Walmart Mom and Proud of It
I dress myself and my kids with clothes from Walmart. I know all the mom’s out there want to identify as Target mom’s with their wine and leggings. But I refuse to pay $8 at Target for a t-shirt my 5 year old is going to ruin when I can get one at Walmart for $3 (or less!). So you can call me cheap, you can call me frugal, but you won’t have to call me broke!
Walmart has stepped their clothing game up over the past couple years. They have some super cute clothes in the kids section and items in the women’s clothes I’ve actually worn to work! Their low prices really can’t be beat when it comes to clothes. Even Goodwill prices are equal to Walmart sale prices and the clothes are brand new at Wally world.
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Why Cheap Clothes
The average family spends anywhere from 3-6% of their income on clothing each year according to several sources I found (1 How Stuff works, 2 Elite Daily, 3 Forbes). This equals about $1700-$3000 per year on clothes . We’ve never set a clothes budget because my husband and I aren’t really big clothes shoppers. For myself I’ve spent about $300 this year on clothes and shoes. The hubs has spent less – considering I buy most of his clothes for him, I’d guesstimate about $200 and some of that was given as gifts. If you add the kids at $100 each we are up to about $700. The year isn’t over but it’s getting close. I could see us hitting about $1000 since Christmas is coming and I know I’ll be getting the hubs a new, nice pair of tennis shoes. We are definitely coming in under the average. We also plan on keeping it that way.
Cheap clothes make sense for our family. We are an active family. We go camping several times per year and often go quad riding in the desert. My 5-year-old manages to get dirty pretty much any where we go. Seriously, last year she ruined a shirt at the mall by leaning on the escalator and getting grease on herself. That shirt cost me $4. Although I was shocked she managed to ruin her shirt shopping I wasn’t mad because $4 won’t break our bank but if I had paid $14 I probably wouldn’t have been as easy-going about things. Here’s the shirt after the incident:
When your kids manage to stain or rip clothes pretty much on a weekly basis paying top dollar for clothes can get old really fast. I started buying clothes at Walmart for the kids because my husband and I are on a tight budget saving for our dream home. We needed to have clothes at our house for the kids but didn’t have a big budget to purchase them an entire wardrobe at once. We started slowly but I’ve been shopping the sale racks for 3 years now and have obtained quite the adorable and frugal clothing collections for them.
Shop the Sales
I only purchase clothing from Walmart on the sale racks. I learned this tip from my mom. We always bought clothes for the next year when they went on sale at the end of the season. Did you know you can get shirts, shorts, and leggings at Walmart for as little as $1? I’ve already started buying size 10-12 and 14-16 for when my girls are much older, even though they’re only in 4-5 and 7-8 sizing right now. If I buy just a couple of items in the larger sizes each year by the time they get into that size I’ll have adequate clothes for them. My kids get excited at having new clothes and I don’t have to break the bank to get them items.
Buying clothes on sale racks means you have to shop a little more often. I do a brief scan of the clearance racks at least once a month when I’m in Walmart buying grocers or other items. I’ll even slide by the shoes every now and then; I’ve found tennis shoes for the kids as low as $7 a pair and sandals for $3. I’ve also gotten them both $1 flip-flops in the past. For each size I spend about $100 on clothing for the entire year. So if you added up my 5 year old’s 4-5x clothes for all seasons it would equal about $100. You can reach numbers that low buying items at full price.
Cost of Clothes per Wear
It’s been extremely easy to have full wardrobes for my kids in both warm and cool weather clothes by using these techniques. I do this because I think it’s ridiculous to purchase clothes that will just be worn for 6 months at full price. As a stepmom this makes even more sense because my kids only wear the clothes I buy them half the time. Let’s do some math.
There are 52 weeks in a year. If you wear a shirt every week it will be worn 52 times. But realistically you will own more than 7 shirts (1 per day of the week) and not all of them can be worn year round. So let’s say you have 14 shirts. Automatically you’ve reduce the number of times you will wear a shirt to 26 times in a year. That’s over 50 cents per wear if your shirt cost $15 but less than 20 cents per wear if its only $5.
Kids often outgrow their shirts in 1 year. Occasionally they might get 2 years out of it but we are being realistic here. So your kid at a maximum wears a shirt 26 times before outgrowing it. Why are you paying $15 for that?!? Obviously most kids have more than just 14 shirts in their wardrobes. So if they had 21 shirts they can only wear each shirt an average of 17 times. You get the picture. As a blended family we have our kids half the time. Meaning our 21 shirts can only be worn about 9 times. That could drastically increase the cost per wear for us. At $2-3 these shirts are $0.20-$0.30 cents per wear for my kids.
Plus kids clothing, no matter how well-made, will sometimes get ripped or stained. Again, why pay big bucks for something that can’t be resold or worn as a hand-me-down?
Budget Clothes with Top Dollar Style
We have play clothes and nice clothes. Play clothes are worn camping or to play outside and around the house. Nice clothes are worn less often but donned for going out to dinner or to birthday parties. Most nice clothes eventually become play clothes but occasionally they last and can be given away. My budget for play clothes is $3 an item or less. My budget for nice clothes is $5 an item or less.
Although 90% of my kids clothes come from Walmart they still look cute and put together. The other 10% come from grandparents or friends. Here are some outfits they’ve enjoyed this year. All the examples below were purchased at Walmart.
My girls are 2 years apart. I definitely keep clothes the oldest has outgrown until the youngest can fit into them! No need to buy a whole new wardrobe 2 years later. I also take the clothes my youngest has outgrown to a friend I work with whose daughter is 1 year younger. Some of the items I purchase are getting worn by 3 kids! That’s definitely getting my moneys worth. A few items don’t make it to the next person in line each year due to holes or rips. But my friend at work still takes the clothes if they have stains. She says she likes it because she can let her daughter wear those clothes for painting or playing outside and it doesn’t matter if her daughter gets them dirty or ripped.
