Reducing FAITH Expenses: Apparel

This is the second in a series of money saving strategies for reducing your FAITH expenses. FAITH = food, apparel, insurance, transportation, and housing.

Recucing Apparel Costs

Clothing yourself, a family, and a home is expensive but you don’t have to break the budget. With a little closet cleaning, party planning, and splurging, you can redirect your resources from the “spent” category straight into your savings account!

When kids are growing, their clothes practically shrink overnight! Hand-me-downs – especially for kids who don’t know any better or before they have strong opinions about what to wear – are great when kids are young and go through sizes quickly. Inheriting clothes from family or friends helps defray the costs of growing youngsters. I always asked friends who had great taste if I could have their hand-me-downs when my kids were younger. It’s win-win! Closets are cleaned out quickly from those who can no longer fit the sizes and “new to you” clothes magically appear in your child’s closet.

New to me Ralph Lauren shirt
My new Ralph Lauren dress shirt – pretty and free!

Don’t forget about you – what about a “naked lady party” or whatever the term is in your neck of the woods? Invite friends over for drinks and clothing swap! Whip up a  signature cocktail and have your crew bring with them clothing they no longer like or plan to wear. Everyone wins here! Take leftover clothing to your local donation spot and get busy wearing your latest wardrobe additions.

Reducing FAITH Expenses: Apparel

Here are 9 strategies for reducing apparel expenses.

  1. Choose :: Choose classic styles that can be worn for multiple seasons. Limit purchases of trendy clothing and accessories so that your clothing can be worn for multiple seasons instead of one.
  2. Reduce :: Having fewer items in your closet means there’s less to keep track of. Be sure and limit the number of “dry clean only” garments and save on those costs as well.
  3. Learn :: Learn basic simple clothing repairs. Don’t know how to sew on a button? Ask a friends to teach you. Missing a hem in your favorite pants? Trade a service with a friend who’s handy with a sewing machine.
  4. Limit :: Limit the use of your dryer. Not only is this better for your clothing – all that heat is hard on fabric – but you’ll help your clothing last longer. Limiting use of the dryer will save on utility costs, too.
  5. Dry :: Dry your items for 10 minutes or less in the dryer to remove wrinkles and make towels soft, not crunchy. Indoor laundry lines are easy to install and you can use them all year long.
  6. Shop :: Shopping second-hand first can really lower the cost of buying clothing both for you and your family and your home as well. Home decorations can be bought second-hand as well. Look for quality pillows that have ugly covers. The pillows can be washed and the covers can be donated. Don’t forget about slip-covers, too. They’re a great way to extend the life of furniture.
  7. Move :: Try moving your furniture or accessories around before buying new pieces. Throw pillows can really update a room and cost a lot less than a new sofa or chair. Don’t forget about framing artwork with second-hand frames as an alternative to buying new pictures to adorn your walls.
  8. Adopt :: Adopt a new past time or find a different activity to replace shopping if that’s your favorite sport. Go for a hike or meet a friend for coffee rather than going shopping.
  9. Splurge :: Want to splurge? Go for it but limit your purchases to a new pair of shoes, a belt or a scarf. By adding a pretty accessory you’ll feel like it’s a whole new outfit and you only bought one new item.

From the Goodwill Bins

Clothing yourself, a family, and a home is expensive but it doesn’t have to break the budget. Clean out closets, have a party, move furniture, splurge a little, or learn to sew – these techniques can help redirect your resources from the “spent” category straight into your savings account.

How do you limit the cost of clothing at your house?

Go Gingham related links:

Using nature to decorate your home – frugal and fancy decorating
How to tutorial on the dining room table ping-pong
A little home office in our dining room
How to make a waistband smaller without pins!
How to turn jeans into capris – easier than you think!
How to make skinny jeans from wide leg jeans – make your own “jeggings”

More related links:

Amy has some great tips for cleaning out a closet on Frugal Mama – “5 Good Things You’ll Get When You Clean Out Your Closet”

9 thoughts on “Reducing FAITH Expenses: Apparel

  1. I buy clothes only once or twice a year. Unable to find anything in my size at secondhand shops.

    Also buy pieces that can mix and match. I favor neutral pants with a colored top.


  2. One change I made years ago that greatly affected my desire to shop for clothing (and other household items) is that I cancelled all the catalogs I received. Between J. Crew, Crate and Barrel, Land’s End, Banana Republic – it was a lot of paper coming into my home – plus it made me desire things I didn’t necessarily need. Now I receive no catalogs (or magazines) and I am blissfully ignorant of the retail prices I *could* be paying for new items. Give me a good garage sale, Bag Lady party, or Goodwill spree any day!


