Stocking Up on Clothes
Lots of people will buy winter clothes at the end of the season when they are sale, stocking up for the kids on the sizes they will probably be in next year.
In the book Who Gets the Drumstick? by Helen North Beardsley, Helen recounts the story of how she, a widow with 8 children, married Frank North, a widower with ten children. Together they had two more children.
Frank was a chief petty officer in the Navy, and he ran the combined household much like a small military barracks, which had its good and bad points. One of the innovations they made for their special family circumstances was to set up a sort of a clothes closet with all sizes of clothes, so that when the kids needed new clothes, instead of taking 20 kids shopping, Helen could simply check out the closet and supply the child with the next size up.
This level of stocking up might not be entirely practical for the average family, and I haven't resorted to this method much even for my larger than average family of 9. However, there is one area where I do stock up ahead, and that is unusual, or hard to find sizes or items. We haven't always done this, and that can be an expensive mistake.
My 14 year old still growing boy is currently comfortably wearing size 13 shoes. He is also an avid outdoorsman, and we have around 60 wooded acres with a creek (inherited from my family, who have lived in this area since they first homesteaded it in the early 1800s), so he has the outdoors literally at his doorstep. Waterproof boots are not a luxury item for him. Unfortunately, his waterproof boots got a hole in them mid-hunting season, as it happened, the same week he needed new dress shoes for a wedding he was in, the same week his toes poked through the ends of his only other pair of shoes, some tennis shoes. We did check thrift shops, but couldn't find anything in his size, so we had to bite the bullet and buy him two new pairs of shoes (he just had to live with the holey tennis shoes for a while longer). That hurt.
Now all of my Progeny, including the two married girls, have been asked to check the thrift shop for men's shoes in size 13 or up any time they go to a thrift shop. Those sizes are hard to find anyway, so it's worth it to me to buy them and store them until the Boy needs them.
We do the same for pants for him, as he is long legged but skinny (his sisters call his 28 waist, 36 inches almost isn't long enough inseam size "toothpick by stork"), and this is also hard to find. So whenever I find a pair of those pants at the thrift shop, I pick them up to have on hand. Formerly, it was boys' size 20s.
We also found that boys' sizes of jeans after about size 6 are harder to find in good condition at thrift stores, so we bought those whenever we found them.
A good source for new clothes for boys is Lands End, especially when you use their sales and take advantage of ebates.
If you sign up for ebates and go to Land's End via ebates, you can deduct another 6% for the rebate you'll get. Sometimes it's more. Currently, for instance, they also offer 30% off any single item.
Ebates has deals with other stores, such as JC Penny, Sears, Gap, Old Navy, and Areopostale as well, so you can look around for other good sales.
Another place I look for shoes and clothes for my hard to fit children is E-bay. That's the route we chose when we eventually replaced his poor mangled tennis shoes.
What are your strategies for keeping your family dressed frugally?
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