Walmart Women’s Clothes
While less of my wardrobe is from Walmart than my kids, I have found some cute options. I buy all my under tanks there (tank-tops I wear under other shirts). Usually for $1-2 each. I’ve gotten some dresses recently for $5 that are nice enough for work (see below). I’ve also purchased workout clothing and my own “play” clothes for camping. I grabbed a couple of long-sleeved tees at the end of lass winter for camping for only $3-5 each. They’re comfy and I won’t be frustrated when they get muddy or smell like campfire.
8 Tips for Sticking to a Clothes Budget
Obviously not ALL my clothes or my husband’s clothes can come from Walmart. However, we can wear our clothing for more than 1 year! I have clothes in my closet that I’ve had for 10 years. So It’s okay with me to spend a little more on staple pieces. I still have guidelines I go by. To save money and not break the bank with clothing purchases here are some tips:
1) Only shop sales racks
You should NEVER pay full price for clothes! I cannot even remember the last time I paid full price for clothes. There is absolutely no reason to do so. If you find something you love, wait until it goes on sale. This also gives you time to consider if you would really wear the clothes or not. Aside from Walmart clearance racks, other places I purchase clothes at reduced prices from include our clearance Dillard’s center (where everything is already marked down and they often do store wide additional 50% off sales), Ross Dress for Less, and occasionally Kohl’s. My husband recently got a pair of swim trunks from Kohl’s for $4.60 and I got 2 pair of shorts for $3.60 each.
2) Only purchase clothes you need
When I go clothes shopping I usually looking for specific items. For example, last year I needed some new dress pants since all of mine were 5-10 years old. I went shopping with my mom for a girls day and bought about 6 pair of new pants. We only focused on pants. I didn’t look at every sale rack because I knew I didn’t need dresses, skirts, shirts, etc.
A friend of mine came to visit earlier this year. We hit the outlet mall but I had a plan. I was really only looking for a new pair of jeans and some Yellow Box flip-flops. Knowing ahead of time what I was looking for helped me rein in my spending. It also helped me talk myself out of non-needed items. I bought new jeans, the flip-flops, and ended up with a couple other items but didn’t spend over my budget I’d given myself for the day.
3) Give yourself a budget per clothing item
In addition to an overall clothing budget, consider budgeting per clothes item. For example, I won’t spend over $15 for a shirt or pair of shorts, $20-30 for pants, and $40 for dresses. At certain stores it’s even less. That way going in to it I have an idea of what I’m willing to spend. If I find an amazing dress on the clearance rack that still $70 I’m not getting it. To me it’s not worth it to spend that much on something that doesn’t get worn very often. The only thing I ever spend more than $100 on are running shoes and my wedding gown.
4) Don’t buy clothes just because they’re on sale
I think this is wear a lot of people mess up. Just because something is on sale doesn’t automatically make it a good deal or mean that you should purchase it! I’m speaking from experience here. I have shoes in my closet for example that I NEVER wear. I bought them on sale because they were cute, but I didn’t have any actual plans to wear them and they hurt my feet. This was not a good purchase. Whether or not you purchase clothes on sale if you spend $100 you spend $100, no matter how much you saved. So regardless of whether it’s on sale or not, don’t buy things you don’t need or in reality won’t wear. This quote from The Minimalists says it all:
5) Consider online clothes shopping
Shopping on-line can help you avoid the temptations of items you don’t need. But only if you don’t browse the website and take the advice above by only looking at items you need. Surprisingly Amazon actually has some kids clothing that fit in the price ranges I’ve found a Walmart. You just have to do a little digging. I found these adorable outfits:
6) Avoid getting attached to brands
I’ve heard moms complain about their kids’ desires to have specific brands of clothing that are out of their family’s budget capabilities. We need to teach our kids by leading by example from an early age that brand name doesn’t mean much when it comes to clothes. If you are constantly talking about certain brands in front of your kids or making a big deal about that expensive purse you want if can impact the way your kids view money and clothes. I’m thankful I never cared much about brand name growing up but I know many people who struggled because their family couldn’t afford higher priced clothing. Learn yourself that a larger price tag doesn’t automatically give you a better place in the world. Then teach your kids the same thing.
7) Spend more money on essentials
There are a few clothing items that it makes sense to dish out a little extra money for. These include: good, supportive bras for the ladies, quality and supportive underwear for the men, and supportive, good quality every day work shoes for all involved. If your job requires specific clothing that you literally wear on a daily basis such as khaki pants, polo shirts, or scrubs it also makes sense to splurge on some higher quality pieces that won’t wear out as fast. You can spend less on weekend and leisure wear.
A nice coat for those in colder climates can also be worth a bit extra money – but not for kids who will grow out of them the next year. Depending how often you wear them jeans may also be a good investment; but be realistic, if you are only wearing them a few times per month you don’t need $100 jeans.
8) Skip the trends
Buying trending clothing is just plain silly. Unless you plan on wearing it for years, don’t buy it! If you just have to have something follow the tips above and make sure it’s on sale and that you will actually wear it.
Shop Girl Daily has a nice list of 27 ways to save money on clothes, her list includes ways to keep clothing from wearing out as fast and how to find good sales. The Latina Home Maker has 12 tips for saving money on clothes without busting the budget you can check out. Passion for Savings has some tips for finding great deals on kid clothing with her list of 10 hidden places to find deals on back to school clothing.
The Bottom Line
If you want to save money on clothing it’s not difficult. You just have to be willing to shop a places you might not have thought about before and stick to your guidelines. Set a clothing budget and track your spending. Let me know if you have additional budget clothing tips by dropping a comment below.
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