Saving Hand Me Down Clothing Can Save You Money

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When my first child was a toddler, we had no idea if we could have more children. In fact, he was three and a half before our second child was born. But, ever hopeful, I had saved his baby clothes for the next child.

Who would have thought that I would get so much bang for my buck by saving those hand me downs for the next kids?! In fact, thanks to durable clothing, proper storage, and a little patience, we’ve saved quite a bit of cash by holding onto hand me down clothing.

In fact, even my girls are able to wear some of the items that my oldest wore when he was a preschooler!

Last week, I sorted through and did a “changing of the guard,” if you will. The youngest FishBoys were cajoled into trying on a number of different clothing items to see if they still fit. What was too small was passed on to the next kid or the giveaway bag. What was left was there for him to add to his wardrobe.

Here are some tricks that have helped us save money on clothes over the years:

Buy Durable Clothing

I don’t spend big bucks on name brand clothing. I never wanted to fuss over stains and tears which is what I would do if I was buying expensive clothing. Instead, we’ve chosen to shop for classic, quality items, usually on clearance. I prefer new, though I know lots of people who find great ideas at thrift stores. Either way, buy something that appears to have a lasting quality — in both substance and fashion.

Store Clothes Properly

As you may know, I have major bug and rodent issues. I can generally handle spiders, but every other creepy, crawling thing better stay away. As such we’ve invested in Sterilite boxes to store clothing. These stack well in the kids’ closets, come in a variety of colors, and generally keep bugs and rodents from investigating your stored clothing.

Be Patient

The patience part comes in when it’s time to change your kids’ wardrobes. It can be a chore to switch out the old and figure out what hand me downs will work. Kids can vary in taste as well as body build. But, think of it as shopping in your own home. Not only will you save a bundle on gas, but you’ll save money on clothes, too.

What do YOU do to save money?

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  1. THANK YOU so much for this post!
    I’ve saved most of the clothing from my oldest (he’s nearly 6) – and we’re still using the ‘nicer’ pieces 3 kids later for our 6 month old!

    HOWEVER, the storage of such clothing in our little house is beginning to drive my husband a little nuts – any suggestions for how to balance the saving of clothing w/ little storage space?

  2. We have two daughters and we have saved so much money from storing my oldest daughter’s clothes for my youngest to use. Sometimes I feel badly that our youngest mostly wears hand-me-downs. But at 3 she doesn’t realize it yet.

    Thanks for the link-up.

  3. I had no idea we would be having another when we had our first. #2 was thankfully another girl, but we hadn’t saved much from #1. πŸ™ No good. We saved a lot of #2s clothes not even thinking about having another come along, but then I was pregnant again with #3. All girls. All usable clothes. πŸ™‚ Been passing them along though, because I have a few friends having girls and a rough time financially. Not thinking we will have any more. Possible adoption (in 5-10 years) or fostering. Called to it.

  4. I do this also. I have a 5 year old boy that is in size 6/7, and a 3 year old boy who is in mostly hand me downs. I will buy a new thing for him occasionally. I have donated a bunch of stuff to goodwill (receipt for showing donation goes in the taxes file), and actually sold some of the baby stuff at a garage sale last year. I have limited storage also. I use every space under the beds, in the closets, etc. It didn’t help that I had a summer baby, and a winter baby, because not all hand me downs worked. I have baby number three on the way. I don’t know if it’s a boy, or a girl, so I’ve got to keep everything I have right now.
    Also, after the first baby, you know what works for you, and what doesn’t, and can sell what doesn’t. I can’t use footy pajamas because my boys are too long, and I hated fighting with them to change the baby’s diaper. You get the idea.

  5. Thanks for hosting this link up, I have already found some great ideas! I goofed on #15 above and was unable to delete it so feel free to remove it. Thanks again for sharing great ideas.

  6. Sorting, storing, and changing the my kids’ clothes is one of my major trials as a parent. I really dislike it. I like your suggestion to think of it as shopping (thrift shopping is probably a good comparison). I also have saved money by buying gender-neutral clothing as much as possible. My kids’ (boy and girl) wore the same clothes for the first 3 months of life, and whatever else could pass as gender-neutral afterwards.

  7. We do this; each size goes in a box (one per size for each sex). I also have one box of boys shoes and one box of girls shoes.

    Today we went “shopping” in my closet (where I keep the boxes) for shoes for 2 of my children.

    I also have boxes for BIGGER sizes. That way, if someone passes something on to us, or we get something at a garage sale (I buy a couple sizes ahead) I can have it in he box, ready to go. When my son grows taller and needs new pants, I just go get the box, and I have clothing ready in the next size up. If a birthday comes along, I can also go to the box for clothing for gifts (both new and used).

    This saves me so much time.

  8. Doesn’t everyone do this? πŸ™‚ LOL! As a mom, now I know that not everyone does this. Seems to be that people think: new baby = new stuff. I grew up in a family of 9 and hand-me-downs were just part of the territory, whether they came from older siblings or cousins who had finished wearing them.

    I agree, storage can be tricky. We use the Sterilite totes, too, and they are taking up a lot of room in the small walk-up attic we have. We have a girl (4) and a boy (2) and another girl on the way, so at least I’ll be able to reuse some of the girls’ things. Different seasons, though, but I know the bigger things will work (just not the itty bitty stuff).

    We are having a huge consignment sale at a church here today and I plan on getting a few pieces for the baby that I still need and checking for clothes for the older 2. I don’t mind buying used, but I don’t buy the cheapest clothes, either, as I know we are passing them on to others.

