Clothing is one area that can be very expensive, but it’s also one of the easiest places to cut costs. Unless you have special clothing needs (like special dress clothes or work attire, or odd sizes), with careful planning, I believe that anyone should be able to outfit the troops for a fraction of what you’d normally pay. And I don’t mean that they should look like they came out of the rag bag! 🙂
Here are a few tips for saving money on clothing.
I learned this lesson one day when I almost absently breathed a sentence prayer, “God, Elizabeth sure needs some new shirts.” Actually I planned to go buy her some…But by the end of the day, someone had given us a big bag of clothes that included a bunch of shirts in Elizabeth’s size. Now when we have a clothing need I pray first!
Another time, when Elizabeth was a baby, we were on a trip to visit family and she had outgrown all but two of her outfits. I mentioned to Billy that we needed to stop and pick up some clothes before we arrived at our destination. As we got closer to our planned stop, he said, “I just don’t have a peace about doing that.” I kind of inwardly rolled my eyes and thought, so what do you expect this child to wear? Well, when we got to my mom’s house—you guessed it—there was a big box of baby clothes from an old family friend. I guess God showed me!
Always Accept Hand-me-downs
Don’t be too proud to accept hand-me-downs. People ask me frequently, “Would you be offended if I offered you some hand-me-downs?” This question always amazes me. I always say, “No way! We love hand-me-downs at our house!”
Of course, you have to have at least a few friends and acquaintances in order for people to offer you clothing. This is one of the very practical reasons it’s beautiful to be part of a community of faith. God uses us to meet each others’ practical needs. And honestly, the hand-me-down clothes I’ve gotten are usually way nicer than what I’d be able to afford if I were buying clothes from the store.
Some people say it’s not worth the hassle to save clothing, but for us it’s been a lifesaver. Also, if I end up with a surplus or something that doesn’t work for us, it gives me opportunity to pass clothes on to someone else who can use them.
Shop Thrift and Consignment
You have to pick through things at thrift stores, and some stores are better than others, but you can find amazing deals there. Just be choosy. You can find up-to-date styles, brand names, and even clothes with tags still on. One of my brothers got an expensive navy blazer to wear to my wedding at Goodwill for 99 cents. I hear that you can really find good stuff if you shop thrift and consignment shops near upscale neighborhoods in some parts of the country. I don’t thrift as much as I should, but it’s something I may do in the future.
Learn to Sew
Anyone can learn to sew simple clothing. Especially if you buy fabric on sale, you can make garments at very low cost. Wal-Mart usually has a dollar-a-yard table with pretty cotton prints. If you bought a couple yards and made a knee length cotton skirt (so nice and cool for summer), you’d have it for less than $3.
Shop Clearance Racks
Learn to shop off-season. Summer clothes are on final clearance right now! Wait till they hit rock bottom prices and then buy pieces for next spring and summer. Same goes for winter clothes. It’s usually not too hard to guess what size a child will be the next year, so sometimes you can do this for kids too. I’ve worn name brand clothes that I got for $2 or $3 for many years.
Stick to a Classic Look
It gets expensive to buy trendy clothes only to have them looking dated by the next season. Make classic pieces the foundation of your wardrobe, and then add inexpensive trendy accessories if that’s the look you like. That way you aren’t out much on transient styles. Buy classic shoes in neutral shades that will go with everything. Now I am hardly the one to be handing out fashion advice, but the principles work if you know what you like.
Be happy when someone gives you clothes, even if they are not the exact styles you might have chosen. Don’t fall prey to the “must-have” mentality. Keep your wardrobe simple and let go of the clothing habit, if you have one. A small wardrobe is much easier to maintain anyway, especially for children.
For the rest of the frugal series, check out the Frugality category!