Paula Scott

Paula Scott

Jan 20, 2024. 7 mins read

Family Finance

Reduce Your Spend on Kids Clothes in 2024 with these 7 Fool-Proof Tips

How – and why – did we ever get into the habit of buying all new stuff for back to school? I remember when I was a kid, I would've been incensed, INCENSED I-tell-ya if my mum had denied me the all-new wardrobe, gear, and shoes. And my mum, the lovely sucker of a human she is, always obliged. Bless her heart.

Rocket School Backpack

Looking back now, I know mum couldn't afford a lot of the new clothes I got, and probably went without – to make her DD (dear daughter/ me) happy. But honestly, how unreasonable is that?? 

A Choosi Cost of Kids’ Report in 2023 revealed the greatest unexpected costs of starting a family and raising children are them growing out of clothes and footwear so quickly (34%) which highlights the underestimated financial strain parents face in keeping up with their kids' ever-changing sizes and preferences. This constant need for new kids' clothes not only impacts the budget but also raises questions about the sustainability of our consumer habits but in 2024 we’re not about excess.

So you know what they say? When you know better, you do better. And now that I'm older and wiser, I'm here to share some sneaky – and effective – ways to save some of that dough the full-proof way.

How many clothes do kids really need?

Obviously this is a guide (to help you not overbuy in the first place), and the number of clothes your child needs will vary because of factors like age, climate, lifestyle, personal preferences and how much time and space you have.

I usually review my kids’ wardrobe at the beginning of each season (if I can swing it but otherwise 6 monthly) to help me plan and see what’s needed for the next 3-6 months. 

  1. Everyday/ Casual Wear:

    • 7 short sleeve t-shirts

    • 7 long sleeve shirts

    • 7 pairs of pants, trackies, leggings, shorts

    • 3-5 skirts, dresses, skorts

    • 10 underwear

    • 10 pairs of socks

    • 1-3 pairs of stockings

    • 2-3 jumpers

    • 2 hats

  2. Formal Wear or Going Out outfits:

    • 1-2 outfits for special occasions, events, or family gatherings

  3. Sleepwear:

    • 2-3 sets of pyjamas or sleepwear

  4. Footwear:

    • 1-3 pairs of comfortable everyday shoes

    • 1 pair of sneakers

    • 1 pair of dress up shoes

    • 1 pair of gumboots

    • 1 pair of sandals or thongs 

  5. Seasonal Items:

    • 1-2 bathers

    • 1-2 jackets or raincoats

    • 1-2 hats, beanies or gloves (if necessary)

1. Start With a Budget and STICK to It

If you are a mum of multiple kids, the price tag can add up faster than you can say, 'I'm broke.' A quick $20 shop at Kmart or Cotton On here and there is exactly how costs creep up without you noticing. Every Australian buys 56 items of clothing yearly which not only breaks the bank but fast fashion is a real problem for our planet.

Make a budget at the beginning of the year (or whenever your budgeting cycle happens) and ruthlessly commit to it. Only you know what you can afford, so share  some basic financial education with your kids and let them in on the secret that money does not grow on trees and you/ they only have X amount to spend. If your kids are really little, they will have no expectations, so you can have that little talk with yourself (or your partner). 

I know that all of those dresses and hats are supes cute, but have a little restraint. Save money by putting those kids’ clothes in your online cart but make yourself wait and reconsider for 24 hours before buying. You know they will only wear their fave T-shirt all week anyway and every dollar in your pocket is better than in Target’s or Big W’s.

2. Go Thrifting and Op-Shopping

Do you know that dress (see above) you had to have that never got worn? Well, you’re not alone. So many of us mums have piles of unused/ barely used items that we consign or drop at the local thrift shop. Buying second hand kids clothes isn’t second rate, even journalist Jan Fran hasn’t bought new clothes for herself or her child in years.

Thrift stores and charity shops are gold mines when it comes to name-brand clothing that have barely seen the light of day and might even still have the tags on them. I cringe at how many times I have done this. You’ll end up paying a teeny fraction of retail price and beaucoup money. Kids Warehouse (in Melbourne) takes most baby and kids clothes in return for credits to use in-store.

It's like free money and girl maths, and I will die on this hill. And more importantly, you’re contributing to the circular economy and keeping clothes out of landfills. You can feel pretty dang good about that. Just google kids clothes consignment near me to find a local one near you. 

