How to Save Money » Frugal Living

Save on shoes with a shoe stockpile

Save on Shoes

As a mother of 4 boys, one of my best money-saving tips is to buy ahead (if you have the room to store extra items). One item you don’t want to have to scramble to purchase is footwear. Chances are, it will be difficult to find the right size at the right time in the right style, and you may even have to pay… full price [insert horrified gasp].

Before I learned how to save on shoes, you could hear statements like this in our house:

  • “Mom, those running shoes that fit me perfectly yesterday, are giving me blisters today.”
  • “Help – I lost my indoor shoes at school and if I don’t bring a new pair by tomorrow I will have detention.”
  • “I am pretty sure we should put away my sandals – they are calling for snow today.”

Somehow those little feet just keep growing, and the seasons keep changing. What’s a parent to do? In my experience, one of the best ways to save on shoes is with a shoe stockpile. Here’s how to build one:

Shop the sales

I have had the most luck shopping at Payless Shoe Source. They have almost paid me to take shoes out of their store (yes, really!). If you pop into Payless regularly, you will find fabulous sales. Shoes that are $34.99 or $29.99 will be reduced to $16 then eventually $11 or less.

Also, if a Payless store does not have your size, the cashier will give you a list of locations nearby stores do have them, plus give you a $6 coupon towards each pair of shoes. That means that you will get the $11 shoes for $5. I recently saw a pair that I liked for $11. I requested multiple sizes of the same pair. One nearby store had the sizes 2, 3.5, and 5 that I needed – so I got 3 pairs of shoes for $15 (a savings of over 85%)!

Store shoes neatly

To really save on shoes, you need to take care of the ones you currently own. And of course, that means you must be able to actually see your stockpile of shoes.

  • For running shoes, I use a bookshelf in our basement for easy access, sorted by size.
  • For off-season shoes, I use an under-bed storage container.

Be ruthless

If your children don’t end up using a particular pair of shoes, share with a friend, sell them on Kijiji, or return them to the store, if possible. Payless Shoe Source offers a full refund with no time limit (keep the receipt tucked inside the shoe just in case). Or, in my case, keep having children – eventually, someone will use each pair.

Freshen up

Have on hand at least one pair of laces in each basic color. A fresh pair of laces can give a slightly worn pair of shoes a quick face-lift. You can buy these anywhere that they sell footwear. I have seen them at Dollarama as well, but the quality isn’t as great as a shoe store.

Hold your head high

Be proud that you can easily dispose of old shoes, and replace them with the next size up, without even leaving your house, because you have learned to stockpile shoes.

Save on Footwear

Over the past few years, stockpiling footwear has resulted in significant savings for our family. I highly recommend that you watch for great deals on basic footwear you know your kids will eventually use.

Remember that school-aged children need both indoor and outdoor running shoes, so a few pairs of the same size is justified. When that next shoe crisis ensues, you will be glad that you learned how to save on shoes so that you don’t have to go out and pay full price for new footwear.

How do you save money on shoes?


  1. Jen

    I’ve had the same pair of shoes since I was 14 years old. I’m 23 now. They cost $25 full price, but they’ve lasted really well over the years. They just developed their first hole, which sucks because now I have to mend it or – and I really hope it doesn’t come to this – buy a new pair of shoes. To save money on shoes I just… don’t buy them. Works well. =|

    • Karen

      Now that is what I call thrifty!! Maybe you should treat yourself to a new pair. Your feet might smile and thank you. 🙂

    • Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares

      Yes, this is my method, too. My main pair of shoes I’ve had for about 11 years, and I got them at a second-best sale when it was stuff-a-bag for $2. So, they probably cost me about 5 cents or so. Granted, I just paid $20 to get them repaired, I love them so much!

      I also agree about stockpiling shoes for my kiddo, but I do it at thrift stores, where I can get a really, really nice high quality shoes for just a few dollars. I’d really rather get high quality used shoes than lesser quality new shoes.

  2. Lindsay

    What a great idea!! Thank you very much for the article!