  9. With our four children saving the hand me downs has been a huge saver. It is so nice to just look through a bin in the closet for the next seasons clothes instead of running to the store.

  10. Hand me downs have kept us afloat financially. In the years when Christmas gifts were toothbrushes and new socks, everything else (except some underwear) was from older siblings, neighbors, or friends.

    Great post!

    Annie Kate

  11. We do the same thing. We have 2 boys (6 and 4) and a 4 month old daughter. I keep all the boys clothes until our youngest out grows them, then I will save whatever his little sister might be able to wear down the road or give the remaining pieces to a friend/Salvation Army/church boutique.

    Our boys are very close in size, so I am starting to find that they can wear the same size shirt/underwear/socks but different size in jeans and shoes. I am thinking of starting a “community” drawer of same size items with pants being separated.

    As far as storage goes, we use the Sterlite bins as well. My husband was going nuts with all the bins as well but understands the benefits. We are done having children (unless the good Lord decides to gives us a SUPER surprise πŸ™‚ so I have been getting rid off all newborn stuff etc that I can. It is a nice feeling to be able to cut down on all the “stuff”.

    For the boys I typically buy new items, sometimes I do find a good thrift store/used children clothing store find. However, I find that the newer clothes tend to last a lot longer so that each boy gets a chance to wear the clothing. Unlike a lot of the used clothing that we have bought. I am thinking though for our daughter I will see what used items I can find since those clothes will only being going through one child.

  12. I have 3 boys and we have passed down clothes from my oldest to middle to youngest. Of course, some clothes wear out after one or two boys wearing them and some look very outdated, but many have lasted.

    Soon after my youngest was born, I commented how my oldest had worn the outfit he had on. My sister-in-law was so shocked that we had saved the clothes. I told her we knew we were having more kids, so why not? We had the storage space, and it has saved us tons of money over the years.

  13. With 5 kids, 4 boys & 1 girl, I follow a similar system with the plastic boxes. I label the outside of the boxes with the size & whether it’s boy or girl. I always check the boy boxes first for clothes that my daughter can wear to stretch her thrifted wardrobe. When I do my seasonal clothing switch, I evaluate what I have and get rid of stuff if I need to. Even though we have a lot of used clothes, the kids still get new ones during the year. Some clothes wear out faster than others like sweat pants. I try to catch these holes early and use these mended sweatpants as play clothes.

    When I thrift clothes to fill in the holes, I do stick to the name brands because I’ve found that they’re generally better made and last longer, a bit plus with boys!

  14. I agree, hand-me downs can save a lot of money. The only thing we have struggled with is sometimes the elastic waist band in pants gets brittle after sitting there in the plastic bin for years and renders the pants no good. Any suggestions? (Note: Our first son was almost 5 years older than the second son so there was a long wait to reuse his clothing.)

  15. With 6 kids of my own, I have a great relationship with Sterilite boxes, but I will pass on a small warning. I have found that things like shoes with rubber soles, or the elastic in pajamas and bathing suits somehow gets ruined with prolonged storage in plastic boxes. Those things may need to be kept in cardboard boxes in the closet. Hope that helps!

  16. I do the same thing with clothes! I have some awesome quality thrift stores around me that I have bought clothes and many things, all 3 of my kids have worn, plus I then give to daycare kids who they go through 2 or 3 more kids. Talk about getting your money’s worth!! Great tips, thanks!

  17. This is a great post, and perfect for frugal shoppers. I buy almost everything on clearance with coupons, but uniform pants I find at the. Last week I just wentthrift store shopping, and I found uniform shorts and pants for $1 each.

  18. Hooray for hand me downs! We just did the seasonal clothing switch here last week(in Florida). My youngest loves unpacking her new wardrobe each season from the storage tub. I rarely have to buy her anything new which saves us so much money.

  19. After my second child I went through a horrible “I’m done having kids” phase. I ended up throwing away so many clothes because I was quite certain that I wouldn’t be having more children. I regret that to this day!!!

  20. We love hand-me-downs at our home. We have some very wonderful friends who pass their daughter’s clothing on to us and my sister-in-law passes her son’s clothing down. It’ s wonderful that with three kids under four we have probably only bought only 10 items of clothing.

    The “changing of the guard” is my least favorite part. I almost hate the change of seasons because it means an entire day overhauling our closets and drawers.

    I’ve discovered that it makes it a little easier if I place outgrown clothes into the bin as we go through the season, that way I already know I’ve taken everything out of their closet and drawers that no longer fits.

  21. Great tips! Since spring is coming and we are ready to go “shopping” in our bins I think my kids are going to be helping me sort and organize this year. Why is it the older they get the more they trash their clothes and the less there is to keep for the next kid?

  22. I have 3 girls and 1 boy. My oldest wears the clothes, and then I do exactly as you have done. Pack them up in the giant containers and wait for the next kiddo to grow into them πŸ™‚ I only have to purchase shoes and bathings suits each year for them and occasionally something that has all worn through…like pants with holes in the knees. It never seems to matter that the material is jeans or whatever, we always have holey knees. So I chop those into shorts, and maybe have to purchase some pants πŸ™‚ My current six year old is wearing a whole ton of “sweat-pant shorts” that work fabulously after I hem them. It has saved me SO much money over the years. I also buy my oldests clothes when they are reduced prices the previous year before. We always tell each girl “be careful in those clothes. You are ruining your sister’s shirt!” lol. Yes, every year at swap out time can always be a pain, but it’s a short lived pain. And it’s no more hassle than taking them all to the store, trying on different clothes and sizes and trying to find things that will fit. We just do the trying on at home, and in our own time πŸ™‚ What better way?