Is it worth it to pay more for used?

As I said in my last post, I took a hard look at my spending on clothes last year, particularly on lower-quality fashion brands. I mentioned that Old Navy fits me fairly well, and it’s also incredibly inexpensive.  It’s also where I often shop for kids clothes since it’s easy to optimize sales and coupon codes to get clothes items for $2-3 apiece, shoes for $7-8, coats for $20.  Add in credit card rewards and Swagbucks gift cards, it’s possible to outfit my kids for pretty close to free.  This can be helpful when your kids are hell-bent on staining every item in their closets, as well as when your childcare costs are 5 figures.

But the niggling voice in the back of my head tells me that it shouldn’t be possible to pay nothing for these clothes – the obvious answer is that my frugality is subsidized by unfair labor practices and environmental effects.

The answer for a grown woman whose only “growth” comes from her office mate’s peanut butter pretzel stash and other office goodies is simply to stop shopping.  Not so workable of a plan for a two- and five-year-old.

I’ve searched on eBay in the past for clothing.  For single items, forget it.  I knew I could spend far less than the $10 per item (for Old Navy clothes, even!).  Mixed lots in one size were a better bet, and I managed to buy Ellie’s shorts for the summer this way – in a lot of 7 pairs. But there are usually a couple of questionable items in any mixed lot (gifts from relatives without kids, I always assume!), so I came up with my own math equation:

($Cost of lot) / (# of items I would actually want) = $Cost per item

And if the resultant Cost per Item was below my threshold (e.g. what I could buy a new shirt for), I’d bid.  The problem – and I swear I’m not trying to brag here! – is that most of the used clothes, even in mixed lots, came in well above that threshold.  Forget it, I’d think, I could buy new shirts for that price!

But here’s the thing – the more I hear about the effects of climate change and think about the future of the world and specifically the future of my children, I find myself wanting to vote more with my wallet, even when it’s not the frugal thing to do.  I’ll start paying for a composting service – not as cheap as doing it myself, but the benefit is I’ll be able to compost meat and other similar items (and it will force me to actually do it since I hate wasting money).  I’m trying to opt for more meatless meal options, even though it means I’m paying more for prepackaged items since I don’t have a good stock of easy vegetarian meals.

So why shouldn’t I pay more for used clothes?  Especially now that our hand-me-down options have dried up (my kids are taller than their older cousins, and my sister’s babies are adorable little chonks right around the same size as mine).

I’ll still plan on being cost-conscious, and I’m not saying I’ll never buy new items again (and trying to stop my mom and MIL from shopping is a lost cause at this point).  But there may only be a short window of time before the kids start worrying about clothes.

What do you think?  Are you a fan of used clothes (for your kids or yourself)?  Any other options for kids clothes that I haven’t thought about?


5 Responses

  1. I don’t buy much used for myself, but I’ve settled on not buying much at all. I did get into used clothes when I bought maternity clothes, then kids stuff.

    I’ve found has reasonable prices (wait for free shipping) compared to threadup or poshmark, and a more user friendly per-item searching compared to ebay. It is still often cheaper to buy online new clearance baby clothes, though. I check FB marketplace for lots, and a local Buy Nothing group, and accept all hand me downs that are offered.

    I still have bough a few new baby things in each size because it is so darn cute, and I can’t always find what I want used. It would be wise to find a local store with used clothes so I can pick i person – but who has time to shop in physical stores?

    • Oooh, I never thought of checking FB! I’ve heard of the buy nothing groups as well, but I’m not sure I can be trusted with FB again… I recently experimented with putting it back on my phone and spent an hour that first day!

  2. I’ve been thinking about this a lot more lately.

    JB’s source of hand me downs from various sources are going to start drying up soon as ze grows faster than the other kids in the family. JB destroys all zir pants, ALL OF THEM and disrupts the hand me down ecosystem but I had a source that worked in childcare that gave them access to huge stores of new clothes that were never worn, purchased by people with more money than time and apparently no interest at all in economizing. I’m going to miss the latter, so much.

    Right now I’m pondering on how I wish we had the option to buy boxes of clothing in decent shape from people who don’t have anyone to hand them down to. But shipping costs probably make that cost prohibitive.

    • We used to get tons of hand me downs, I got so spoiled! It was a good shopping deterrent, because I usually had some anxiety over my kids failure to wear some of the smallest sizes before they fee out of them, ha! We do, at least, have my sister to hand down to.

  3. Have you checked out Poshmark? I have found many nice, used clothes and shoes from higher-end brands. You can find new or barely worn items, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: