Reducing the clothing budget was a serious challenge for me. Two pre-teen girls and a teenage girl certainly didn't make life any easier. My son wasn't much of a challenge. Thank goodness, he's not "fashion conscious".
The girls on the other hand were greatly disappointed in the new methods of clothing acquisition. Freebies, thrift stores, yard sales, consignment shops, and clearance items weren't exactly their style.
I found that changing the way I approached them on the subject made things a little easier. For instance we don't buy "used" clothing. We buy "previously owned, unwanted, or gently worn" clothing.
I strongly believe that knowledge is power. And, if you want to save money on anything, you must do your research!
Informed consumer = More Savings, that's my motto. It took some shopping around for me to locate the best clothing value for my money. I did eventually find the one place where I consistently find excellent values with a great variety of choices.
I find most of my clothing "treasures" at a thrift store about 15 miles from my home. It's well worth the drive considering the great values I come away with! My cost per item averages about $3. I rarely spend more than $5 and once in a great while I'll splurge on a $6.95 item (usually new with tags still intact and a super value compared to the original price)
The thrift store where I shop is owned and operated by the National Children's Center , a local organization that provides educational services, early intervention preschool, and child care to infants and young children with and without developmental delays.
You will find that many of your local thrift stores are non-profit and support worthy charities.
I get a terrific value on name brand clothes popular with my girls peers, (Old Navy, Zana di, Paris Blues, Angel, Lei, Guess, Levi, Bubblegum, Mudd, limited Too, Adidas). Well there's not much I haven't been lucky enough to find at this store.
As a bonus my purchase also supports a worthy cause. And let's not forget that recycling these "unwanted" clothes is environmentally friendly. Everybody wins with these kinds of purchases. These are important benefits that ease the embarrassment children sometimes experience when they shop at thrift stores.
If your children are informed of all these benefits, they have the power to explain why they shop at thrift stores, if it ever comes up, and it doesn't have be for financial reasons.
The wonderful part is, it will probably never come up in a conversation with their peers. My children have never had to explain themselves. Most items are of good quality and only gently used.
You would never know we are enjoying a frugal lifestyle with a wardrobe like this!
In fact, with their closest friends the girls freely brag about the terrific deals we get on clothing. Some of their friends are even envious because of the wide selection of popular brand name jeans the girls are fortunate to own.
They have come to the realization that five pairs of name brand jeans at the thrift store is a whole lot better than one at the department store price.
I have found many brand new items with tags still intact. No way for friends to know where these great clothes came from. They probably assume they shop at some expensive department store or specialty shop.
We actually have fun shopping at the thrift store now. I have even caught a hint of excitement in them from time to time. Maybe my excitement for saving money is rubbing off.
Not! I think it's just the fabulous clothes we find! I know the saving thing will kick in later. That's what counts, teaching them how to be financially independent in life.
Besides visiting your local thrift stores you should check out these other great resources for low cost clothing.
Clothing needs change so often for children. When you consider they grow so rapidly at certain stages in life, it just makes good sense to reduce cost on clothing.
Spending $30-$50 on one pair of jeans is just wasteful. They will only get a few months of wear before they grow out of them or decide they don't like them anymore!
Yard sales are great resource for anything you might need. It may be a little more time consuming to go this route, but the rewards can be great.
If you plan your yard sale trips correctly you can save a lot of time. As you become an experienced yard sale consumer, you will learn where yard sales are frequent in your area.
Combine this information with advertised yard sales in the local paper and on roadside signs and organize your trip to minimize your travel time.
You will sometimes find bags of clothes for a great "take all" price. Even if everything isn't usable you will usually get enough useful clothing to make the purchase a good value.
Make sure the clothes are in the right size range or are something they will grow into within a reasonable amount of time. If you have the time and purchasing items individually is an option, go through the bag. Purchase only what you know will be useful.
Consignment shops are rapidly becoming popular. Not only can you find some bargain purchases here they may be a valuable resource for you to turn your unwanted items into money. You let them do all the storing, selling, and paperwork, all you have to do is collect your money!
I have a friend who sells all of her unwanted "designer" clothing on the E-Bay auction site. I have not ventured to purchase clothing on ebay myself as of yet, but have purchased many other items such as books, movies, and gifts.
Ebay is a great resource for new and pre-owned items, including clothing. Especially if you are geographically limited as far as shopping goes.
Of course there are other auction sites where you might find clothing.
In conclusion your best defense against overspending is information.
In the end the best value for you is what works best for you.
And, what's available to you in your area. Investigate all your options and determine where the best value is based on your own needs. Yes, I'm going to say it again! Sorry.
Informed Consumer = More Savings
Live Debt Free to Be Free. You Deserve It!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cheryl Johnson is a mother of four helping herself and others become and stay debt free. Publisher of Simple Debt Free Living- A self-help plan, ideas, and resources for debt reduction, personal budgeting, frugal living, and extra income opportunities
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