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Back to School Clothes on a Budget

With a new school year comes new clothes!

We just made it through a hot, and dirty summer in our play clothes waiting to see how much our kiddos will grow before we invest even more money into their wardrobes.  

If you aren’t careful, you can spend a lot of money on kids’ clothes.  They grow fast, and it’s hard not to cave every time you see something adorable – which is often.  Now add in how rough they are on their clothes and it feels like we are constantly buying clothes.  Am I right?!

Here are my tips for buying affordable clothes:

  1. Buy for next season at season close.

For example, this Fall, I’ll start looking at clearance racks for the next size up for next Summer.  I can usually get brand new clothes really cheap.  Store these clothes somewhere else so that you, or your little ones, won’t get into them too early.

Warning: This comes with risk! I’ve done this for 5 years, but last Spring season, my daughter grew too fast and skipped a whole size.  I had to start from scratch, but I had a lot for consignment!

2. Don’t count out resale clothes. 

Consignment stores like Stuff or Puddle Jumpers in Marion only take really good quality clothes.  Plus they run specials so you can get a greater discount based on their sale days.

3. Use Coupons. 

Look, we aren’t cutting coupons out of the Sunday paper anymore, but there are certain situations where it’s actually worth the work of tracking deals.  For example, whenever I go to Kohl’s to return an Amazon order and I get that 25% coupon, I use it.  Best case scenario: I hit their clearance racks, get an additional 25% off and it gets even cheaper.  Worst case, I have to use it on socks because socks are made of actual gold now I guess?  

Tip: Try just googling “[Store] coupon code” while in the checkout lane to see if you can find a quick 40% off online.

4. Earning and strategically using “cash back”. 

Old Navy has a credit card that earns you “cash back” you can use on clothes.  So I use it at the grocery store a few times and I earn myself $50 in Old Navy cash.  Kohl’s Cash is great too.  I got a new pair of Nike shoes for school for $15.  They were already on sale, then I used my Kohl’s cash (that I got through my clearance rack shopping spree) online (so I don’t buy anything I don’t really need) to save even more. 

Don’t forget about the second part of the process: getting rid of your old stuff and trying to get some money back from your investment.

This isn’t very fun because it really is a complicated process to keep track of seasons, sizes, what has holes, and what they just refuse to wear. But as you resell clothes, you can put that money in safekeeping and use it to buy the next season or size of clothes.  

Breaking it down, there are really only 2 groups: Clothes fit for resale or ruined. As you go through clothes, whatever has rips or stains gets thrown or recycled.  

Next, as kids grow out of their clothes, start a tote or pile until you have enough to make a consignment run. I use Puddle Jumpers in Marion, but I know many people use Stuff or “Once Upon a Child.” Garage sales are great but those are annual so takes a lot more patience. And I feel like everyone has the best luck with Facebook marketplace if you place your clothes together in big lots to sell.

Finally, whatever comes back from your consignment run gets donated. Don’t hold on to it to try to sell somewhere else.  Find a family that has similar ages of kids you can gift, find a local clothing shelter (like North Liberty community pantry), or drop it off at trusty old Goodwill to get it out of your house!

What are some tips you follow to find cheap clothes?

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