  3. Sonia

    This idea works if you have enough kids to grow into them and use them. My daughter’s feet are growing too quickly that she skipped 4 sizes in a matter of 2 months. So buying ahead and stockpiling would not have saved me money.

    • Karen

      I know what you mean. Those little feet do jump sizes at times. That is why I love Payless. I just returned 2 pairs the other day that I had bought 15 months ago. No problem. Just keep the receipts in the shoes.

  4. Dennis

    My fave line… “Or, in my case, keep having children – eventually someone will use each pair.”

    • Julia

      I laughed out loud at that!!

  5. Eva

    I stockpile running shoes! I work out a lot and can’t bear the thought of paying full price for a pair of sneakers. Shopping the sales I can find shoes I like and have them on hand when I wear out a pair. Doing this saves me at least 60% and I get to take advantage of multi-buy deals too!

    • Karen

      It is a great idea for adults to stockpile shoes since we don’t have to worry about our shoe sizes fluctuating. Unless our feet puff up like overinflated balloons when we are pregnant, but that’s another story 🙂

  6. Christina

    For children stockpiling shoes is fantastic. With three small boys I find we go through shoes really fast as well. I shop the end of season sales looking for one or two sizes bigger so when the time comes the following year we have shoes waiting that fit.

  7. Veranika

    I have learned to ask for shoes from a certain uncle when it comes to bdays and Xmas otherwise we would end up with questionable toys! Plus he is a shoe snob 🙂

    • Karen

      What a treat to have a shoe snob who loves to buy you shoes – that is the best kind!

  8. Kris

    I have four children also (3 girls, 1 boy), and I stockpile shoes too. 🙂 Though not usually at Payless…the price doesn’t come down enough for my frugal taste. I gladly accept hand-me-downs from older cousins for starters. And I check Value Village regularly: great place to find barely used brand name and/or high quality shoes (i.e. Geox!!) for about $3.99 a pair. After back-to-school time has passed, Walmart is a great place for running shoes on clearance. And I buy “off-season” shoes on clearance, just like clothes. Right now is a great time to buy winter boots!! And if you’re not sure what size the kids will be wearing next winter, always err on the side of too big.
    My best shoe score was when I first joined Groupon…I got a $20 credit towards the purchase of my first one. A short time later, there was a deal for $25 which got you $50 at Kiddie Cobbler. I used my credit and got it for $5, which meant I was able to get my oldest a pair of $49.99 Nike running shoes for $5!!

    • Karen

      That is a fabulous deal. Don’t you feel like a champion when you shop smart like that? Go parents!!

  9. Jo

    Love the bookshelf idea as if you dont have them immediately to hand you might buy the same size again. We have saved by rotating different sizes of clothes and shoes amongst family, sometimes 2nd hand stores have shoes that are hardly worn as well. We try to get good quality shoes on sale.

    • Karen

      It is true that if you do not keep an organized stockpile, you will miss some of the items when the time is right. I just switched over to this bookshelf recently and I love it.

  10. Misty

    Great article and perfect timing for our family. Currently expecting our third AND I was just cleaning out the shoe cupboard thinking… I should stock up on boots for next year!! Thanks for the great ideas will definitely be doing this and looking for more ideas in the future!

    • Karen

      My pleasure! It is fun to share ideas with such a responsive reader base.

  11. Suzie I

    Holy crap what an amazing freaking article! I’ve never thought to do this!
    I had no idea about the Payless coupon when going to another store. I’ve noticed major markdowns there but didn’t know they happen so often.
    And to stockpile shoes? Of course! Why didn’t I think of that ? With three boys, no doubt someone’s feet will fill them.
    Buy more sizes of the same shoe?! Yes! Yes, I will!
    Thank you for this article, seriously.
    Love the web site and thank you for helping this SAHM stay afloat in her financial boat.

    • Karen

      I love your enthusiastic reply!! You made my day.

  12. Nicole

    I stockpile shoes too. Even flip flops for myself as an indulgence.
    I have gotten a few free pairs of shoes at Payless with their coupons as well!

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