- The main way we get clothing for free is through clothing swaps. We have done them formally through homeschooling or other groups where everyone brings in old clothes and swaps them for clothes they need. We currently do them as part of a group we meet with weekly.
- We also have a system with many friends where they pass clothes to us when their kids outgrow them and I pass mine to someone else. Passing bags of clothing to friends is fun. My girlfriends and I also have a clothing bag that we continually pass around, taking out what we like and putting in what we don't need. When we see each other we point and say "Hey! That looks great on you!" I love seeing our family's old clothes being put to good use.
- I know I've mentioned this before, but another way I get clothes for free is to help people move, clean, or have a garage sale. Although I never formally ask, the people I help always give me lots of free stuff. Another strategy I've used is to hit garage sales at closing time and offer to help clean up. People are usually exhausted and are glad to give me stuff just so they won't have to deal with it.
- My mom picks up used clothes for the kids pretty regularly. Grandparents and other relatives are a great way to fill in the clothing gaps that occur. If, like us, your kids don't play with lots of electronics and they aren't into whatever the hotest toy is, then that leaves room for clothing as gifts. (If you specify that you prefer used clothes, you're likely to get even more!)
- We take old items that we don't want to the consignment store regularly. (This includes clothes, books, and anything that's cluttering up our house.) Then, I use the credit to get "new" things we need. Right now we are getting lots of credit at the consignment store because our $13,000 house came with LOTS of the previous owner's stuff. So, we take that stuff in for trade-in credit. :)
- If you do drop some money for clothes, try to buy out of season. Even better if you can combine this method at a trade-in consignment store. For example, bring them clothes they need this season and make your store credit go further by "buying" clothes that are going out of season and thus 50-75% off.
- Many thrift/consignment stores I've found have free boxes where the clothes didn't quite meet the standard in one way or another. These are a jackpot, as far as I'm concerned. I pick up anything my kids can wear or will be able to wear in the future. (Mending is often required.)
- If you shop thrift stores, do it when there's a sale. A thrift store near my mom's house is one where everything costs a quarter. On their sale days, (usually at change of season) they give you a sack and the sale is as much as you can stuff in a sack for a quarter! Even though that's not technically free, its pretty stinkin' close!
|Photo credit: Brian J. Matis,San Luis Obispo, CA|
Store it. In our garage, we have tubs of clothes that are too big for the kids. Every season change, I pull them out and then figure out what we need. I trade in their out of season clothes in order to get any needed items.
Stitch it. If your not a mender, taking free clothes will turn you in to one. Many people get rid of clothes when all they need is a button or a patch.
Say it. There's something magical that happens when you let people know your needs. It didn't take long of me telling people that I'm open to free clothes before the clothes started finding me. So many people have stuff that they want to get rid of and they are happy to give it to someone who will use it!
So, can you do this? Do you have a group who you can swap clothes with? Have you asked around at all the thrift store to see about their sales and free boxes? Do you have a consignment store that allows you to get store credit?