When families are strapped for cash, buying clothes for yourself and the kids is hard to do. While one easy way to save money is by purchasing used clothes from thrift stores, families who don't have even a few dollars to spare must look at ways to get clothes for free.
Having been a struggling, single mom myself years ago, I've learned that it is totally possible to get free clothes for your family. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Ask friends and family for hand-me-downs. An obvious first place to start is with your extended family and close friends. When my kids were small, I would let people know that we were in need of hand-me-downs and ended up getting at least one bag of (used) clothes every month. It didn't matter to me if the clothes were out of season, missing buttons, the wrong size or whatever -- since I knew how to sew, it was super simple to make repairs, hem pants, and resize the garments so they would fit properly. Letting your friends and relatives know that you need clothes for your family is the most basic way of getting clothes for free.
Trade. For items that my kids outgrew or freebie clothes from relatives that simply didn't work, I used to run them down to a consignment shop in hopes of trading them for something that we could use. Even though consignment shops are more fussy than ever in what they'll accept for trade, it's definitely worth doing if you have nice coats, like-new baby clothes, or designer duds to sell.
Volunteer at a church rummage sale. If you belong to a church that hosts rummage sales, it may be worth your time to volunteer. Our church (and others) often allow their volunteers to help themselves to clothes that didn't sell before boxing them up and shipping them off to the Goodwill. My teen daughter regularly finds all sorts of free clothes for herself simply by helping out during the sale. This is a fantastic way for a low income family to pick up piles of clothes at no cost.
Ask for clothing gift cards for birthdays. Instead of asking for something impractical for your birthday or Christmas, why not ask for clothing gift cards instead? My mother-in-law regularly gives me and my daughter gift cards to discount clothing stores such as the VF, Shopko, and Ross where a dollar goes unbelievably far.
Dress for Success. For women only, this non profit organization promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional clothes and a support network. For a woman needing clothes for an interview or the first day on the job, Dress for Success.org is definitely worth checking out.
Freecycle or Craigslist. If a person has free stuff to give away, both of these classified ad websites are where they'll post their ads. I've seen clothes listed on both of these sites on a regular basis; to snap up the freebies however, you've got to be quick.
Ask around for clothing vouchers. Charities that are partially funded by thrift store sales (such as Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, Junior League, Goodwill, etc) usually participate in a clothing voucher program for qualifying families in need. The vouchers are worth anywhere between $50-$100 and can be redeemed at the issuing charity's thrift store for everyday clothes. To learn who issues clothing vouchers in your area, ask at your favorite thrift store or check with the County Health and Welfare office.
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