Friday, June 27, 2014

Frugal Fridays. How to save money on clothes.

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It's crazy to think that there are only a few days left in this month. Before we know it, the stores will be flooded with back to school sales and deals. But not all of those deals are worth the attention...

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a very sweet friend of mine who is also a mother of six. She complained that she spends a small fortune on clothes before the next school year begins and asked me if I knew of any ways to cut back on spending during this not so cheap season. Honestly, I always feel flattered when somebody asks for advice since I'm no financial guru, but because I have two boys who burn through clothes like there is no tomorrow, I had a few ideas up my sleeve.

1. Shop thrift stores. 

There are some really awesome deals hidden on the racks of thrift stores if you don't mind slightly used options. Since kids grow like weeds, I find thrift stores a great way to score but spend very little. Many thrift stores also have sales, like 50% off a certain tag color, holiday sales etc. Don't overlook small local stores too. The bigger chain thrift stores might have higher prices because they have more expenses to cover (like rent) and bigger goals. I found some really great deals in the small church stores in my area. Check out what I got for no more than $2 a piece for my 7-year old:

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Yes, even jeans. On that topic, jeans for boys are almost impossible to find in thrift stores. Most of them are in terrible condition. Keep that in mind when you create your shopping list. Another thing I wouldn't buy in thrift stores are shoes. There are few things out there nastier than stinky, sweaty boy's shoes. I did score a few awesome deals for myself before though, with tags still attached. I'm very picky when it comes to shoes but they do exist. Like one of my all-time favorite pairs - rocking pink, brand-new Naturalizer loaves ($70 originally, paid $5). Got them more than a year ago and still love everything about them. So comfy:

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2. Yard sales

Yard sales are another great way to score nice pieces for pennies. Before you start shopping, be sure to have a list of what you need and don't get caught up on too many deals. Be sure to check every garment for holes and stains. The pieces that are on hangers are usually a little better quality than the ones you have to dig for in boxes, so be picky. Another thing that's important to remember is that because you can't really try clothes on, be sure to have a measuring tape with you when you shop.

3. Clearance racks, sales and store coupons

If shopping for used stuff isn't exactly your thing, you can still score some awesome deals on brand-new pieces in the store. Many major stores have clearance racks, especially with last season's items for a fracture of the original price. Before you shop, be sure to check the store website for coupons. Places like Kmart, Target, Kohls, JC Penney and Old Navy occasionally offer some great coupons that you can often use on top of their sales or clearance prices. And if you join their mailing lists, you might get some exclusive coupons delivered straight to your inbox.

4. Stick to basics. 

It's easy to get caught up on looking for a deal but be sure to shop for things that would mix and match with each other. Shop for colors that would work with your child's (or your own) wardrobe. And even though the kids don't wear as many accessories, simple things like colorful leggins can quickly transform the look of a boring shirt.

5. Shop quality but take chances too.

Just because a garment comes from a fancy store, doesn't necessarily mean it's going to last. Last year I decided to conduct an experiment and bought my older one jeans from a well-known store (read, expensive) and another pair from Walmart. I wanted to see how long either of them would last. To my amazement, even though the first pair was almost three times more expensive, they survived the same amount of time as the cheaper choice (about two months). When you shop, don't look for brands, unless it's a big deal for you, look for true quality. Honestly, one of the easiest ways is to check how well the buttons are attached. If they are barely hanging, you can expect that the rest of seams wouldn't be much different. That is especially important to remember when you shop for kids shoes.

But that actually leads me to the another part of it - taking chances. Last year I bought a pair of really nice running shoes for my son for school in August. Well, who would've thought that before October rolled in, he would outgrow them! This was a very wrong time to add a shoe expense to our budget but I was lucky to stumble upon a great sale on kids' shoes in Walmart. There were a few pairs of running shoes on clearance for just $5. They looked pretty nice and I thought that if they survived at least until Christmas, I'd be happy. Well who would've thought that they would last my child through the whole year! And let me tell you, he's not gentle on shoes! He climbs walls like a Spiderman and hangs on trees like a monkey so it was a really pleasant surprise and a deal worth every penny of those $5.

These are just a few ideas that we discussed but, I hope, they gave her a good start on back to school clothes shopping.

What are your secrets when you shop for clothes?

