Clothing Cooperatives Create New Kids' Wardrobe
by Tammy Harrison
Clothing Kids Close to Free
Saving on Children's Clothing
My Story: Extending the Life of Kids' Clothing
As a home-based working mom, I have chosen to sacrifice any career plans I envisioned in power suits, before having children, for a sweats and pink fuzzy slipper existence. I work full time for both my family and my businesses and often find myself wondering how my kids can be so irresponsible as to rip a hole in their new jeans the day after we bought them. Or run through a mud puddle with the $30 tennis shoes that Grandma sent. Or even wear three sets of clothes in one day and send them down the laundry shute after only wearing them an hour. I decided I didn't necessarily want to take all of the fun out of being a kid so I began looking in other directions for an answer to the insanity.
With a little ingenuity, I formed a clothing cooperative in my neighborhood and with my church community. I didn't quit buying our children clothes but I did quit spending so much money on cheaply constructed attire that got worn for a month and then was ready for the rag pile.
The first thing I did was to make a list of my needs, as follows:
- Play clothes
- Church clothes
My next step was to approach people who had children older or larger than my own to see if they were interested in forming a clothing exchange. We all agreed that we would not purchase inferior products and we would each allocate a clothing allowance every six months to replenish our closets. Once the ground rules were established, the cooperative was off and running.
We get together for a clothing swap and play group session once a month. All of my baby clothes go to the next in line and I receive an array of replacements from the baby down the street. We have a large used clothing store in town and once every six months it is my turn to walk the aisles and pick up clothes that any child in our cooperative can wear. That way, each of us adds inventory to our coffers. Usually, the members of the cooperative try to purchase good used clothing for the oldest or largest members of the group-whereby ensuring a hand-me-down in the near future!
In addition to just swapping clothes during our monthly get-together, we also take the time to process our worn out tatters and by cutting them up for use in braided rag rugs, cleaning bags and quilts. When we have enough scraps to make a rug or a quilt, we make it and give it to a member of our cooperative.
The only problem I've encountered is that my daughter is next in line to a little boy who likes to climb trees! Sometimes we find that none of the clothes he has outgrown are suitable for another child to wear. When that happens repeatedly over a period of time, we have to remind the boy's mother that in order to belong to the cooperative she has to pass on quality clothes. If her son ruins the clothes then she is responsible for extra replacements beyond the once every six month shopping spree.
Clothing cooperatives have saved me from near kids-clothes-induced-poverty and have given my children variety and good clothes to wear. It has also strengthened my relationship in my community and given me a nice warm blanket and a rug to wipe my shoes on when I come in the door!
Take the Next Step
- It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.
- Find new ways to reduce the family budget each week on our page dedicated to frugal families like yours.
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
More Money-Saving Tips for Families
- Snap up these 9 deals in August
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- How your family can make a difference on $5 or less
- The perks of part-time work
- Modeling impulse control for your children
- Business ideas for kids
- This week's Readers' Tips