Affording Clothes

We clothe our family of 11 for $25 a month. We have done it for this or less since we have been married. Now lest you think that our children run around in rags, we have gotten compliments from near strangers about how we must spend a fortune on dressing our children in such cute outfits all the time. We just laugh and know that God provides. We believe that our clothes communicate to the world around us, so we try to clothe our children with things that are stylish (not necessarily trendy), modest, tidy and clean. (Unless they are playing in the backyard.)

So you may wonder how we clothe 11 people for about the price of a pair of jeans. (You can still get a pair of jeans for around $20, right?) Simply put, it is God’s provision for us. There are several ways that He has provided for us in this area. One year when I was switching out the seasons I realized that we had no clothing for our oldest, Amber. Mark and I prayed and the next day, literally the next day we were given two big bags of clothing for Amber. The clothes continued to pour in throughout that week until she had more than she could use. We make it a habit to pray for our needs and the Lord has been faithful to provide for us. (Luke 6:38 and Mal. 3:10)

The vast majority of our children’s clothes are given to them via hand-me-downs. It is another way that God has graciously met our needs. We often receive more hand-me-downs than our children can wear. We have benefited from hand-me-downs from friends at church, co-workers, receptionists at our dentists office. We have even had friends of friends ship us boxes of clothing.

We have had people buy clothing for our children. It is amazing to me, but in both the churches where we have been members we have had women who enjoy shopping at second hand shops who have bought clothes for our children. Oh, and the adorable matching dresses that our girls are wearing in this picture? They were a surprise, made for them by a precious, talented lady in our church.

Another way that God has provided clothing for our family is through yard sales. Whenever I leave the house to go yard sale shopping I pray that I will be wise with our money and ask God for any specific items I’m looking for. I recall clearly telling Mark before I left the house one Saturday, that I needed a couple maternity shirts (am I the only one who outgrows maternity clothing at the end of a pregnancy?) and that if I didn’t find any at the yard sales then I would head over to Target and pick up one or two. At my very first stop that morning they had a clothesline full of maternity clothes in my size priced at $.50 each.

This past Saturday I had a specific list of items that we needed for summer. For $2 I purchased 2 pairs of capri’s 4 shorts and 5 tops in the sizes that I needed and all in like-new condition. (I did tell you that I’m a clothes n*zi, right? Our children only have 8 outfits at a time, so I like the clothes that they do have to be in nice condition, at least to begin with.)

We rarely shop at consignment shops simply because the prices are a lot higher than at yard sales, but have been blessed with a multitude in the area which are a great resource if we need something specific that I haven’t been able to find at yard sales.

Waiting on the Lord to provide clothing for our large family. That Works for Me!

You may read more clothes or laundry management posts or search my categories for lots more money saving ideas and even some humor.

Read my other WFMW posts or head over to We Are THAT Family for more.

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19 Responses to Affording Clothes
  1. Cardamom's Pod
    May 6, 2009 | 7:33 am

    Great post! I need to start heading to yard sales more often, although it’s usually quite a drive for me to get to them… I’m convinced my children think clothing comes from garbage bags! Someone will ask them where they got a cute new outfit, and they’ll say, “Oh, a grab bag!” We are blessed with a lot of large family friends who send bags back and forth regularly. There’s been several times that I’ve seen an outfit come back to me a few YEARS after I gave it away! Other times God has provided specific things I’ve simply thought of, not even prayed for yet – belts, jackets, slim jeans – or even those unnecessary but “wouldn’t it be nice if…” things. He is so faithful!

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  2. Jamie
    May 6, 2009 | 9:06 am

    We don’t spend much on clothes either. LOTS of hand me downs. I am blessed that my sister’s youngest daughter is two years older than our oldest. We get all her good “school clothes” as she grows. It’s been a huge blessing! Of course, our little ones do get brand new outfits periodically. Just not from Chris and I! It’s those grandmas and single adult aunts at birthday time. Kimberly, I’ve been told, though, that hand me downs and consignment shopping for boys is much harder than for girls. Something about boys wearing their clothes out before they grow out of them! Do you find this to be true? We also do consignment shopping. Every few months, St. Vinny’s has a half off sale on children’s clothing. I go and get caught up on those things that have worn out. I am looking forward to hitting yard sales soon! And one more thing: I grow out of my maternity clothes, too. Not sure why :).

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    Kimberly Reply:

    Jamie,
    I do think that finding nice boys pants at Salvation Army or other such shop is more difficult. If I see a nice pair of boys jeans or other pants at a yard sale for $.50 or less I usually purchase them, regardless of size. We’ve never run out of boys pants.

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  3. bunny
    May 6, 2009 | 9:19 am

    Perfect place to leave you a Happy Birthday! Your grandfather would be so proud of you and these stories. As he raised the 10 of us with so little money and God always provided!

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  4. Becky
    May 6, 2009 | 9:40 am

    We too don’t spend too much on clothing for our family, although we don’t do yardsales. (We spend our Saturdays working in our yard so we don’t have to pay for someone else to do it!) Instead, along with the hand-me-downs, we watch for sales and search clearance racks. That’s what works for us. And you’re absolutely right that they main key is relying on the Lord.

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  5. Natalie@Naddy's Blog
    May 6, 2009 | 10:50 am

    We only have 2 little ones so far, but I have been amazed at how little we’ve had to spend on clothing for them. From the abundant baby gifts, most of which were clothes, to the hand me downs I’ve been given, we’ve had only a few “holes” we’ve had to fill to clothe them so far!

