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Another school year, another opportunity to realize that the kids just seem to keep on growing and growing. (And growing and growing.) At this point, it’s no longer just an emotional investment to see them progressing out of their clothes so fast; it’s also a pretty big financial one.

So what is a cash-strapped parent supposed to do, especially when their “wee” ones no longer seem to stay so “wee?” Well that’s where shopping for second-hand clothing can be a lifesaver. Ahead of the brand new school year, here are six items of clothing that all parents should always consider buying second-hand.

Basic t-shirts and sweaters

When it comes to hunting down good quality threads, always look for brand names you trust. They pop up everywhere from second-hand online retailers like Bearly Used to trusted thrift stores like Goodwill and Value Village. Beyond that, it’s always wise to go for basic staples, such as shirts within the same colour scheme that will mix-and-match easily and sweaters that will pair for a variety of occasions. Stay away from bright colours and hard-to-match hues of the season, which may not be so “in-season” by the time you get your paws on them.

Pants and shorts

The same rule of branding applies here, especially since your kid is likely to wear the same pairs of pants on repeat. Opt for sturdy jeans, cords and other materials that hold up well with wear, and be sure to check for fraying by any hemlines or buttons. It’s also worth checking whether or not a pair of pants has been custom-hemmed before making it to the resale pile; what fits one kid like a glove may not fit yours as nicely.

Halloween costumes

It’s worth noting that with Halloween approaching, a parent can save a bundle by sourcing their kids’ costumes in advance by checking in at several thrift stores throughout September. Bonus points if you see a costume and can convince your kid that it’s meant to be. Or, if your child is older, get them involved in hunting down items of clothing they could piece together to make a creative costume. Either way, considering your kid will probably only wear the thing once, second-hand is for sure the way to go.

Special occasion clothing

Whether your kid is going to be a flower girl or a ringbearer, or if they have a special birthday dinner or a grown-up party to attend, sometimes they have to dress the part. But let’s be honest: the dress clothes that make them look like put-together little humans can go for a fortune. Thankfully there are myriad second-hand party dresses out there for girls to choose from, while a nice pair of slacks are always elevated by inexpensive accessories like suspenders or a bow tie. Sure, in some situations you have no choice but to buy brand new, but it’s definitely worth scouring second-hand stores for most items first.

Shoes… but within limits

Kids outgrow shoes almost faster than they outgrow clothes… which makes sense because kicks can cost an arm and a leg. (Or a leg and a foot?) Anyhow, given how quickly certain footwear can grow too tight, it’s worth having a look for dress shoes, sandals, winter or rainboots and even some sneakers at second-hand stores before purchasing brand new. Look at the soles to see how much traction there is, but even more importantly take a peek inside to see whether the insoles have moulded to the previous owner’s feet. If they look too used take a pass, but if their condition is relatively new, you’ve just saved yourself a few bucks, friend.

Accessories

Accessories like belts, hats, purses and even backpacks can make or break an outfit… and retailers know it. The price on these items is often driven up for poor parents like us who have been suckered in by the cuteness of it all. Rather than digging into your wallet to pony up for a cool new accessory, check out second-hand retailers to see what’s available. You’d be surprised at how few times that “perfect” accessory another parent wound up purchasing was actually used.

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and save yourself a few fashionable bucks, you savvy parent-shopper, you.