Cash-savvy tips to avoid spending a fortune on your children’s clothing

With the increasing cost of everything, from nappies and school fees to stimulation classes and birthday presents, most parents will agree that raising children isn’t cheap. Although there are some fixed costs we can’t avoid, there are money-saving shortcuts and tips we can take on board when it comes to buying children’s clothing.

We asked a few moms to share how they budget and save money on their children’s clothing.

1. Focus on price, not quality

This might sound like strange advice at first, but if you think about it, babies and young children grow at such a rapid rate, it doesn’t make sense to buy the most expensive branded trainers or jumpers, when they will only last one season.

This doesn’t mean you have to forgo branded clothing, it just means you need to choose which clothes you invest in wisely, says Catherine, an estate agent and mom of two. “I shop at the cheapest stores for my kids’ nursery-school clothing because I know they’ll be painting and staining their clothes all the time. So, I save the party dresses for special occasions only,” she says.

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2. Play mix and match with collections

If you really love those glittery shorts that have just come in, chances are they’ll be placed in the front of the store with all the other new collections. If you want to save on your children’s clothing, head to the back of the store and search for other items, such as T-shirts, on the clearance racks, that you can pair with the latest, more expensive items in your trolley.

3. Buy gender-neutral clothing

If you have more than one child, it makes sense to buy gender-neutral clothing, so that they can share. Megan, a stay-at-home mom of twin five-year-old boys and a daughter (two), says she saves money by buying neutral colours and plain clothing. “My kids share pyjama pants, T-shirts, most pairs of socks and the odd pair of shorts,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll even get away with letting my daughter wear her brothers’ winter jackets, because I always buy plain grey, green or yellow,” she adds.

4. Sell and swap

There’ll always be those less fortunate who could benefit from your second-hand items. You could hold a garage sale and sell all your children’s old clothing that they’ve outgrown. Alternatively, organise a swap shop with your friends. Ask each one of them to bring 10 pieces of clothing or shoes, still in good condition, and approximately the same age and size as, or even a size bigger than, your children and you’ll end up with great new additions to your child’s wardrobe without spending a cent.

“We have a kids’ clothing swap once every few months, especially when the seasons change, and it’s always a huge hit, because we have tea and chat about motherhood too,” says Thandeka, a recruitment agent and mom of three.

5. Go a size bigger

Shocked at how fast your child is outgrowing her new pair of pants? Try and get away with buying a size bigger. This will save you time and money, as kids can wear the item for a season and then you can keep it for the following year. A bigger size won’t matter with items such as jerseys, raincoats, dresses and pyjamas. “We do this a lot with my daughter’s winter jackets, hats and dressing gowns,” says Tracey, the mom of a four-year-old daughter.

6. Know where to shop

There’s a chance you’ll pick up a bargain now and then at an exclusive boutique or high-end store, but for the majority of your child’s wardrobe, stick to budget-friendly stores. There’s no shame in looking for bargains, says Sam, a beauty therapist and mom of two boys.

Sam and most of her friends tend to shop at the following stores:

Pep: This store has a great variety of children’s vests, T-shirts and leggings.

Ackermans: The clothes are generally good-quality, don’t get ruined in the wash and are on-trend yet affordable. Whether it’s tunics, winter jackets, or summer shorts and shirts, Ackermans has a wide selection from babies right through to teens.

H&M: You might have side-stepped this store, thinking it’ll be too expensive, but the children’s clothing is affordable – and cute. Expect to pay about R170 for a knitted cotton jersey and R150 for a winter jacket.

Pick n Pay: This store is ideal for buying in bulk. If you’re looking for leggings or vests, it has the best bargains, as you can buy them in packs. Most moms also like the wide variety of kids’ shoes, which are about R60 per pair.

If you’re in the position to splurge and spoil your child now and then, head over to Hoolies for the cutest kids apparel online. Based in Durban, it has everything from cute accessories to playsuits, dresses and smart trouser sets. The big bonus is that they only stock Fair Trade clothing that’s locally made in South Africa.