A Frugal Lifestyle: Used is good, but free is best!

When our first child, Bailey, was born Reed told me to be sure and save the outfits she outgrew so that they could be passed on to the next kid to come our way.

Me, being who I was then, replied that I wasn’t about to hand down anything.  Why,  it wouldn’t be fair to make the next baby wear used stuff.

Brilliant, no?

My, but how the not too bright have wised up.


A few months ago Reed came home with a HUGE bag filled with clothes that would be perfect for the 14 year old. I’m saving them for him for back to school next year.

Well, except for the two shirts that still had price tags on them. Those became part of this year’s Christmas booty.

Yup, you read that right. I wrapped up two, brand spanking new, hand me downs to give my son for a Christmas gift.

Was that a collective *gasp* I heard?

Get over it.

The rest of the country is.

The recession has opened up a whole new way of thinking:

Used is good.

But free is best.

I’ve shared my love for yard sales. I love bringing home my cheap scores. But, free, in the form of hand me downs rock. my. world.

And it’s not just my world doing the shaking.


There has been a change of thought that reflects a new attitude when it comes to conspicuous spending for kids.

No longer is it necessary to spend a fortune to prove how much you love your kid, or validate your parental skills.

Celebrated by groups such as The Compact, today’s economy has presented the perfect reason for any of us not to break the bank when raising our children.

(Actually, these days it’s not a good idea to break the bank for any reason.)

And when I say ‘us’, I mean all of us. Not just those of us trying to get out of debt or afford a medically fragile kid with special needs.

The glut of consumerism embraced in years past, is simply no longer hip. Rampant spending is no longer a symbol of how cool one is.

The nod of respect is now being given to resourcefulness, making do, and doing with less.

So hold your head high when you buy used and shop second hand.

And thank your lucky stars when someone loves you enough to gift you their hand me downs.

I know I will.

About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. Becky

    No Gasps here! I bought my daughter a used American Girl doll for Christmas on E Bay this year. Some creative wrapping and a few home-sewn(fabric re used from outgrown clothes) doll dresses thrown in for good measure and she was thrilled! I spent less than the price of one outfit from the catalog!!
    Heres to being frugal!!!!

  2. Becky says:

    You really are my hero Tammy! I want to be you when I grow up! :)

  3. One of the reasons I am glad I have all boys is that I can hand down clothing. Daniel gets some well worn and very loved clothing and I get a trip down memory lane every time I dress him.

  4. Emily says:

    LOVE cheap, but free is ALWAYS better! I live close to all my 6 siblings and we pass around clothes like none other! Works like a charm!

  5. We have one daughter – 3 years old – and all the clothes we’ve bought for her have been from yard sales, consignment shops, thrift stores or on the clearance rack. They grow out of them sooo fast at this age and I agree, consumerism has been a HUGE US problem…we live like kings compared to a lot of others in the this world and even within our US borders.

    I was inspired by something I saw on CBS Good Morning while getting ready for church – a family used their whole profit of the sale of their house and donated it to a charity – they wrote a book and it’s on my must read list – check it out: The Power of Half. Great message they are sending and great post of yours!

    Kudos! – catherine

  6. I love handing down clothes. And I love when people give me there hand me downs (in fact I am always a little surprised when people are scared they will insult me by asking). We don’t have a good goodwill here, but this year I found a wonderful consignment shop and all the kids have been clothed almost exclusively from there ever sense.

  7. We have a wonderful tradition in our neighborhood of handing down clothing. Princess gets clothes from a two-years-older girl down the street and we in turn pass them and any new clothes that Princess gets to another neighbor girl. The same goes for the boys. There have been seasons when I didn’t have to buy any clothes for the kids. Kids grow so fast that they rarely wear the clothes out. (Well, except for my 6 year old and the knees of his jeans!) We are also passing all of my 1 year old’s clothes to another mom who just had her 4th kid. I love to see the clothes go to someone I know.

  8. Free is AWESOME. I love freecycle, to give away the excess stuff we don’t need anymore, and also to get a few things that might be useful to us.

  9. LOVE IT. :) I never, ever turn away hand-me downs. We’ve gotten some of the best clothing through the generosity of others!

  10. Vivian says:

    I don’t know if they have done this up where you are, Tammy, but down here at our ladies’ church functions they have a “clothing swap” night. Everyone brings their clothing about to be donated to the thrift store and they’re sorted in bags by size (and we’re talking adult clothing, too). The clothing is put out on tables and everyone can rummage through and get what they need, whether they donated or not. The clothes left over were then taken to a family church party, where they were rummaged through again. Whatever was left went to the thrift store. It was GREAT!!!

  11. We love free clothes here too! We were recently blessed with a huge amount of hand me down clothes and I was shocked to see the price tags still on many of the items. It took me 3 days to go through the clothes and sort them by size and season, but I now have lots of clothes for all of my kids(for the next few years!) and I also have 17 bags of clothes that were too small for my crew that I will be taking to a battered women’s shelter tomorrow. Twice a year, I also shop at a huge local consignment sale….on the 50% off day :)

  12. I did the same thing! My sister in law scored us a crap ton of clothes from her neighbors. My brother got “new” jeans. Others got “new” clothes…’twas amazing! :)

  13. I LOVE hand me downs! I saved all of Baylee’s clothes so when I had another child (hopefully a girl) we would have clothes. Low and behold we had another girl and the sizes have almost worked out perfectly!

    Hugs – Tiffany

  14. I don’t know why this made me cry, but it did. I am vulnerable today, dealing with some bad news. Knowing that we passed on something that could be used by one we love just made my day. Seriously. What a lovely thought from you. Thank you so much. I needed this, especially today.

  15. i do the same thing as you did- wrap up the real goodies and put them away for gifts. i love cheap or new!!

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