so that it is all sorted and set aside for when my kids reach the next size up. I just pull out the bag I need, and find out exactly what clothes we already have and what we still need.

4) By shopping ahead

This is probably the biggest thing that saves me money and hassle. When I go through and do my clothing inventory, I note exactly what the kids need for the upcoming season and in what size. Then, if I am out and find clothing on a great clearance sale, or stumble upon an incredible garage sale, I can stock up and know that I am truly buying what I need.

I have done this so much in the past year, and can really see the positive effects of it. Last summer, I found several garage sales with an abundance of toddler boys clothes and a bit of girls clothes for my 4 year old. I bought a really good mix of clothing in several sizes too big for my son, including pajamas, shirts, pants, shoes, winter jacket and hat, etc. I tried to guesstimate what size he would fit in which season (up to two years ahead of his size at that time) and bought accordingly. So far, everything has been just perfect, and it is so wonderful to open up a bag and discover how many great things I already have for him.

By always staying ahead of the game, you save yourself so much money and time. I only buy when the opportunity is right, and then I try to really make the most of it. My husband is happy to let me do it by myself, because it’s such a game and a challenge for me, and I have a feeling I get a bit obsessive about it (or maybe a lot obsessive), but he is always impressed with the stash I walk away with at the end. The photo at the beginning of this post is from a garage saling day last summer, when I spent a mere $16 and walked away with everything you see on that coffee table!

Another great perk to this is that I don’t need to stress out about finding what they need at the last minute, nor do I ever have to run out and pay full price for necessary items. This winter, I have focused my attention on really stocking up on everything the kids need for not only spring and summer, but for the fall and into the beginning of winter as well. I know that life will be hectic this summer, especially with a large garden and lots of preserving, and then a new baby in August! I want to have one less thing to have to think about come September!

Next week I’ll share more about where I shop, how I plan my shopping trips and specific techniques I use!

How do you clothe your kids without breaking the bank? What techniques do you use for organizing their clothes and knowing what to buy when you find great deals?

More frugal tips to be found over at Biblical Womanhood!