Saving Hundreds of Dollars a Year on Back-To-School Clothes: The Joy of Receiving Hand-Me-Downs

It’s estimated that parents will spend $250 per child on back-to-school clothing this year, according to a new study released by The National Retail Foundation. So…if you have two kids, you’ll drop around $500 this summer for clothing and so on. It adds up. Unless you have another traditional source of clothing… hand-me-downs. 

hand-me-down t-shirt
My son trying to show off the front of his new never-before-worn hand-me-down shirt, which is now one of his favorites. (Photo taken when he was off-guard!)

I have a friend, “T,” who gives me loads of hand-me-down clothing for my son. She gets boat-loads of hand-me-downs from other sources, so many of the items still have tags on them. She delivers hundreds of dollars worth of clothing, most in great shape, to me on occasion throughout the year. “T” always asks me to be honest with her….”Do you really want all this clothing, be honest with me.” WHAT? Of COURSE I want all that clothing! I keep telling her it’s like Christmas every time we get bags/bins/boxes from her. Evidently, “T” knows many moms who refuse to take anyone else’s “used” clothing. (For more on this subject, click on this post.)Listen, I’m cheap, I relish quality, and I’m extraordinarily lucky. Our family has survived on excellent quality hand-me-downs from various sources for years. I even organized them in the attic per Amy Dacyczyn’s advice in The Tightwad Gazette. I have probably spent a total of a couple of hundred (if that) dollars per year on new clothing and shoes for two kids when they need something that’s not already in the bureau/closet. Hand-me-downs also helped cut down on those expensive Halloween costumes (see this article in HuffPost).    The flow of hand-me-down clothing for my daughter has slowed down, so now I’m relegated to looking for great deals. I find deals–mostly at Old Navy, Kohl’s, The Children’s Place, and other discount department stores (using coupons and ingenuity), but the quality is hit or miss. Now that she’s almost into junior sizes, it’ll be oh-so-fun to figure out a place that sells good-quality and budget junior items. Luckily, I have not heard from either of my kids that they don’t like wearing hand-me-downs. (It’s probably because the clothing still looks fashionable, clean, and in great shape when it comes to us.) In fact, when “T” dropped off tons of clothing last week, my son tore through those bags/bins with joy, and it even moved him to clean out his drawers/closet of too-small clothing which we gave away/donated.    The thing about hand-me-downs is this: they are hand-me-downs for a reason! They are good quality items that made it through the multiple wearings and washings in one piece! How many items of clothing can we say that about these days with all the imported clothing that falls apart after a couple of wearings/washings? To have a bureau-full or closet-full of classic, beautiful boy’s and girl’s clothing from The Gap or Lord & Taylor is a gift, not something to be ashamed of. (For those who just hate the term hand-me-down, I heard somewhere that the new, more modernized term is “upcycled” children’s clothing. OMG!) I also pass on clothing to friends or to Goodwill. And Goodwill of Westport is the first stop when I’m shopping for “new” clothes for the family. So, if someone asks you if you want their gently worn clothing, say yes! Never turn your nose up at hand-me-downs.~Marilyn, TFF


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