How to dress your children on a budget

Dressing your children can be expensive because the little darlings just keep growing. Just when you think you’ve got their summer outfits sorted, they’ll have a growth spurt and all of a sudden, their wrists and ankles will be protruding from hems that were perfect only two weeks ago. And let’s not even discuss the shoes…

But here’s the thing. You don’t have to buy an extensive seasonal range of clothes of every description, colour and level of smartness. Children are fairly uncomplicated to dress, and if you reduce your clothing requirements and rely on a few handy tips for economical shopping, you can significantly reduce your kids’ clothing budget. Here are eight tips from the 1Life team:

  1. Work out what they really need, and only buy that

Don’t impulse-buy children’s clothes. At the start of every new season, go through everything in your children’s cupboards and make a list of what they have and what they need. Most children have far more clothes than they actually wear and tend to rotate the same three outfits week in and week out, so don’t overdo it and buy only the essentials.

  1. Go to low-cost stores first

If you want to buy cheaper clothes, go to less expensive stores. It really is as simple as that. Don’t justify high costs by saying, “It’s just what T-shirts cost at Fancy Kids Inc.” if you haven’t even looked at Budget Babies.

  1. Share bargains with friends

If you see great but cheap cotton shorts at your local supermarket, let your friends know, and ask them to do the same. The collective power of a city full of bargain hunters will mean that you are far more likely to hear about the best deals when you need them.

  1. Buy at sales for next year

Dedicate a space in your cupboard for next year’s clothes and buy items the next size up at the end-of-season sales. This is particularly useful for things like winter coats, which are expensive at the beginning of the season.

  1. Buy hard wearing clothes for play and mess

Children should be encouraged to engage in messy play – painting, playing with mud and climbing trees – but these activities can be hard on clothes. Keep one or two sets of cheap or hardy clothes for this purpose, and make sure your kids put them on when they’re going to be creating art or playing outside.

  1. Brush up on your sewing skills

Sure, everybody isn’t a secret tailor, but if you can learn to sew new clothes or mend torn ones, you’ll be saving yourself a packet. We’re not suggesting that you put aside a weekend to sew your children’s entire wardrobe, but if you can make one or two light summer dresses or shirts out of a pretty fabric (or even your own old clothes), that’s two outfits less that you’ll have to buy from the shops.

  1. Consider hand-me-downs

If you have a friend with a child who’s a year older or a size larger than yours, let them know that you’re keen to buy hand-me-down clothes or school uniforms. Most parents are looking for takers for their children’s old clothes, so you’d be doing them a favour as well.

  1. Buy from the second-hand shop

Most schools have a second-hand shop for old school uniforms. Get there early in the year before all the newest items in the right sizes are gone. But you don’t need to stop at school uniforms. Second-hand and charity shops are a great way to save money on regular clothes as well. It takes time to pick through all the racks to find the right quality and size, but if you do, you will be rewarded with functional clothes at a fraction of the price.

You can do it!
Remember that while cost saving can take more time and energy, it can save you a packet. There’s no point in overspending on the best quality, designer label clothes, when children only wear them for such a short while. Good luck, and happy bargain hunting.