3. Utilise Online Marketplaces (or apps!)

No one enjoys the weirdness of Zuckerberg's cash cow website marketplace, but until our mobile swapping app is up and firing on all cylinders, this will have to hold you over. (Side note: get on the Sassybae waitlist so you are ready to rock when we are!). Much like thrifting, second hand marketplace groups such as your local ‘buy nothing’ or ‘buy/ sell groups’ have preloved kids clothes on offer. You’ll just need to hold your nose and deal with the awkward transactions for the time being.

Other online preloved kids clothes such as Jumping Jack have quality brands of gently used clothes that you can score for a fraction of retail cost and you can even bundle your old kids clothes and they’ll sell them for you. Sweet as!

By using these methods to save money on kids' clothes, you are smart (aka frugal), eco-friendly, and saving the planet. Go straight to the head of the class!

4. Visit traditional Kids Markets

IRL second hand marketplaces such as My Kids Market in NSW and All For Kids Market or Bumble Bee Baby and Children's Markets in VIC, provide an exciting opportunity to save money on kids' clothes while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere and community vibes of a traditional market. These events offer a range of new and second-hand items, including clothing, at affordable prices. They not only offer a practical way to cut costs on children's clothing but also a chance to connect with other parents in your community

5. Host a Clothes Swap with Friends/ Neighbours

Soon you’ll be able to swap and donate kid's clothes on Sassybae, but in the meantime, why not set up a clothes swapping event with your mum friends and neighbours? My friends and I did clothes swapping parties regularly when we were poor AF teenagers and I can honestly say they were hilarious and very fruitful in topping up our wardrobes for nudda. Sometimes we’d do ‘temporary’ swaps when we couldn’t mentally part with a much loved piece of clothing for good. Fun times!

Fast forward to you hosting one, you can even invite those sanctimonious frenemies if they have littles around your kid's age/ size. What a great excuse to get together, commiserate about the cost of living in general – and swap those preloved kids clothes and shoes you need for the whole year. 

You can donate whatever doesn't get snatched up. So, wash all your items (because ew), get out the mimosa fixings (because yum), set up some tables or racks and give it a go. You’ll surely walk away with some tremendous new-to-you pieces and your cups full from hanging with some other smart AF, badass, money-saving mums. If that's not winning the frugal living thrifty game, I don't know what is.

6. Shop Early / Off Season / During Sales

Whilst I love second hand clothes, there are times when I need to buy new ones and being thrifty means planning ahead and buying at the tail end of the season for next year. This is a slight gamble because you need to predict what size your little kiddos will be in the future. Still, this method yields significant savings, especially if you hit the direct factory outlets (aka DFOs) instead of Westfields.

You’ll find some heavily marked-down items, and – at the risk of sounding like a broken record – you’ll pay way less than regular retail pricing. Hell, I've bought things that were 90% off. What a steal! And let's face it, kids' styles don't change that much yearly. Buy the basics, and I’m sure far more often than not, they’ll fit little Billy when the time comes. And if they don't, guess what? You can sell them on that GD marketplace above…. for now. Come on, Sassybae. We need you!

Shopping early also includes annual retail sales calendar events, such as Black Friday, EOFY and Boxing Day. However, remember to think twice about your consumption, know how many clothes your child really needs, and stick to the plan.

7. Ask for Price Matching

It’s a buyer's world out there and everything you need to know is available at your fingertips. Use this to your advantage and scout for kids clothes online to compare the prices between competition or even with the same retailer for their online vs in store prices, as this mum uncovered in Cotton On. Don’t be afraid to ask for price matching from retailers large and small to get the best deal. Kmart, Myer, DJ’s, The Iconic, Baby Bunting, Baby Kingdom, Cotton On all offer price matching.

We all know the cost of living is hard but being financially savvy is the new black and lucky for us fast fashion isn’t fashionable anymore. Save money on kids’ clothes by joining the secondhand and sharing economy. I know the spending blows chunks, but you can still reign supreme in the kids clothes game in 2024. 

If only mum had this full-proof guide back in the day, she might have avoided breaking the bank on my never-ending wardrobe tantrums. Sorry mum!

Paula Scott

Paula Scott

Active mum of 2 . Wife . Research Nerd . World Traveller . Adventure Seeker

Loves writing about fashion, travel, parenting, must-have products, and music. She can be found chasing her children, playing tennis, at the beach, or at a concert. Loves to eat. Hates to cook.

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