Saturday, July 31, 2010

Clothing a Large Family

Here, on Saturdays, I am addressing the practical side of raising a large family.  We will share how we manage our home with 8 and soon to be 9 children.  These are things I wish I would have known when I was struggling to adjust to large quantity everything, or, at about child # 5. This week, I am sharing how we clothe our family on a small budget.
I often get asked, “How on earth do you  provide for your 8 children?”  
The answer is simple, we rarely buy anything new.
  Most of our clothing and housewares come from thrift shopping or yard sales. 
We happily give and receive presents that were bought second hand,
and most importantly, we have a system.

I have learned that it is less expensive to buy clothing when you find it,
not when you need it. 
If I see a nice piece of clothing for under .99 cents, I will likely buy it. 
This month, I bought Bethany two dresses in a size 8.  She is wearing a 5 now. 
They were beautiful dresses.  One I paid $1.99, the other was .99.

I don't just buy randomly.
I have Rubbermaid totes for every size newborn to adult sm, boy and girl, 
as well as boy shoes and girl shoes, coats, snow suits, 
gloves and hats, rubber boots and snow boots. 
Every box is nearly full.  When the seasons change, we go shopping in the Rubbermaid boxes.
 The critical component to my system is that every box has been inventoried,
with the inventory list kept in my daily organizer, which I call “my brain.” 
So I know that I have nearly no clothes for Bethany in size 10, but am getting a good assortment in 7/8.  I also know that I do not have snow boots in a size 5 or 7.

We live so far out in the country, that I don’t get to a lot of yard sales, may be two or three a year.
I do have my favorite thrift stores which I go hunting in once a month with my clothing budget. 
We spend an average of $100 per person, per year on clothes.
Below are some things for the wee one I bought for .75 cents each.


I always pray over my shopping list when we go to town. 
This month, my husband really needed jeans.  He is tall, so it is rare to find something in his size.  When I checked the men’s section for the needed items, 
there was not one pair of jeans in nice shape, but two!
  God had blessed.  We went on to find 5 dress shirts, also on his list, for .99 a piece. 
On our way to town we discussed getting his wing tips re- soled.  He has had them since college.  But, there in the shoe section was a nice pair of leather wing tips in his size for .99, 
the special marked down tag of the day.

Buying off season is usually the way to get the cheapest  clothes. 
I buy whatever I can find in my price range regardless of season or size,
as long as it fills a need on the inventory list. 
I am looking for the good deals, so I check all the racks in the sizes I have needs in. 
This does take time.  I spend all day at it, usually with my husband, who enjoys watching me hunt, and is delighted with our frugal approach.

My goal is to not accumulate more clothes than we need,
and keep my family in nice looking, well made classic clothes. 
For example, the particulars I aim for with the boys for winter are 10 long sleeve shirts, 
two Sunday best pants, two nice jeans,  3 warm pj’s, one good sweater, 2 pairs wool socks,
a 3 in 1 coat, snow pants, snow boots, slippers, and a play/chore coat.

Since we do sew, I also keep an eye out for usable fabric that we might sew up to fill a need.
I just snatched up 2 yards of girly fleece at a yard sale for .75 cents, 
with the intentions of creating a snug nightgown for Bethany next year.
(she has plenty of good warm jammies this year).  

By purchasing our clothing  this way, I spend far less than the average family,
but end up just as well dressed, and have fun enjoying the hunt to boot. 
My responsibility, as manager of the home, I feel, is to be a good steward of what God has given us, endeavoring to “look well to the ways of my household” by doing my best to meet the needs of our family without being excessive in my shopping or overspending my budget.
The children are very aware of how God provides good clothing for them
at low prices or even  free. 

We all thank the Lord together for the way that he blesses us each shopping trip. 
We know he cares about the little things I our lives,
because we trust Him and give credit to Him for all our provisions.


  1. I just want to know if you keep and save any clothes from the olders for the youngers? I have four sons, so far, and struggle with how many bins of clothes I have in the house, but don't want to get rid of things I may still need one day. Do you just save those clothes that are still in great shape for the youngers, and get rid of what is not and then plan to find nicer ones that might be needed at thrift stores later? This has been one of my biggest "simplifying" struggles. Not knowing when and who the Lord might bless us with next, and not knowing what to save and how much. Thank you for your blog, Julianne
    Blessings to you,

  2. I don't keep ripped jeans or stained shirts, but pretty much everything else stays/ Socks and under wear never seem to last, but some shoes do. Anything that is still in good shape is a keeper for me. Sometimes i have a summer bin and a winter bin, like for 18 mo, they seem to stay in that size for a really long time. Sometimes simplifying means keeping stuff. It is much more simple and economical, a better use of my time and energy, to get clothes from a bin than to re purchase.


Your comments and input are very much appreciate
- Blessings!

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