Friday, March 29, 2013

Frugal Friday: How to Clothe a Large Family on a Budget

This is what my living room looked like two weeks ago.

No, the mall didn't throw up in there.

It's time for the Semi-annual Sanchez Seasonal Clothing Swapout!

We've got 12 people in the family and we just don't have room to keep all the clothes in the closets and dressers. So, twice a year I swap out the winter and summer clothes. That's tip number one for how to clothe a large family (or any size family) on a budget....

1. Be organized!

        This will make more sense in the next steps as to why organzation is key (as if organiziation isn't self explanatory for keeping wardrobes for 12 people). I keep all out of season clothing and shoes in plastic totes labeled by size, gender and season and stored in the garage.

2. Be a minimalist!

        Minimalism is your friend in this department. I've found that the more clothes a kid has, the more they get dirty and the more laundry I have to wash. and wash. and wash....    So, I find a reasonable amount of clothing for each child to last through the season. Sometimes that varies depending on the age of the child. For the most part about ten sets of clothing is enough per season. If I have enough extra from hand me downs, then I'll also set aside a few extra items for when something gets worn out, and also for church or when they need to wear something other than play clothes.

3. Don't be afraid to wear used clothing!

         Now, I know some people don't like wearing used clothing, and that's totally fine. There are lots of opportunities to find new clothing at huge discounts. Almost all stores offer end of the year clearances which are great for stocking up for the next season or a few seasons down the road if you find a really good deal. Also, check my favorite coupon sites for deals that spring up all the time.

          If you don't mind used clothing, and we don't, then here is a list of avenues that I use to clothe
our family. (A list within a list? I know, I'm type A. Please forgive me.)

  • Hand-me-downs. All 12 of us wear hand me downs. And if it's something we can't use or don't like, then we can hand it down to someone else.  Call it a "swap" if you want. It's great for clothig, accessories, purses and shoes. The best part about hand-me-downs? FREE.

  • Consignment. There are stores for children and adults. I've come across some really nice consignment stores, and some that are nice and expensive. But, typically even the more expesive stores will have a sale or things on clearance at some point. Also, in many cities are seasonal consignment sales that last a week with the last day being clearance. I've sold clothing at these and I've bought clothing at these, both good experiences.

  • Thrift Stores. Sometimes the thrift store's quality of clothing isn't as nice as consignment, because it's donation, but it's also typically cheaper than consignment, and you can still find very nice clothing.

  • Yard Sales. LOVE them. Huge selection, very cheap, and negotioable.

  • Ebay. Just make sure the item has lots of pictures and detailed descriptions. Also, look at the seller's history. I've had good success buying clothing on Ebay, but I've also had lots of stress from trying to win an auction with a bazillion other bidders.

  • Make your own. I'm not a seamstress, but I have been known to repurpose a thing or two if need be.
This is the time where organization comes in handy. When someone gives me hand me downs I go through them immediately, decide what I can use, and tuck them away in my labeled totes. Whatever I can't use, I go ahead and pass on to someone else. I also have a rule. If someone can't wear it in the next two years, and it's not something I don't want to part with, then I will hand it down.  Even keeping clothes labed and organized into totes can take over the garage if you save every size and every season for every body. But, if you don't have a large family, you may want to keep it all.

4. Set up a clothing budget!

             Keeping some money set aside strictly for clothing has allowed me to purchase things that I come across at great deals. Whether it's online, or thrift or wherever, if I see a pair of brand new jeans marked down to $2 I can snatch those up and stick them in the totes til the following season. If I know that someone will need jeans anyway, then I can plan ahead and get the good deal, so I'm all set when that next season arrives. I know it's hard to do with a large family, but I just make it a habit to keep my eye out for deals.

5. Name brands tend to last!

             In my experience, especially with used clothing, name brands tend to last much longer and stain less. Now, that's not to say that a name brand piece of clothing can't be ruined, because my children can ruin some clothing (can we say NO! to anything white?), but overall the quality tends to be better. If you can find a brand name clearance item, let's say a tshirt, for $2, that's such a better deal than a cheap brand bought new for $4. The $4 item will wear out in no time, and if I buy something new, I plan to have as many kids wear it as possible. Funny story. I bought two brand name plaid shorts overalls (boys size 2T) about seven years ago at a seasonal consignment sale on their 60% off day. I paid about $5 for both pairs. THREE of my boys wore those overalls, and they were in such great shape that I sold them again at a consignment sale for $5.

So, do you have any tips to add?


Dawn said...

This post gave me nightmares...only because we haven't done ours yet.
Thankfully, my two oldest girls now do their own. I help the boys, and the two younger girls just need a little bit of help.

The worst part for me now is knowing that whatever my two youngest outgrow...there is no baby to grow into that stuff. Boo hoo.

Courtney said...

LOL! My oldest does her own clothing, but I still do the rest. I was thinking that eventually we won't have 16 rubbermaid tubs sitting in the garage one day. I know, sad. But, I probably will have at least 1 or 2 of stuff I just can't part with.

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