And before I go, I wanted to share with you today's outfit since it's a good example of many points I made in this post:

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Skinny but very comfy maternity jeans (thrifted, Goodwill) - $5.99
Shirt (Old Navy clearance rack) - $4.99
Toms knock-off shoes (JC Penney) - on sale for $19.99 but used a $10 off $25 coupon. So $12?

And that's how we roll :) What about you?


  1. We are going to a wedding in Jamaica in August and I've bought most of my holiday wardrobe from charity shops (some of which need a little bit of altering). There are a few thing I will not buy second hand - underwear, swimming costumes and shoes. oh and pyjamas.

    1. Oh, I second underwear, swimsuits and pajamas... Brr... I do occasionally buy shes but only for myself and only brand-new.

  2. We only buy on SALE!! Soon after the 4th the good summer sales will get going as stores bring in the fall and school clothing. It's a great time to get the deals! I already have my list ready for some bargin shopping. Maxi dresses for me, shorts for hubby, polo shirts for the grand boys, and dresses for the grand girls. With a wind breaker or sweater these peices will get us threw until Oct/Nov here in the south. Love that baby bump! :)

  3. As you mentioned, I found from both working in and shopping at second hand stores there are many more good girls' clothes available that boys. I think this is for two reasons. Girls tend to have more clothes and they aren't as hard on them as boys. Anyway, this means that you should definitely check out second hand stores if you have a girl.

    1. Oh,most definitely :) I'm already drooling over cute girls' dresses in my local stores :)

  4. Look at you! You look great, girl! Love the outfit! I agree with you- thrift stores are great to shop in- especially for kids clothes. I also have a hard time finding jeans for my son in thrift stores. I try to keep a look out for sales/clearances at regular stores when I need jeans for him.
    Hope you are feeling well and enjoying your summer! :)

  5. I couldn't agree with you more... some of my favorite work shirts come from Target, and some of the ones I ended up donating came from more expensive stores (even when I got them on sale)! Bad thing about Target ones is that they dont last forever... makes me sad. I had the most wonderful cream/black stripped shirt. I loved that thing, until it started developing random holes in the back. No rhyme or reason (I wash them carefully), so I was very disappointed to have to get rid of them. Tip: If you buy something and you love it, go back for more! I did that with my favorite pair of red-wine shoes, and now that my first pair is about to give up the ghost, I am happy to have a backup!

    1. That's a great tip! I honestly found a few of my favorite things at Walmart (like my $5 brown shoes). Granted, I'm a stay-at-home Mom, and my clothes tend to last longer but I still love those things!

  6. I have a friend who buys quality brands and wears them only a few times, so I reap the benefits. When my boys were young, I made sure everyone knew I enjoyed hand-me-downs. I accepted bags of clothes with the stipulation that whatever I did not use could be passed along to the local Salvation Army. Sometimes acquaintances would like to offer to pass along clothing but are afraid to insult (really?) so make sure people know you are open to the idea :)

    1. That's a nice friend to have, lol :) My SIL gives us a lot of hand-me-downs, especially from her boy. He's 12, so I usually just pack his clothes away until we need it.

  7. Great tips! :) We do the same as well... But not 100% so I'm trying to really only buy what we need! Then wear it well & wear it out!! You look great, Lena!! :)

  8. You look great! We buy on sale, and keep the list of needs to a minimum. My boys each have one pair of shoes at a time (athletic shoes) + flip flops or something for throwing on outside/at the pool. They of course also have soccer cleats. ;-) And you cannot find boys jeans at thrift shops, because they are so hard on them!

    Luckily, we need a lot fewer pair of jeans in California. The boys wear shorts 9 months after the year. They also lose their hoodies often, so we buy them when they are $10 or less. They get lots of shirts via camps, sports, etc.

    For myself, I try to wear what I have, clean my closet so I don't clutter it with things that don't fit or I won't wear. And, I shop pretty much exclusively on sale and at outlets, with sales & coupons. Buying expensive clothes isn't a priority for me. I'd rather go on vacation. ;-)

    1. Haha, talking about vacations... We just came back from California :) San Francisco, to be exact :) I'd rather go on vacations too :)

  9. Great tips! The sales in the USA are far better than in Ireland. Here they only reduce by about 20-30% or if you are very lucky maybe 40-50%

  10. Have you heard of clothes swap parties? They are a great way of adding to your wardrobe.


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