Reducing Waste,  Saving Money

How To Shop Secondhand To Save Time, Money, and Stress

Its often hard to find a balance between frugality and simplicity. The easiest and most minimal ways of doing things are often not the least expensive. And the more frugal methods are rarely simple or minimal – this is especially true when it comes to buying kids clothes.

The easiest way to stock your child’s wardrobe, of course, would be to simply buy a bunch of identical tops and pants each year and be done. It would be so matchy matchy and one shop visit and you are done! Unfortunately for my family, that’s not usually in the budget.

My solution is to buy secondhand from reputable and well organized consignment shops and sales events! Buying secondhand allows me to buy well made and cute clothes for my kids at a fraction of the cost. And because I’m going with well organized shops or events, I don’t have to dig through garage sale boxes (although that can save even more money) or fish through worn out and stained clothes. Its the perfect marriage of frugality and simplicity for me.

Even better, buying secondhand prevents those clothes from being thrown in the trash (which is a shame for good clothes!!) or being added to unwanted donations that end up in impoverished countries and wreck their local economy.

I did one such sales event – at Divine Consign in Plano, Tx – over the weekend and I’m here to share what I bought and my tips for successfully shopping. 

What We Bought

I was shopping for my fall/winter clothes for my 5yr old and 1.5yr old daughters. We already had a friend give me some clothes for my 5yr and my toddler has several hand-me-downs from the 5yr old, so we didn’t need too much.

We ended up with 5 complete outfits, 2 extra leggings, an extra shirt and a jacket for my 5yr old; 2 complete outfits, 4 extra shirts and a dress for my toddler; and each girl got a pair of boots, one toy and some books. I also found a bed rail that I had been wanting – for only $5 – and a $3 backpack. Can’t beat that!

Here are the prices for everything:

Jacket $7
Jean tunic/plaid pants $6.50
White Love shirt/pants $3
Curious George shirt/purple pants $8

Yellow Heart tunic/pants $6
2 Extra leggings $4 (for both)
Purple hooded shirt $3.50
Pink shirt/multi pants $4

Camper shirt/pants $4.50
2 Extra shirts $5.50 (for both)
Fox shirt/jeans $4.50
2 Extra shirts $5 (for both)

Dress $4
Toys $3/$3
Boots $5.50/$2
Books $2.30 each (various prices but that was the average)

We also bought some stuff for my 4mo nephew. He got 14 complete outfits and 7 footed sleepers for $80.50

Total spent: $47.50 on my 5 yr old, $25.50 on my toddler, $80.50 on my nephew, $29 on toys and books. Average price per item (after tax): $3.18

Tips for shopping

Get Only What You Need. For us, we had a half wardrobe already (more tips on my kid’s capsule wardrobes coming soon!) so we only needed a few items. It doesn’t do much good to save money on individual items if you overbuy and spend over budget anyway.

Grab Everything You Like On The Initial Run. You can always put stuff back later but if you have a good selection to look over, you can easily choose your favorite items and put the rest back. (This sale had a nice “discard” rack)

Examine Cafefully. Some sales/stores are better than others about what clothes they let in. I’ve been to some sales where many of the clothes have stains and holes but this sale was much more choosy. Either way, look over each item carefully.

Watch The Brands/Quality. There’s a difference between a $4 good quality GAP shirt and a $4 Walmart brand shirt. I’ve fallen in the trap of buying everything because “It must be a good deal, right?” only to be at the store later to realize I paid retail price for a used item. Some sales/stores are better about pricing and some aren’t.

Its Easier Kid-Free. Its a bit of a process. Ive taken my kids when I’ve had to (like this weekend) and its hard. Its easier when they aren’t with me and I can think. Taking someone to help watch them (a friend or family member) is helpful. I also took the tablet, as well as snacks, for the toddler to buy some cooperation.


Secondhand clothes is usually where I start the wardrobe process, then I fill in anything else I need at other stores. I still need to buy socks and underwear new and I usually have to buy leggings new too, because they don’t usually make it past one kid (and rarely turn up in consignment sales.) And I was really surprised to found nice boots as I’m pretty particular about shoes and usually buy new. It definitely isn’t the only way we purchase but it is a large portion and it really helps save money and save on new items being made.

Do you shop secondhand?
Where is your favorite place to shop?

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