  3. In addition to shopping secondhand, you can sometimes find clothes on places like craigslist. This is especially true for “work” clothes (e.g., scrubs, coveralls), kids’ clothes, and maternity clothes. People will often sell these types of clothes in lots or bundles.
    We still frequently shop at department stores. We don’t pay much, though. If you have the time and patience you can often find incredible deals on the clearance racks. I have a professional suit that I got for $4 and dozens of shirts—many are name brands—that were purchased for $1-2. The trick is digging through the racks long enough to find them!


  4. Sara – I love your suggestions. I try to wear my clothes more than once when possible to save on wear and tear. I also sort my closet frequently to keep it from getting overcrowded. It’s a lot easier to get ready in the morning if your clothes are organized and easy to find.


  5. Interesting that you bring this up. Today is my “clean out the closet” day! I just noticed that both the kids and I have so much stuff that doesn’t fit anymore. I am separating everything into piles/boxes, and sending them on to both friends & cousins who now where these sizes!

    As far as buying new, well that rarely happens. If it does, I go straight to the “clearance” rack first! It’s amazing what great deals you can find on that rack!! Or, I will shop a garage sale anyday. For some reason, I would rather shop a yard-sale than a Department Store. Not sure if it is the thrill of the hunt, or what. But, I have way more fun and find the cutest things for practically nothing when I am not really looking!


  6. When every day is laundry day it means thin out the closet.

    But how many clothes do we need? Two weeks worth? More? Less? Then there’s a the ‘fat’ and ‘skinny’ clothes.

    I’m sneaking my oldie but goodie shirts into my kids’ closets and let them decide. It’s a start.


  7. I started Goodwill hunting long time back. Few of the BEST dresses have come from there and I wear them with pride. Another tip I use is to go straight for the sales rack of the big department stores.I have bought Vera Vang jeans for $4, long sweaters for $5 each.I once bought a full skirt suit – complete with shirt and fuchsia jacket for $8. I guess no one was buying it for it looked quite garish on the hanger. But I mix it up with a trendy skirt and use the black skirt with a different formal coat. Teamed up with the right scarf, the outfits look like a million bucks. One of my fav sweaters had a BIG hole in its arm and the store had it for sale for $2. Originally worth almost 60 bucks, this was a prize too. Great article Sara, and very close to my heart. Love it! Sharing.


  8. 1. Now that I have pretty much everything I need, one strategy is to get super picky:
    * must fit perfectly
    * must be flattering
    * must be washable
    * must go with something I already have
    * must be wearable for things I actually do
    * must have pockets (if it’s pants, a skirt, a dress, or a blazer)
    That keeps me from going too overboard since most things don’t fit all these criteria.

    2) Keep a list of things I’m looking for so I can pull it out and head straight for those things when I’m at a thrift store, outlet store, clearance rack, etc. Don’t even look at other sections.

    3) No dryer–it started because my house has a washer connection but no dryer connection. I still do it because stretchy things last so much longer when you don’t dry them. A ceiling fan over the drying rack helps if you are drying clothes indoors.

    4) I mostly go with mix-and-match solids and then pretty it up with earrings and necklaces.

    5) I have started mending things, even socks. Sometimes the fabric is just weak and tears again shortly afterwards. Occasionally the mend doesn’t look good. But I’m often surprised at how well a mend works out. I try to divert things with holes to a spot next to the TV with the sewing kit before the holes get too but, but the bigger the holes, the easier it is to remember!

    I used to get hand-me-ups from my little sister, which was awesome. She has good taste! But she lives too far away now.

    I’ve found that having fewer things and wearing the same ones over and over mean that the things wear out faster than I’m used to, so I don’t go super minimalist anymore (i.e., 4 pairs of slacks and 1 pair of jeans in the winter when I wear slacks or jeans every single day).

    And I’ve learned that when I replace something, I need to make sure it’s actually better than the thing I’m replacing before I get rid of the old thing. Sometimes the new thing doesn’t wash well or turns out to have something even more annoying than the old thing.

    And I hate trying to find pants that fit, so I admit that I go to LLBean, but I do look for clearance and sale items and use their credit card when buying from them in order to build up rewards.


  9. I love Clothing Swap parties! I save my best items for these, and they are always a blast. Your tips are so great, Sara, not just for budgeting but for preserving the environment. What a great guide!


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