How I Dress My Kid on a Budget


Same t-shirt, three seasons. We’re big fans of layers 🙂

Kids aren’t cheap, but they don’t have to be super expensive either. If there’s an area Mike and I can save on, we do. Children’s clothing is an area we can always find big savings. Maria is definitely on the shorter side (thanks to her parents) but every six months (when we measure her height for records) she grows at least two full inches, sometimes we’ve recorded as many as four inches in a six month period. Needless to say we go through a ton of clothes.

To add to the whole ”growing like a weed” thing is the fact that kids are messy. I’m definitely not the kind of mom who rushes to change her kid as soon as a drop of mud gets on them but especially in the summer, she changes outfits at least once per day. Running in the grass and dirt, playgrounds, pools, Popsicles and sunscreen mess means they get dirty! All these reasons are a huge reason why we’re not willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money on her wardrobe.

For her clothes it’s a balance of quality and quantity. She definitely needs more clothes than us given how often she changes but we don’t want cheap clothes that fall apart after a handful of washes or a few trips down the slide. To do this we capitalize on a few areas.

Buy Used for High Quality

Given how fast kids grow, often wearing an item for a few months of their life, I always check second-hand stores. This is where I pick up a lot of high quality, gently worn pieces for cheap. Things like her Polo sweaters, Hilfiger shorts and GAP dresses, no way would I waste my money paying full price for them but at $5.00 per piece I’ll scoop them up. I usually stay away from second-hand cheaper stuff like WalMart brand opting to buy new from store like this instead as my experience is the shelf-life isn’t great on these pieces to begin with, they usually are a one-kid use only.

Only Shop Sales (Online shopping is a God send)

Unless it’s a cheap t-shirt or socks from a store like Target or Walmart I never pay full price for anything for Maria. If you hit the sales right (Old Navy is my favorite), you can score a ton. Just recently with an online two-day sale, I scored five shirts, two pairs of shorts and a bathing suit, with shipping and taxes for $49.00. With these pieces alone I made 10 outfits as all shirts match the two different style shorts. Given how little time I actually have in my day, online shopping for kids clothes is a huge blessing. The sizing for her is almost always bang-on and with easy in-store returns if there is a problem it’s a perfect choice.

Multi-Season Shop

Obviously if you live in a place that experiences four seasons you’ll need multiple wardrobes but that doesn’t mean you need to go out a buy full wardrobes every season. Buy pieces that can be used through multiple seasons. For instance we usually buy t-shirts for Maria and during winter months layer them with a few cheap long sleeve shirts underneath or top with a sweater rather than buying all-new long-sleeve shirts. The sweaters are usually cardigan styles which look cute over just about anything and can be used in almost all seasons.

Kids Don’t Need a Billion Shoes Options!

I get that you want to buy your kid 2573 pairs of shoes, they’re super cute but it’s a complete waste of money. Maria has at any given time: one pair of sneakers, rainboots, snowboots and summer sandals. The sandals we buy are usually multi-use with good grip and easy for her to get on and off. I don’t spend a lot of money on footwear as kids are tough on them! The most I’d honesty spend is probably about $20. Her snowboots were an end of season sale for $15, sneakers were about the same and her new summer sandals were $18. We also bought her a cheap pair of knock-off croc style shoes for $5 which will work for the beach or send to daycare on days I know they’ll be playing in the sprinkler or something.

It is so easy to go nuts dressing kids, both boys and girls have so many sweet clothing options but if you’re practical about it, as well as savvy you can dress you kid in style without breaking the bank!

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  1. First of all, oh my gosh! She is so adorable!
    Secondly, I don´t have kids, but I have a neice and three nephews all under the age of 3. So of course I´ve started buying lots of clothes for them, but dang! I had no idea kids clothes could be so expensive! They´re tiny! How the heck do they cost the same or more as adult clothes?! I don´t understand. I´ve had to limit myself to only buying maybe one thing per month, but yes, I definitely shop online sales. The tiny things are just so dang cute, that´s how they get you!

  2. Her pigtails are so cute!! I buy all of my kid’s play clothes (anything that he wears to daycare) used on Kijiji. It comes out to be under $3 an item and since he’s on the smaller side, he’s able to wear the clothes for at least a year. On top of daycare, he has a separate wardrobe of “fancier” quality clothes; it’s a mix-match of ethically made clothes from independent stores and the sale racks from the Gap. Buying from ethically made clothing is not cheap, but I limit the amount of things I purchase and his “fancy” wardrobe is pretty minimalist. With the upcoming arrival of my daughter (two more weeks), she’s wearing mainly hand-me-downs from her brother and borrowed clothing from friends.

  3. If you keep the clothes in good shape, at some point down the line you can offer them at a resale shop and recoup some of your money. Of course, that usually goes toward buying new clothes, but hey every bit helps!

  4. What a cutie! You’re right, kids clothes are cute, cute, cute! That makes it hard to want to limit what you buy and how much you spend, but you should still do so anyway because having too many clothes for kids is a waste of money because of how fast they grow.

  5. Dressing kids is not as expensive as most people think unless they are buying high end clothing or all new clothing. We get used clothing for our son and just last week we picked up 8 garbage bags full of clothes up to 4T for free from Kijiji. A mom just wanted to get the clothes out of the house and the grandparents house.
    We often find free clothes so we give the clothes back to other parents in need once we are done with them. Other than that we’d go to Value Village or other secondhand shops and shop the sales.

  6. What a cute kid. Layering is really a good strategy. Buying off season is one great trick as well because clothes are on big sale. Dressing kids has never been so expensive in my situation because I know there are lots of ways to do it and creativity is what has helped us out to do it so well.

  7. Ok, Maria is so freaking cute! And she’s getting so big! I completely agree-it doesn’t make sense to spend full price on kids’ clothing. They grow like weeds! Also, they have no clue about what you’re putting on them when they’re that young. Unless you’re dressing your kids funny …which, luckily for Maria you don’t LOL!

  8. The best clothes for your children are not always the most costly ones. You can buy affordable clothes at online auctions and sales too. Discounted clothing prices can be found at various stores when they have sales. You can take cash advances online and buy clothes for your kids within your budget!

  9. Oh man! Keeping up with kids monthly expense budget is not so easy. I’ve been having struggling time to manage my budget but it’s not happening. Every month over expense is happening again and again. I’ve one daughter and I don’t know what’s gonna happen when I’ve another one.

    Anyways, the dress kid budget ideas are seems so effective and I’m looking forward to follow up these ideas.

  10. Buying clothes for kids form a good selection is not a big deal but making this deal in nice budget is really difficult. People can solve this problem of budget by reading your article as it is perfectly described in points, it becomes more easy for them.

  11. Hi Catherine,

    Glad to meet you and thanks for sharing such useful post to save money from kids dressing.

    Yeah, You are absolutely right on buying a used clothes for kids. It is because of why kids grow very fast and clothes became short within few days. This is a big loss of money because we can’t buy a affordable clothes to our lovely kids, we often want to buy an expensive and comfy clothes for them.

    Shopping on sales season also, is the best way to get kids dress in a budget. Following these tip will really help to get kids clothes within our budget and perfect dress for them at lowest price.

    Thanks for posting such guideline to shop kids clothes within our budget.
    – Ravi

  12. You have some great tips here and having children who grow like weeds is definitely an experience many will understand. From shopping during sales to buying used, and more, these options could open the door to savings for many parents.


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