Save Big Bucks! Buy Clothes at Walmart Plus 8 Clothes Budget Tips

Walmart Mom and Proud of It

Frugal clothes

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.

*This post contains affiliate links. I get a small commission at no charge to you if you purchase through one of my links. 

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:

frugal clothes

$4 – Grease stains free! Quickly went from nice shirt to play shirt

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.

$1 shorts frugal clothes at walmart

All of these shorts cost just $1 each

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.

frugal clothes

$7 tennis shoes after being worn camping

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$3 nice flip-flops for next summer

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.

frugal clothes

Shirts ranging from $2-3 each

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.

frugal clothes

Outfit came together $5 or $2.50 per item

frugal clothes

Shirt $3, Skort $3 Totally adorable

frugal clothes

Top $3, Capris $2

frugal clothes

Shirt $3, Pants $5 (I splurged on the pants)

frugal clothes

Outfit came together $7 or $3.50 per item

Utilize Hand-Me-Downs

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.

frugal clothes

$5 Dress (Looks great with a white under tank and black leggings)

frugal clothes

$3 Long-sleeved tee

frugal clothes

$5 Casual Tank

8 Tips for Sticking to a Clothes Budget

frugal budget clothes tips

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:

frugal clothes


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.

Additional Resources

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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How Debt-to-Income Ratio Will Impact Your Dream Home

 Debt-to-Income Ratio

What is it and why you need to know about it

Whether you are buying or building your dream home you need to know about debt-to-income ratio. This number, in conjunction with the size of your down payment, will determine how big of a loan (mortgage) you can qualify for.

Debt-to-income ratio is usually reported as a percentage. It is calculated using your monthly recurring debt and your monthly gross income. The equation: monthly debt/gross income x100 = percentage of debt-to-income ratio. Example: $2500/$6000 = 42%

What counts as debt?

Do all your monthly bills get included? Just certain ones? I’m glad you asked! Debt in this equation includes the following:
– Mortgage payment
– Car payment
– Student loans
– Credit cards (unpaid balances)
– Any other loans/financed debts you’ve accrued

What if you already have 1, 2, or 10 debts you are paying every month? Consider paying down your debt using this advice or debt snowballing. Try these 11 strategies to save money while you pay down your debt. Reducing your debt will increase the amount of money the bank is willing to loan you for your dream home. If you have significant debt you may need to start the process of eliminating debt at least a year before you purchase or start building your dream home. Don’t wait until you are ready to start looking at house to take a look at your debt!
One reasons we try our best to pay cash for cars and live below our means is so when it’s time to qualify for our construction loan we will be approved for the largest amount possible under our income bracket. We have been consciously avoiding debt and saving for a down payment for 4 years. Planning for your future is crucial and never too early to start!

Debt-to-Income Ratio

Ideal debt-to-income ratio

What’s the goal debt-to-income ratio? To qualify for a conventional loan banks will want your debt-to-income ratio less than 36%. Some may have stricter levels or more lenient ones depending on the type of loans you can qualify for. Typically the highest percentage you will find approved is 41% for special FHA loans. Also, the amount of down payment you can provide and your credit score may affect approved loans for you. Talk to a lender to learn more about the special requirements in your area.

You can google to find a mortgage calculator to determine the monthly payment on a home in the price range you’re planning. A good mortgage calculator will include total home cost, minus the down payment, interest rates, and the option to choose 15 year or 30 year payback periods. Add the monthly payment to your other monthly debt (or replace your current mortgage payment to a larger one) to determine if it will fit in your debt-to-income ratio.

Planning for your dream home

Start planning ASAP! You will need to determine what your dream home looks like in vague terms: How big? Fancy editions? Track home or custom design? Lot size? These will effect the total price of your house. Once you have your initial dream home idea you can then determine the size down payment you will need and how much debt you will need to pay off to reach your dreams. You may also need to look at ways to increase your income. You can search Zillow or visit open houses in your area to get an idea of the housing market there.

Bottom line. When it comes to obtaining your dream home – debt is your enemy and planning is your friend!

What are your best tips for staying out of debt?

