From the start, I am going to tell you that some people are to proud to do as I am about to suggest. However, there is nothing shameful about having a closet full of nice clothing for your children that you were able to get for free or super cheap.
We very rarely buy clothes for our four children but they do not go naked… as much as they would enjoy that. Instead, I make a very conscious effort to save as much money as I can on their clothing. Sometimes… most of the time… that means getting their clothes for free.
Give it away for free
Twice a year, I will go through the drawers and closets and pull out the clothing that the children have outgrown. Items that can be passed on to another one of our children are boxed by size and placed in the top of the closet.
Anything that we will no longer need is divided into piles: excellent condition, slightly damaged, or damaged beyond repair. Items in excellent condition and those that are slightly damaged are offered to our friends. I simply go to Facebook and say, “Time to clean out the closets! I have size 3T for boys and size 18 months for girls available to anyone who needs them. Free to good home… you just come and get them!”
My friends LOVE this. I will pull the boxes of clothes out and they sit in my living room and “shop” while we visit.
Anything that remains is either listed on consignment or donated to our church’s clothing closet.
Asking for clothes from friends
Once the closets are ready for incoming clothes, I will post a new message. “My kids are growing. If you are cleaning out your closet and find anything in sizes 10 and up for girls or 8 and up for boys, please let me know.” Never fails, someone will have a box of clothes available.
Maybe we have super generous friends but we have received boxes and boxes of clothes: both new with tags, barely worn, and excellent for play.
Some people think I am strange for doing this. They consider it an insult to my husband, but my husband doesn’t care what other people think. We have made a commitment to live a frugal lifestyle.
Asking for hand-me-downs is not a reflection on you or your spouse’s ability to clothe your children. It is just smart.
Other ways to get clothing for cheap
Since I am picky about shoes, I do keep my eyes open for a good deal and often can snag clothing at an incredible savings.
Since these shops offer daily deals, I receive emails from Zulily once a day telling me about the different sales events. These events stay open for a few days but quantities are often limited so you have to act quickly if it is something you really want.
For me, the referral program is the best thing about Zulily. When you refer friends and they make their first purchase, you earn a store credit. I have no idea how many outfits and toys we have gotten for free thanks to Zulily credits.
The only problem with Zulily… and it is only a problem if you are in a rush to receive something… shipping can take a while. The longest I have waited is three weeks. Why does it take so long? Once your order is placed and the event is closed, Zulily places the orders from the manufacturer. The manufacturer then ships to Zulily and they gather up your items to ship to you. When you place orders from a few different brands, they must wait for all of those items to be received before repackaging and shipping to you.
Shop through Ebates for cash back!
While I have not used ThredUp personally, I have friends who do and they like it a lot. ThredUp is like a consignment store but it is online. You can buy and sell almost new children’s clothing and save up to 80% on your favorite brands. You have to admit that turning outgrown clothes into cash without having a yard sale is a fabulous idea.
Consignment, yard sales, thrift shops
Consignment sales are awesome for getting name brand clothes at extremely reasonable prices. Typically, I use those sales for getting Sunday dress clothes.
I also love a good yard sale. If I find someone who is selling the sizes I need, sometimes I will give them my business card and ask them to contact me before the next sale.
One big tip for shopping at consignment, yard sales, and thrift shops…
Check the clothes under sunlight before purchasing. You want to verify that there are not stubborn stains waiting to be revealed by the light of day. Also, make sure all buttons are in place and zippers work. I have been burned many times by a deal that seemed too good to be true because I did not take the time to check the item.
What are your best tips for getting clothes for free or cheap?
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