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Frugual Living: All About Clothes

As a family with children, living on one income requires creativity, ingenuity and frugality.   There have been periods in our marriage that have required complete frugality and other periods where we have had some ‘wiggle room’.   Choosing to living on a single income with a large family in today’s world can be a challenge but it can be done.

Continuing my series on frugal living, today I want to share some suggestions and tips on clothing your family and yourself that have worked for our family.

“We soon came to realise that this was the key to our shopping problem.  Instead of doing as other families did, buying generally what there was an immediate foreseeable need for, we found that by buying more than we needed we could save an enormous amount of money in the long run……time after time we saved money by buying shirts, socks, underwear, blouses – anything that was on special sale. This also applied to food. ” (Who Gets the Drumstick by Helen Beardsley)

1. I buy when sales are on, in particular the end of season sales.  This is when clothes are very cheap. I often buy in a larger size for the next season, and even sizes in between if I have a group of the same gender.  I don’t buy too far ahead if there is a big age spread between genders (clothes date and elastic expires)

2. I shop around and compare prices, but I also consider quality.  Whilst the bulk of my clothes shopping is not brand new when I do buy new I consider quality and won’t buy cheap and nasty. Over the years I have learnt what brands from what shops last and will ‘pass up’ a cheaper price to wait for the sale on the better quality brands.  This way clothes will last at least two children, or if I’m lucky three.

3. We have always been blessed to receive bags of second hand clothes from others.  This has been a huge saving for us, we are so grateful for people’s generosity and be generous to others in return.

4. Op-shops(thrift) and garage sales are my favourite places to shop.  I find if I’m selective about quality and style I can dress my children and myself very well.  It astounds me how I’ve been able to find high quality designer labels.  Some op-shops tend to attract the better quality clothes, and indeed some towns tend to have better quality.

5. Recently I’ve also begun to look at op-shop clothes (and gifted and sales) slightly differently.  I’ve also begun to ‘upcycle’ clothes.  This means whereas before I might have not purchased something because it wasn’t quite what I liked, I’m finding with a little alteration (or a larger alteration) it can become perfect.  Upcycling sometimes is really thinking ‘outside the box’, I’ve seen pillowcases converted to little girls nighties etc.  Google upcycle and be blown away by creativity.

6. Whilst op-shop prices are quite reasonable they are even cheaper on their sale days.

7. In my early married life I sewed alot but fabrics became very expensive.  Lately I’ve been looking at op-shops for remnants and even sheets, doona covers, pillowcases etc as fabric, remember my fabric bins?

8. Shoes can be one of our priciest items to buy. Whilst I’ve always tried to buy on sales (buy one get one half price), I will now often grab the really marked down price if I know they are the style liked and will fit someone eventually.  Whilst buying second hand shoes might not be to everyone’s taste I also keep an eye out in the op-shops, by being selective I have often found brand new, barely used shoes.  I don’t just buy the size that fits now but will buy slightly larger there too.

9. I occasionally have bought from ebay, and buying a bulk consignment can lower postage.  However the drawback of ebay is I can’t physically assess the clothing.

10. I have always stored clothes and shoes for our children, having a mix of ages and genders this has been an extreme saving for us.  (Keeping in mind that clothes date, elastic expires and shoes do best stored in shoe boxes)

Do you have any further tips and suggestions on how to frugally clothe your family and yourself?

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  • Karen @ Pieces of Contentment

    Another thing which has helped us is buying some items like jackets, toddler shoes, in gender neutral colours – that way each child can wear them.
    Also we have of fewer outfits per child than many families, washing each day except Sunday. Clothes which are line dried last longer than those dried in a dryer.

    Another thing we often do is cut long jeans into shorts for the following summer as the weather warms up. Sometimes it's even cheaper to buy end of winter jeans on special and cut them to a shorter length rather than buying new season shorts.

    Washing soiled clothes immediately can prevent many stains setting. Keeping any stained clothes to use as pyjamas instead of buying pyjamas.
    Never let wet clothes lie crumpled up – hang out to dry immediately to avoid mildew.

  • Deanne

    While, I don't often have to buy many clothes for our one girl, I do find that there are sometimes gaps in her wardrobe- particularly winter church dresses. Because our winter is so short, I have found that I can buy dresses (on sale) a couple of sizes bigger and she can get 2 – 3 seasons wear out of them. I also bought her a lovely pink coat (greatly reduced) in a size 8- I think she may see 3-4 years from this one!

  • Cinnamon

    We do much of the same. I love garage sales & thrift store. Such good buys there. We have one thrift store that you can get a Wal-mart bag filled with clothes, shoes, belts, hats all for $1. Works great for me 🙂

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