Ideas for everyday living

Kids’ clothes: check out our money-saving tips

Five savvy parents share their money-saving tips on how to spend less on kids’ clothes.

Even when money is tight, there are basics we all still need – and clothes are one of them. But while a grown-up can wear the same jumper for years, kids just keep growing, which gives their kit a frustratingly short lifespan.

Fortunately, there are ways to clothe kids for less, and often for free. We talked to five parents about how they keep the bills right down by recycling, reusing and adopting smart shopping habits.

Go unisex and save money

“My three kids benefit from plenty of hand-me-downs from their siblings. My tip is to put them in unisex uniform and fancy dress to get the most wear out of them.

“Not everyone knows this, but M&S school trousers come with extra length in them for growing kids, making them really good value. You just cut some stitches to let the hem down a few inches.” 

“Our town also has a Free Shop. It’s a bit like a food bank – they offer school uniform and shoes for donation and pick up.”

- Gemma Moore, 37, Petersfield 

Be frugal – swap till you drop

“It takes a bit of organising, but we have saved so much with ‘bring a bag’ parties. Invite local friends with kids round to your house, and the only ask is that they bring a bag of their unwanted kids’ clothes. It can turn into a bit of a bunfight for the best bits, but it’s also loads of fun. Anything left at the end goes to the charity shop.”

Russell Steel, 48, London

Share cheap kids’ clothes on social

“Facebook groups are fab for sharing kids’ clothes. We have one specifically for our local primary and secondary-school uniforms, which saves parents a lot of money. 

“Personally, I think buying cheap school uniform is a false economy, as it doesn’t last and doesn’t wash well. Doc Marten school shoes may be an investment, but one pair has lasted two of my kids a total of four years. If full price is a stretch too far, there are loads of bargain, barely worn DMs on second-hand sites.”

- Hannah Beddoe, 36, Kirkby Stephen

Buy returns and give back

“A great tip for fancy-dress costumes is Amazon Warehouse, where they resell returned goods. There’s nothing wrong with them – it’s usually just missing or torn packaging – but you can save loads on the original price.

“My son and I have a bag for anything we’ve outgrown or don’t want any more. Once full, we pop it out front for passing people to take. My son, who has autism, really loves doing this, and he even has regulars now.”

- Emma Louise Nicholson, 49, Thornaby-on-Tees

Go for purse-friendly pre-loved

“I would highly recommend buying pre-loved quality clothes for kids. It makes so much sense. Vinted has bargains galore for all ages and is a sustainable option. You can save as much as 80% on pre-loved clothes, which we then love too.

- Kristan Reed, 50, Glasgow

The spend-nothing (or less) checklist

  • Your school community is worth its weight in gold – if it doesn’t have a uniform, fancy dress or coat bank, then approach it to get one started.
  • Make use of online community spirit and join local Facebook Buy, Sell or Swap and Marketplace sites. Or start a neighbourhood WhatsApp group and set up clothing swap sessions.
  • To get more life out of your kids’ clothes, make do and mend or upcycle. Follow Annie Phillips, 2022’s winner of The Great British Sewing Bee, for hacks and inspiration.
  • If you don’t have time for the admin of selling clothes through eBay, sell bundles of old clothes to companies such as Worn in Wardrobe. It sells pre-loved clothes, too.
  • For larger kit like kids' camping and sports accessories keep an eye on your local Library of Things or search for local community groups or toy libraries that offer borrowing services.

Anna Louise Dearden

Anna is a journalist who writes about all things affecting people’s happiness, including money.

Need help keeping on top of your outgoings?

Our in-app Spending and Budget Tracker could help keep you in control of your money. Set budgets and get personalised insights about your spending.

Related content

The best fruit and veg to grow to cut down costs

Garden or no garden, here’s how to produce some nutritious fruit and veg on a budget.

How to set up your own Library of Things

Find out how to set up a money-saving community enterprise that encourages borrowing, not buying.

Was this article helpful?
We'd like to know why you didn't find it helpful?

Your feedback, good or bad, means that we can better understand what we are doing well and where there are areas we need to make improvements.