by Sherri @ Little Home in the Country
Using thrift shops, freecycle and clothing swaps as your main sources for family clothing and home textiles, you can provide the bulk of your family’s needs at little to no cost. The keys to efficiently and successfully using these resources are as follows:
1. Know what you need by keeping an updated list in your wallet or purse at all times. This eliminates unnecessary purchases and prevents you from buying new at the last minute. If you are prepared in advance for coming seasonal weather changes (or growth spurts in children), you’ll have plenty of time to source what will be needed BEFORE you actually need it.
2. Aim for minimalist wardrobes for everyone in the family. Look for basic key pieces that can be worn together (mix and match) to bring the greatest flexibility and the most “bang for your buck”.
3. Regularly go through closets, drawers and stored clothes (whether off season or the next size for children to grow into) to take stock of wardrobe gaps that need filling. I suggest doing this task monthly or at minimum, seasonally. This helps you to maintain a truly accurate needs list so you can “shop” efficiently in second hand stores or at clothing swaps.
4. Keep your “inventory” well organized at home. If you have several children and can hand clothes down to younger siblings, be vigilant about boxing clothes up and labeling WELL as to what is inside (gender, size and season). Don’t keep too much as this can become a “clutter” liability rather than a clothing asset.
5. Purge regularly. Needs and lifestyles change and children grow. Donate or sell anything no longer useful or serviceable to free up space for incoming (needed) garments.
Supply and demand plays into the household economy as it relates to clothes and textiles. Some items are as rare as “hen’s teeth” (pants for 10 year old boys, for example as most boys wear through their pants with their rough and tumble play). This fact means that boys’ pants might need to be purchased new. Look to seasonal sales and plan ahead so that you never pay full retail price.
Only consider paying full price for quality items that you know you can get many years of use out of (an adult winter coat that will be worn for many years or a child’s coat that can be handed down to younger siblings). Never pay full price for something that is in great supply second hand in your area (such as a child’s t-shirt).
Special occasion garments are often costly budget breakers, but they are very easily sourced second hand. Most of them have been worn once and often, not at all. If you have an upcoming special occasion to attend, be sure to source your clothing early to avoid last minute costly new purchases. Note that dress shoes are also widely available second hand, often with barely a scuff (usually having been worn only once).
Additionally, sheets, towels, curtains, blankets, quilts and aprons are all available through the sources listed above and many thrift stores offer garbage bags full of worn towels selling for just a few dollars. These can be cut up for cleaning clothes or shop rags and eliminate the need for buying expensive and/or disposable cleaning cloths and shop towels. You can also cut up your own worn clothing and linens to be used in this manner for free (the ultimate in recycling).
Using these three resources wisely and efficiently, home managers can fill nearly every family and household textile need for a fraction of the cost of new, with very little effort. Happy shopping, simple living style!