Thursday, July 17, 2008

Handling Hand-Me-Downs

I have become an enormous fan of hand-me-downs. We have been incredibly blessed in this area, with everything from clothes for the children, my husband and myself, kitchen appliances and baby gear. In turn, we have made every effort to pass along our own hand-me-downs to whomever we can. This includes a revolving cycle between my sister and myself: I have the oldest girl, then her daughter, than her other daughter, than my two youngest. So, all of our girl clothes get handed down in that order.

I remember reading once that you should never say no to hand-me-downs of any kind because than the offering person may feel like you no longer need hand-me-downs and not offer them to you again. (I believe it was in The Tightwad Gazette, but I'm not sure.) First of all, I don't view hand-me-downs as a need issue. For some it may be, but I also think hand-me-downs make a lot of frugal and ecological sense, even for those who don't necessarily "need" the help.

Secondly, I do agree with this statement. However, I think, in the honor of integrity,that it is important to offer options to the giver. And if done in the right and considerate way, I do not believe there is any reason why this person would stop offering you their hand-me-downs.

For example, we were recently offered some kid's winter jackets. We already have plenty of winter jackets for the kids though (due to other hand-me-downs) and there is NO reason why each child would need 4 or 5 winter jackets. So, instead of just taking them, or just saying "no thank you," we politely explained to the giver that we did not currently have a need for them and asked if they knew some one else they would like to offer the jackets to. We also told them that if they didn't know someone else, we'd be happy to take the jackets and pass them along to someone else who could use them. We were told to keep the jackets and do what we wanted with them, whether saving them for another child or passing them along.

My husband and I both feel this honesty is a very important step in the hand-me-down process. We need to respect the hand-me-down giver and not just take what is being offered so that they continue to give us more stuff. In the end, it's a win-win situation for both parties.

We have also developed a pretty good system when it comes to the hand-me-downs we receive. Sometimes we are given bags of clothes that span a variety of age ranges. So we sort through everything, donate or pass on to some one else any extras, and box up whatever can not be used at the moment. Our attic currently has boxes of girls clothes from newborn to size 10. We have decided that keeping these clothes (and certain other hand-me-downs) is a priority, so sometimes that means we have to get rid of things that are taking up storage space. But, a box of clothes is more important than a box full of decorations that have not seen the light of day in three years.

We truly do cherish all of the hand-me-downs that we receive, just as we cherish being able to bless someone else with our hand-me-downs. I view them as of top importance in leading a frugal lifestyle.

For more Frugal Friday tips and ideas, don't forget to visit Crystal's blog.


Sonshine 10:23 PM  

I love hand me downs!!

I handle the "too many" hand me downs the same as you. I always ask the giver if they want anything back or if they would just like me to find a new home for the clothes that I don't need.

Thanks for sharing!

Cajunchic 10:40 PM  

We love hand me downs also. We only had to buy dress clothes for Monkey until recently because an older cousin always gave him his hand me downs sometimes they even had the tags still on them.

BarbaraLee 11:44 PM  

We have gotten into this habit also. A lot of times we send them to our local battered womens shelter.

Brooke 9:41 AM  

my sister was very wise in not finding out the sexy of either baby. her first was a girl, and now she's able to use all of the Princess's newborn stuff with the Little Man.

The Princess told me this past weekend that they were boxing up her clothing (to pass along to another soon to be mom) and she said that she left a swimsuit with flowers on it so that if I ever had a little girl the Princess could give it to her. :) Only 4 and she already knows the value of giving to others.

Laura 10:19 AM  

Our attic sounds like your attic (except ours is full of BOY clothes)! We have boxes of all sizes up there, which has been SUCH a blessing as the boys grow. I love it that people know we'll accept hand me downs and keep sharing them with us. It has been such a blessing.

Michele 7:02 PM  

I love hand-me-downs! :) We actually just "handed down" some baby girl clothes about a month ago. That was tough. I knew I needed to give them to someone that needed them. I was just sad that we didn't have another little one to need them. However, the joy I felt in the end was worth it. God knows the future, and He will always provide. :)


Anonymous,  1:30 PM  

We're big fans of hand me downs, too. And, we tell the givers what you do if we don't need the items.

Margery 8:00 AM  

I do find that keeping hand-me-downs organized is very important. I generally have a plastic storage bin for each size, 4T, 5T, etc., and label the fronts with a sharpie on a piece of painter's tape. I find that the painter's tape peels off the plastic surface easily, ready to relabel when the children grow, and we no longer need the smaller sizes.

Also, if I don't know someone who needs one of my outgrown sizes, or if I have too much of something, I will consign these items, and whatever doesn't sell goes to charity. You can get a tax credit for donated items, too!!!

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