11 Ways to Start Saving for Your Dream Home

Start saving for your dream home today!
Even if its 2, 5, or even 10 years down the road

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items from the links I’ll get a small commission at no extra charge to you*

Our frugal beginnings

In 2013 I had just graduated with a master’s degree, I had less than $1,000 to my name and I was 7k in debt with student loans. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I decided to move across the country from Arkansas, where I was born and raised, to the wild west of Arizona. The reason of the move was simple, he needed to be closer to his daughters from his previous marriage and I was ready for an adventure and new beginnings.

We started out by renting a 900 sq. ft. apartment. We weren’t sure where we wanted to live, if this relationship would even work out, and didn’t have the means to fly out more than once to look for houses so for the time being it made sense. It was 2 bedrooms and 2 baths.  However, 1 bedroom we used entirely as a storage room. So I often joke we actually only lived in a 700 sq. ft. apartment with a large storage room attached.

Small apartment layout

Our first home together:700 sq ft of living space

We didn’t want to pay to rent a separate storage building because we were saving money and knew we would only live there for a relatively short period of time.

I had a job offer and plans to start work about 6 weeks after our move. The Hubs (BF at the time) didn’t find a job until the following January, making a whopping $13 per hour as a paramedic (I could go on a rant about how underpaid emergency responders are but that’s not our purpose here). He had had a house in Arkansas that he sold before we moved and I had shared a rental with my sister.  We wanted to save as much of the money he made off his house as possible for a down payment on our first home together. He paid for our moving expenses and our first 2 months of rent. Then I became his “sugar momma” for the next year and a half – $20 dollars an hour is a lot compared to $13!

Our combined gross income was $70,000/year our first 2 years in AZ. Yet we were still able to save over $10,000 in our first 18 months and I paid off my 7k student loans in the first 9 months of starting work. How is that possible?  Glad you asked.  Here are 11 ways we saved:

Money Saving Tips

1. Skip the storage unit

We made do with basically a 1 bedroom apartment because it was cheaper to rent a 2 bedroom for $650/month and use 1 room as storage than to rent a 1 bedroom for $575/month and also rent a storage unit.  We could have also sold items before we moved to make a little extra cash and save space but we didn’t know what all we would need in a home and knew we wouldn’t be making enough money to buy new furniture any time soon. However, for many people it makes sense to just get rid of their junk!

We didn’t use much of the items in storage for a whole year – if you haven’t used something in that long, it makes you think twice if you really need it or not! So we ended up purging about half of that storage room when we bought our starter home.

My parents have rented a storage unit for as long as I can remember. With all the money they have spent on storing items they could have bought all the items brand new and still had money leftover. Wasting hundreds of dollars a year on storing items you may never use again or won’t be using within the next few years is just throwing your money away. Skip the storage unit and only keep items you need. Already have a storage unit? Sell items you don’t need and put that money towards saving for your dreams.

2. Stop eating out so much

It’s way cheaper to eat at home. I had a $75/week grocery budget for our first year.  I’m a dietitian – we eat healthy. It’s doable on a small budget. We limited eating out to twice a month and even then – we were choosy about where we went and skipped drinks, appetizers, and desserts. This also meant not buying snacks/drinks at gas stations or drive-thrus during the week, skipping the $5 coffees, and putting items back at the grocery store that weren’t on sale that week. All it takes is a little planing ahead. Search pinterest and you can even find pre-made meal plans at whatever your current budget is and for your family size.

3. Do-it-yourself more

I colored and cut my own hair for a year. My husband is pretty handy with car repairs and home projects. I’ve made a lot of handmade Christmas gifts over the past few years. I rarely painted my nails, but when I did – I didn’t go to the salon. My mother-in-law happens to be handy with reupholstery and DIY’ed our old couch set from this to this:

DIY and starting saving

Old pattern on love seat. New pattern on chair

Now I have plans to DIY for items I want in my dream home such as one of these murphy beds from Your Modern Family for our guest room or this head board from Home Made by Carmona for our master bed (I just found these links searching pinterest – these bloggers don’t know me!). The possibilities are endless. We washed our own cars, cleaned our own home, did not wear things that needed dry cleaning, etc.

