With three kids the best way I've found to save money is to shop the thrift stores for our kids clothes. It's become second nature to always have a running list of essential pieces that my kids need and when I hit the store look for those items first. Let me also say that we've been pretty lucky that we've gotten a lot of hand me down's for Naomi and I saved quite a bit of stuff from Mia once it became clear that we were going to have more kids. Usually I have to get a few key pieces for Naomi and then shop mostly for Hollis and Mia. I wanted to post my tips and I am hoping it helps you get started!
Look for Name Brands
Know what brands of clothes that you like and look for those name brands. It's amazing to me how often I find Gymboree, Lands End, and Old Navy clothes at a fraction of the cost of the stores. It might be from seasons past, but these are the clothes that hold up really well to the wear and tear of your kid. I also search out clothes from the Circo and Carter's brand, but want to warn you that Circo tends to shrink after a few washings. Buy a size up if you want to prolong the life of the item. Also, be mindful of how much it would be to pay full price for an item. The thrift stores are getting smarter and will often mark up some of the popular brands. It's not a good deal if you're only get a few dollars off the original price.
Be Mindful of your Child's Style
Now that my eldest daughter is almost 7, she's grown more and more picky about what she'll wear. She also has a school dress code that I try to honor when shopping for her. It's easier to have her whole wardrobe be school approved than have two different wardrobes, although she definitely has items that are for weekends only. She's declared that she no longer likes jeans. She wants leggings and stretchy pants only. So rather than spend money on jeans she won't wear, I look for pants that she'll will. For her tops I try to get solid colors and only buy patterned pieces if its a good brand or deal and we LOVE it.
Buy Boys Clothes When you Can
Boys clothes in brand names are hard to come by, especially as they get older. If you see something you like---get it. I frequently shop a size or two up for Hollis because it's really hard to find pieces I love for him. He also is growing so fast that we go through clothes quickly. I'm pretty happy that I can now pass his stuff on to my nephew and am hoping my sister is passing them on to someone too.
Pay Attention to the Color Tag
Every day the thrift store gives 30-50% off certain colored tags. This is when you can really find the best deals. When the twins were little I was able to pick up outfits for less than a dollar. With two babies to shop for you can't beat that.
This year I opted for new swimsuits. Mostly because they were on sale and I wasn't finding much at the thrift stores. Also, Mia really wanted to pick out her own. She wanted a bikini so bad, but I was the mean mom that said not yet! I usually get new PJs too because it's hard to find them as well.
This is not a perfect system. I have been known to buy something and the kids don't wear it at all. Or I buy two of the same thing. In different sizes. Oops.
But, overall we've saved a lot of money using the thrift stores and I love the thrill of the hunt. Do you have any tips to add?