Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cutting Back…..Clothing

Today my area of savings will be about clothing. I wrote about how we needed to drastically cut back our spending in Cutting Back till it Hurt also under the label A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned. I have learned a lot in the last few years about saving money, mostly by not spending it in the first place.  Clothing is an area where you can see huge savings if you shop right; sometimes just by not shopping at all. First of all, I don’t go shopping any more as a recreation. I go because I need to. It’s been 6 months at least since I’ve been to a mall.  I only go maybe once a year. I wrote about a funny experience I had, very embellished of course, that you can read at Warning! Junk Mail can be Dangerous! if you like. There’s no sense in spending your time in a place where you might spend money you don’t have to spend, on over priced things you don’t need. Then you won’t be feeling sorry for yourself over what you don’t have, or use all your free time thinking about how to get it. Really, don’t you have better things to do?

Most Americans could easily stop buying clothing for themselves and wear for years what they now have in their closets (if you don’t have growing children of course).  It would be 2 years after our deep 'budget cutting' before we purchased any clothing items for ourselves except 2 shirts and some slacks my husband’s job required him to have. Then when we did shop for clothing, it was at discount stores and only purchasing what was marked down.  I rarely spend more than $10 for a blouse or $12 for slacks. I like to wear good quality shoes, actually my feet demand that I do, and it’s hard to find shoes at a really low price.  I buy the better quality being careful to purchase what is most versatile with my wardrobe and careful not to purchase too many pairs. I also go to the big department stores because you can usually buy better quality there, but I only look at the racks that are deeply discounted. Better quality usually means it will last and look better longer. Most of the clothing that is sold at the big stores with low end pricing will not hold up to wear and tear or washings as it should.  I prefer to shop for better quality clothing and still I only pay a dollar or two more if I buy from the discounted racks. We never pay full price for clothing! End of season sales are great places to find bargains, my favorite time to shop. There is always a sale if you wait, and you usually can.
My husband has good luck finding clothing at yard sales which is the cheapest place you can purchase clothing.  Also thrift and second hand stores; they often have sales too.  Though I do look on occasion I don’t have as much luck finding my size or something I would wear and feel comfortable in that’s second hand. Usually I find that thrift and second hand stores charge too much.  I would rather buy new and pay a couple of dollars more, even if it means I can't buy as much. Not that I think there is anything wrong with second hand clothing. Yard sales are the best place to buy children’s clothing. If you can take the time needed to look through all that’s available you can find items with little wear. Since children out grow clothing usually before they wear it out, you can find things that have only been worn a few times, some not at all.

We think about clothing items we need before we shop for them, we don’t buy on impulse. However, if in the summer time we find a winter clothing item that we know we will need next winter we will get it if the following applies. It needs to fit right, be a style and color that we like. Don't buy anything that doesn't fit right now.  You know the "I'm on a diet so this will fit soon" line that we tell ourselves? I had way too many of those clothing pieces in the back of my closet.  If you are on a diet it's best to wait until you are the smaller size before you buy.  Our body shapes change and you may not look as good as you had hoped in that great dress in the too small size you bought before you lost the weight.  Or like me, never reached my target weight so the clothing was never worn by me at all. There is no point in buying an item that we don’t really like even if it’s functional and meets our needs because we won’t wear it if we don’t like it. My rule for buying used clothing is that it has to look new. There’s no point in buying clothing items that are showing their age, I have a closet full of those already.  I won’t bother with buying clothing that needs altering, mending or has a stain even if I think I can fix it. Unless it's free, I have better things to do with my time.

When I was a child everyone had play clothes, school clothes and special occasion clothing. You wore what was appropriate for what you were doing. As soon as you got home from school, you changed into play clothes. Clothing lasts much longer this way, it's something I still do; rotating my clothing.  When something is new, I am more careful with it and only wear it when I leave the house, or to work.  Once it is no longer 'fresh' looking, or passed it's prime, it becomes my wear at home clothing. I change into wear at home clothing as soon as I'm home again. I don't by new lounge wear to wear at home and I now actually wear my clothes out.  My grand daughter pointed to a blouse I was wearing one day and said, "hey gramma, you are wearing that same shirt in this picture". I was indeed; a picture of me on vacation in a blouse that had become my wear only at home clothing.  It is thread bare now as it was a favorite. I bought it back when I didn't worry about cost as much and good quality, I have worn it for 5 yrs now and this summer will be it's last. 

One of the best things you can do for yourself and your budget is to learn to hand sew and mend your clothing, and darn your socks. You will get so much more wear from your clothing if you will keep them mended. There are tutorials all over the internet and on You Tube.  Do a search for what you want to know about mending and I’m sure you will find it. You will not need to visit alteration shops anymore. You can do some creative camouflaging to cover up stains or tears like adding patches or embroidery to extend the life of your clothing. Check out Creative Mending over at for some really great ideas.
We buy less clothing now, we live in a smaller place and closet space is also smaller. It can be hard sometimes to keep our closets from becoming over crowded. One way to do this is to remove and get rid of an item when you purchase a new item. How many blouses do you need? Pants and skirts? Shoes? Can you make do with 5 pair, 10 or 20?  Cut back on amounts until you get to a place that feels comfortable and try to stay there. It will be hard at first but it will be easy once you get used to it. Having less clothing than we use to have also means we have less stuff to manage and care for.  Our closets stay neater and more organized.  We can dress faster; there are not too many choices to make. We don’t have items hidden in the back that we eventually throw out because we simply don’t want them any more even though they are practically new. We are not being wasteful with our money by having more than we need, overcrowding our space, stressing getting ready to go somewhere, thus we are more peaceful and relaxed.  See how this works? We have what we need, and that’s all we need.


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