    Hand me downs rock! 🙂

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  6. Tracey
    May 6, 2009 | 11:20 am

    So wonderful to read your post! God truly does provide. I have two girls, so am able to hand down most of my older daughter’s clothes to the younger one. I also shop yard sales and thrift stores and occasionally receive hand-me-downs from a friend. I can’t imagine paying full-price for little girl clothes! I am very excited that my sister is expecting her first baby, so I’m going to use some of my shopping time to find nice clothing inexpensively for her new little one!

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  7. Smockity Frocks
    May 6, 2009 | 11:48 am

    Great tips, Kimberly! We do the same things.

    Here’s a funny: Just the other day, I had a mom of 3 giving me advice about buying children’s clothes at a fancy resale shop. She said she spends *only* $300/year on clothes for her 3 children! I actually gasped out loud, but the funny thing is, she thought I was impressed with her thriftiness!

    Another funny thing about hand me downs: Our 5 year old is the best dressed girl in town! Somehow, she has ended up with the lion’s share this year! I have even stored some barely worn size 5 girl clothes for the little girls coming behind her.

    The 14 yr. old is the one who really needs clothes most often. We often get bags of clothes that we pass on. The “teen fashions” are just too, too skimpy! (I’m not a fan of tank tops as outerwear.)

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  8. Amy
    May 6, 2009 | 11:59 am

    The best part of the yard sale shopping is that you are supporting another family directly and you are recycling! Great post.

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  9. Christy Klein
    May 6, 2009 | 12:48 pm

    Yes, clothes are indeed expensive! These are really great tips. I LOVE my local thrift store! I’ve found tons of great items for me and the kids there. I have also been able to purchase Bonnie Jean dresses for church on ebay for a small fraction of the cost.

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  10. wanda
    May 7, 2009 | 9:16 am

    This is great! I love to share my kids things too. We have been able to bless and be blessed by someone sharing with us.
    I think you guys look great!

    God does provide! Jehovah Jireh!

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  11. Joy
    May 8, 2009 | 12:24 am

    God most definitely always provides!

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  12. Angela
    May 19, 2009 | 12:27 pm

    QUestion, Where is a local place you can get afordable maturnity and infant clothes. I found a good bit on Craigslist at good prices. For the baby clothes though, they are usually sold boy/gurl spaciffic. I am looking for tans, browns, creams, whites, greens and yellows in baby clothes. (hopefully with monkeys or bears if I can find it.) I have tried the goodwill to no avail, same with HFH. I also tried Nearly New, but they where a lil pricy for me. (REALLY nice stuff, just pricy) Other than yardsales, do you have any local suggestions? (Local to you or me either one.) THanks gurl! Huggs!
    –Angela

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  13. Nicki
    June 24, 2009 | 12:48 pm

    We love hand-me-downs, too! My oldest daughter is the one who usually gets the short end of the stick, but the rest of the kids have tons of clothes! I like the 8 outfits idea! I have a good friend with 5 boys and a sister with 2 boys, all older than my boys, so we get great bags full of clothes. I sort them by size and store them in rubbermaid tubs. I also have a tub of boy’s shoes, ready and waiting!

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  14. JenT
    June 27, 2009 | 4:51 pm

    Not sure if you’ll get this comment since it’s later. We also get a lot of clothes at Goodwill. I try to wait until the last weekend of the month when everything is 50% off. Pretty much all of the Goodwills around here are that way. I didn’t go today, but there is one open tomorrow that I might can get to. Plus it has tons of kids clothes. I mean tons. I can get nice shirts and pants for the boys for about $1 or $1.50 and shirts for the girls for the same. I make the girls jumpers and culottes so that’s easy there. I just wait for fabric to go on sale at Joann, Etc. then stock up.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Jen T, I also like to visit the Goodwill on half price weekend. However the ones I visit often don’t have a good selection of children’s things. Maybe I should shop some different thrift stores.

    Blessings,
    Kimberly

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  15. katy
    March 31, 2010 | 5:50 pm

    I am an avid sewer and if I find an outfit or piece that is just the wrong size at the right price I can usually do a remake…I also salvage buttons etc from other articles.

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  16. KC
    November 23, 2011 | 11:40 am

    I have 3 other female cousins older than I am and one younger than me. When we had family gatherings, we’d bring all the too-small clothing and ship it down to the next kid in line. It worked and most of us loved pouring over those clothes, searching for the things we liked. And some of the clothing had come from other people so at least 5 children wore them! I’ve since grown up, or, at least, stopped growing so I still wear some of that clothing!

    And if we didn’t fit into it or my little cousin didn’t want it, it was shipped to my other cousin on my mom’s side!

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  17. jul
    April 12, 2012 | 3:07 pm

    hmm… maybe a little late to comment, but here goes. i found it funny that you mention your kids have only 8 outfits, as that was my arbitrary number too.

    question: how do you get to the garage sales and know where to go? i have found that i cannot get out much to do shopping, and the times i’ve tried, i’ve really come up dry. in the past, i’ve had hand-me-downs, and a big consignment sale for each season. since we’ve moved, that’s not available. so now, i’ve been shopping at a higher end store usually paying only 25% of cost between clearance and coupons. but i still spend a far cry more than $.25 a piece. it seems like it’s time for me to figure out how to do this better – our family has grown, and food prices are higher, and they’re eating more 🙂 any more advice or thoughts how you do this? do you take all the kids with you? do you map it out and hit all the sales? do you drive by or get out at each one? do you go every week? it seems that either pregnancy nausea, third trimester aches, or a newborn keep me always feeling like i can’t function up to par…

    thanks for the post!

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