SummaryOverwhelmed with the whole “clothing thing”? Amanda Evinger finishes the Budget Buster series with tips for saving money when stocking the clothes closet.
Years ago, when I had just one baby girl, I remember going to my friend’s house, a lady with ten children.
She begged me to take home some of her baby girl dresses. I was puzzled. “Are you sure?” I asked her. “But they are so adorable!”
“Yes. Please take them,” she pleaded. “I’m just really tired of clothes. After all these kids and all these years and all their clothes all over the place, I’m just tired of seeing them!”
At that time in my life, I didn’t understand what she meant. Now that I have three young children, I do.
In today’s culture it’s very easy to get overwhelmed with the whole “clothes thing”—shopping for clothes, finding bargains on clothes, mending clothes, storing clothes, washing clothes, etc.
Fortunately, at least there are ways to keep the cost of clothing for your family down, and not let the “clothes thing” be such a burden on your pocketbook. (I’ve also found it very helpful to store my children’s clothing in large, durable plastic tubs with labels on them for age and gender.)
Here are a few tips:
1. Find a hand-me-down source that’s a real winner.
Many of us are blessed to know of a family that is happy to give us hand-me-downs in good condition.
But if we aren’t, we can pray for one! If thrift stores are your thing, you’re in luck.
I don’t have access to good thrift stores (or the time to shop at them without little kids), so I like to buy gently used clothes for my kids off of Ebay.
A friend of mine gets bags of clothes in great shape off of Craigslist (for example, she will buy a bag of boy’s clothing for ages 2 to 5).
Of course, as Christian parents we are responsible for making sure that the clothes the members of our family wear reflect our values; that they are modest and don’t advertise things we don’t believe in (like TV characters that promote anti-Christian values).
With planning, discretion and some prayer, we can get a lot of the clothes, shoes and outdoor wear our family needs for just a little cash.
2. Find a couple of discount clothing stores that work for you.
It may take time initially, but as the saying goes, “shop around.” And once you have found a store that has super prices and good quality stuff, stick to it.
By shopping regularly at the same store and sticking with some of the same brands, you will save both time and money because you’ll be familiar with the sizes they use and when their sales are, etc.
I like to shop online at New Creation Apparel when I need to buy nicer clothes for myself.
They are a Christian company that gives a good portion of their sales to persecuted Christians in China.
3. Shop out of season when possible.
On a day when you don’t have “brain fry,” think ahead, and buy clothes on clearance that are out of season. Keeping an index card in your purse with your kids’ current clothes and shoe sizes can really help when you are surprised by a sale.
4. Invest in a sewing machine, or at the very least, a mending kit.
In our “throw away society” we can be a little too quick to toss out things that have holes or need buttons. The great thing about mending is that it’s so simple your older kids can often do it themselves.
This will not only teach them to be faithful stewards of what they have, but it will also help them pick up some simple sewing skills along the way.
Also, having a sewing machine handy can help you do creative and fun things with clothes (like putting cute patches over holes in your toddler’s favorite jeans), as well as make a way for you to convert and re-use clothing to suit your needs.
One of my daughter’s favorite skirts used to be a long, maroon velvet maternity top that was way too small and low-cut for me to wear. I cut off the top, sewed a casing and put elastic in it, and put some snazzy lace on the bottom, and voila!—my daughter had a beautiful skirt to wear to Mass.
If the time and interest are there, it can really be a rewarding experience to learn to sew some clothing from scratch as well, especially if you can get a hold of inexpensive cloth.
Over the years, I’ve loved sewing everything from basic skirts and t-shirts to Baptism, Flower Girl and First Communion gowns for my kids. They are not perfect pieces of work, but they have been made by Mom, and my kids know it, and it means a lot to them.
Trust me, sewing is not a natural talent for me, so if I can pull it off, plenty of people can.
5. Keep shoe polish handy. I’m convinced that Kiwi shoe polish is Heaven-sent!
Over and over, I’m amazed at how cleaning and polishing old shoes can make them look like new.
6. Don’t always buy “cheap.”
Keep in mind, the cheapest purchase isn’t always the best choice in the long run. You have to evaluate how often you think the garment will be worn, what kind of wear and tear it will receive, and if spending more on a better brand is worth it or not.
You also have to consider how many of your children it may have to go through. Something higher priced but much more durable may be a better option than the cheapest thing out there.
When it comes to dressing ourselves and our children, the Blessed Virgin is our model, and thankfully, she has a real knack for style and for bargains!
Mother Most Chaste, pray for us!