4. Pay cash for cars

I cannot express how important this is, for several reasons. a) No car payment = lower monthly bills = more money to save. b) Debt to income ratio matters when you are trying to qualify for your new home loan! c) When you buy a new car you lose anywhere from 3-10k as soon as you drive it off the lot. It’s called depreciation.

We eventually bought a new-to-us USED car for my husband’s business needs 2 years after we moved, but up until that point we paid cash for all our cars and drove “clunkers”. I still drive a 2006 ford Taurus that cost us under 3k.  I’d rather have a nice home than a nice car.

5. Get rid of cable

And other non-essential bills. We haven’t paid for cable since we moved to AZ 4 years ago. There are so many options now-a-days that are way cheaper! Netflix or Fire TV | Streaming Media Player and more! You could have 3-4 different options and still pay less than cable TV cost.

I’ve been tempted many times to buy subscription boxes or sign up for cheap magazine sales – but skip those too! At least for now when you are in saving mode. Not only do they cost $$ they also add clutter that you will have to either get rid of or move into your dream home one day. I could go on – give your bills a good look – what are you paying for that is non-essential?

6. Combine bills where possible

We moved our cell phone plan to my dad’s.  That whole add a line for $9.99 really pays off (by the way, I love puns!).  We pay my dad each month instead of the phone company and it has been saving us more than $50 a month, or $600 a year!

Another option is to combine all your insurance plans into as few plans as possible. Find a company that will give discounts for auto, home, life, etc. wrapped into one policy.

7. Pay off your debt

If you are paying interest on anything you are paying more than the item is worth. Thankfully we didn’t come into our relationship with a ton of debt.  My husband had a clean slate but I had 7k in student loans.  I realize compared to most, we had a very small amount of debt. However, the same philosophies and tips can apply to all debt.

The second goal here would also be to create less debt! Now is NOT the time to start financing items if you are saving for your dream home. Remember that debt-to-income ratio I mentioned earlier? Check out this post on how it can effect your ability to purchase your dream home.

8. Live below your means

We searched for a moderately priced apartment that had all of the essentials but none of the bling on purpose. We paid $650 a month in rent instead of $950 because we CHOSE to live with less; saving us over a thousand dollars by the end of the year just by choosing a lower end apartment.  Yes we could have had bigger rooms or a kitchen that more than 1 person could be in at a time but we didn’t NEED those things to be happy or healthy. I shopped at Wal-Mart instead of Target and Ross instead of Nordstrom. We did with less so we could have better in the future. Here’s another post on living below your means and why I buy low cost clothing to save money.

9. Consider roommates

My sister and brother-in-law lived with us for a year. We bought a bigger house (that we plan to flip for more $$) which meant a bigger mortgage payment but both families ended up saving money. It worked well for us and our situation but I could see why this wouldn’t always work for everyone.

10. Try a spending freeze

Don’t spend anything outside of the necessary bills for a month. You might be surprised at how much extra you have at the end of the month and how hard this actually is to accomplish. When we first moved to AZ and I hadn’t started my job yet and he hadn’t even found a job yet, we had several spending freezes out of necessity. We found free community events and spent a lot of time at the library checking out new books and movies for free! Saving always seems easier when you’re broke. If you’re interested on my pinterest search yield: Here is additional info about spending freezes. 

11. Make a budget

… and follow it! When we first moved we opened a joint account for all of our essentials and bills. Then we tried to be a frugal as possible for 3 months. At that point we went through our bank account and created a budget. We could tell the average amount we were spending on gas, food, bills, etc. each week and used this as a starting point for our new monthly budget. It also gave us realistic savings goals.

Our joint budget was about $1500/month for bills and necessities.

$650 for rent. $150 for utilities. $300 for food/home supplies. $300 for gas. ~$100 for fun or unexpected expenses. We also hoped to save about $500/month in our joint account for our future home.  Some months this worked well – Some we were buying new tires or plane tickets to visit family. We both put $1000/month in our joint account and anything leftover went into our personal accounts. This worked well for us but might be different for you depending on your circumstances.

I would love to hear your tips for saving money and living frugally. Please add your suggestions in the comments.


 11 money saving tips





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