saving ALL THE MONEY - clothes

Back to the saving ALL THE MONEY series (insert money bag emoji here). You can read past posts here, here, and here. Today's topic is clothes. There are a lot of opinions out there when it comes to clothes. Some say, buy super high quality clothing and wear it for years and years. My problem with that is styles change pretty quickly, so apart from a few pairs of jeans, I can't get on board with this philosophy. Others are big fans of buying cheap, but then there's the quality issue. Here's what we've settled on.

Firstly, capsule wardrobes for the win! I've written about them already (here), so I'll just do a brief run through. Basically, limit your wardrobe SIGNIFICANTLY. For many people, cutting it in half is feasible. I had already done some serious purging a few months earlier, and I still took out around 30% of my wardrobe when I aimed to start a "capsule wardrobe". The idea is to only keep what fits you well, and what you love. I had five black t-shirts, all slight variations of each other. No good. Now I have one. The benefit financially is that you don't buy clothes on a whim, don't emotionally shop, don't hoard clothes that might fit one day, and limit your shopping to approximately 4x a year or less. You buy less, have less, and end up being content with less.

But about buying clothes. A necessary evil, even for us on a budget. How do we save on clothes? I have a few general rules.

1. Buy used when possible

Buying used is getting harder as my family gets older. When my kids were babies it was easy to find gently used high quality clothes, but three and four-year-olds really wear out their clothes, so the things you see used are usually in bad shape. Exceptions are shoes and coats - I still often buy these used and at great prices. Sometimes I even re-sell them when we're finished with them for the same price I paid... or more!

I often do a quick kijiji or craigslist search when I'm looking for outerwear or shoes for Brad and I because they tend to be the only things available on the secondhand market in good shape these days. I found my NEW IN THE BOX Hunter Boots last Fall on kijiji for just over half of what I would have paid new.

2. Wait for the sales, never pay full price!

If you limit your shopping to a few times a year, like the capsule wardrobe suggests, you can benefit from sales. If I know I need to buy some clothes for us or the kids, I'll start comparing prices ahead of time. A quick google search can help you find coupons or coupon codes for most retail websites, so factor in any further discounts you'll get when finding the lowest price. Gap and Old Navy and HM are three stores we buy a lot of clothes from. The latter two are always well-priced, and the former has sales every other week. My general rule of thumb for Gap and Old Navy is to never buy anything unless it's at least 35% off, because their sales are so frequent. Generally I wait until they have 50% off all already on-sale items, or 40% off your entire purchase (which includes already on-sale items) to do my shopping. I rarely spend more than $20 on a clothing item, and my general rule for the kids is to never spend more than $5 per item (excluding heavier clothes like jeans and sweaters, or double duty items like dresses and rompers). Last winter Frank & Oak had a warehouse sale and everything was 50-75% off, so we stocked up for Brad. We probably won't buy him clothes for another year or two if not more.

3. Don't impulse shop!

This temptation comes along with sale shopping. If it's such a good deal, why not just get it? DON'T. Even buying clothes on ultra-clearance or second hand adds up. We might think we're getting a great deal, but if it's more than we need, it's a waste of money all the same. I keep a list on my phone of all clothing items everyone in my family will need in the coming months. This winter Oli needs a coat and snow pants, but the girls don't. I need a pair of dark denim jeans. Lily needs a couple nice shirt sleeved T shirts. If I find a great deal for something in their current size that's not on the list, I don't let myself buy it. If it's a killer price and we don't need it right now, I might buy it in the next size up. Set limits for yourself like not spending more than X dollars per item of clothing, and stick to it.


  1. I really try to stick to minimum clothes with my kids. One of my biggest pet peeves is too full drawers. That being said - it is really hard for myself right now. I find that my wardrobe is huge because (as you likely experienced) when you have 3 kids in 3 1/2 years your weight fluctuates. I've also had winter and summer pregnancies so I have clothes from both seasons in a variety of sizes. Dave teases me about it all the time - but once we are done having babies I look forward to purging :)

    1. ah, yes, that's SO hard! I remember having like 30 pairs of pants at one point. 10 from before pregnancy, 5 from in-between pregnancies, 5 maternity pairs, and 10 comfy pants. It's not the season to purge for you, but after you're done with pregnancies and new borns, you might be ready. I didn't know you had a third baby! That's awesome :)

  2. Thanks - we welcomed Axel Bert into our family on July 4th. He was 7 weeks early but after a month or so in the NICU he is home and we are doing really well!