Today’s creative money-saving idea comes from Jennifer Byars. If you have a money-saving idea to share, you are welcome to submit a guest post (you don’t have to be a blogger). See the guest post submission guidelines for details.
I have been told that we are only as frugal as our organizational skills.
I am frugal but, admittedly, very unorganized. I am a busy mom always trying to find ways to make life easier and save money.
I have a solution for organizing my children’s clothes for people, like me, that are lacking organizational skills.
Let me explain my need for an urgent solution.
I get lots of children’s clothes and accessories from yard sales, thrift stores, and friends. We also have lots of hand-me-downs. This should have saved me a lot of money.
However, I was so unorganized and forgetful that I would misplace things. My kids would outgrow new clothes before ever getting to use them.
The money I saved by getting a good deal was lost since my kids never wore the clothes.
It was also heartbreaking to score the perfect outfit for pennies at a yard sale only to discover it at the bottom of a clothes bin a year after it would have fit.
I had to fix this problem!
I am a very visual person. I realized that if I buy clothes that are a size bigger and put them out of sight, then they are quickly out of mind. I had to come up with a way that the clothes stay in plain sight at all sizes.
First, I had my husband install long rods in a walk-in closet that most families would use for a utility closet.
I have my youngest girl’s clothes on a taller rod since she needs help picking out matching clothes. My older daughter’s are on the bottom where she can choose, and reach, her own clothing.
At the beginning are all the clothes the kids can currently wear. Next are the clothes they can still wear but are out of season. I live in the Southern United States where the temperature changes quickly. We are in shorts one day and jackets the next so I like having everything accessible.
Now here is the best part!
The next section is the size your child is growing into. When you see something at a thrift store that super cute, but too big, you can grab it. Hang it in this section so you won’t forget about it.
I buy things 2, 3, and 4 sizes too big then add them in sections on the rack according to size. I don’t have mine labeled but I have a coat hanger turned backwards between each section so I know where each size ends.
It sounds simple, but it works! I never lose clothes anymore! My kids always have a row of clothes they are growing into and it feels so good to be ahead of the game. There is never an urgent need for clothes. I can quickly inventory what each child is lacking before I hit up the thrift store or go to garage sales.
The Closet Swap
In the past, like most people, I kept everything in separate closets in the kid’s individual rooms. They were constantly getting pulled off the hangers or out of the drawers. I never knew what was clean and what was dirty. Plus I had to go upstairs every time I wanted to inventory their wardrobe or help them with clothes, which was several times a day.
Now, with the big clothes closet, conveniently located next to the washer and dryer, I have one place for everything my kids need, including undergarments, coats, shoes, accessories, backpacks, hats, belts, and purses. It has rods long enough that I can hang new-to-them winter coats in bigger sizes and backpacks that I got on clearance for the next school year.
I have utilized every inch of the space in that closet. The tiny space near the ceiling is where I store the kid-sized blankets, throws, and beach towels. I have hand-me-down clothes for my younger daughter neatly stacked, by size, and labeled at eye level on a shelf.
Special outfits that I want to make sure I don’t miss are hanging in the appropriate section on the rack. Play clothes and sleepwear go in a labeled bin on a bottom shelf so the kids can get those themselves.
I have added shelving to store things like purses, Santa hats, and swimsuits with labels that the kids can easily read. Having seasonal items (like Santa hats) in plain sight where they’re easy to find means we won’t have to go out and buy those same items each year.
So what about all of the space in the bedroom closets? I store infrequently used items such like holiday decor and luggage in the kids’ closets. It works out great!
How can this work for you?
We all have different living situations so I know this exact idea won’t work the same way for everyone, though I think a variation of the idea can be implemented in most homes.
You don’t have to buy an expensive closet system. You could simply install a curtain rod on brackets.
Maybe you don’t have a walk-in closet to spare but you do have a small room, or even half a room, in your home that could be rearranged to use as closet space.
Or, you can use your kid’s closet and add some extra curtain rods.
Maybe you can’t buy bins for storage but you have extra clothes baskets or a spare chest of drawers that you could label. The plastic bins that I use for my closet were originally made for bulk produce in grocery stores. I just washed them well and painted labels on them with craft paints.
My dream house would have one room in the center that has a washer and dryer in it. That room would be the closet the whole family uses. We would store our clothes, towels, and sheets in one place and just take what we need.
More closet ideas?
I am so glad to get this opportunity to share my closet idea. I wish I would have figured this out sooner because I wasted so much money over the years.
I hope this helps you gather ideas that will work best for your family. If you have anything to add that might help me take my closet plan up a notch please leave it in the comments. Busy families need to stick together!
Jennifer is a mom and registered nurse from Tupelo, Mississippi. She helps run a small business with her awesome husband. She’s always looking for deals and ways to make life easier.
This is an excellent idea! I too am guilty of all of a sudden finding things that my kids never wore, but are already too small. It’s such a waste.
Your idea has me thinking that a shared closet may be the solution to another problem we are having here. We have a son who is three, and a daughter who is two…she wears a lot of his gender-neutral hand me downs, and as they get closer in size it’s becoming harder and harder to remember which clothes belong to which one – especially things like khaki shorts etc. My husband is always putting stuff in the wrong room. A shared closet may be the solution!
Julie- Happy, Frugal Mama says
We live in a small house with small rooms and few closets or else this idea sounds amazing! What I do instead of use unused dresser drawers. Both my kids have 2 drawers in their dresses they don’t use. I put the next size up in these drawers. I live in Maine. Yesterday was 90 and muggy, two days from now is calling for a high of 58. “Out of season” isn’t really a thing here other than snow gear so don’t have to store that category. haha!
In the basement is a tote clearly marked “kid clothes to grow into.” Inside the tote, the biggest size is in the bottom with a flattened shopping bag over it and a piece of printer paper on top of that with the size. Then goes to next size up, etc. The separated and labeled layers really help. It really helps that I have two girls so I don’t have to separate by gender too.
Sort of like Amy’s method above, I think I remember in The Tightwad Gazette that Amy Dacyczyn labeled boxes for gender and range of sizes for her six kids, and kept a spread sheet of what was in the boxes. She had her boxes in an attic, I think. One could put boxes under the bed if a closet, dry basement or attic aren’t available. I think Jennifer’s solution is best if one has the space and if the kids’ bedrooms aren’t on the lower floor of the house. If they are, I think just doing the same thing in their closets would suffice. This is a good idea, to always have the “up and coming” clothes at the ready when the current ones get too small.
Yes, doing the same thing in the kids closets can work in a similar way. I am a big fan of Amy D. She seems to be ultra tidy and organized…I am not. I am also quite forgetful. I have had bigger sizes of clothes in bins with big labels on the sides. Since I can’t see everything in there, I would forget about them. I even tried putting nicer clothes in separate bins from the general hand-me-downs. They would still become camouflaged by other closet items. I would try to keep the kids closets organized only to come back and find nicer clothes crunched in the closet floor. My system allows me to frequently reassess without much hassle or effort. When I tried a spreadsheet years ago, I found that I would forget that a pair of pants got lost at a sleepover or too stained to wear so it never stayed updated. I do keep a running list on my phone of things the kids are in need of after each closet inventory.
This is brilliant! If only my home had a closet like this. Instead I keep the larger sizes in vacuum bags in the attic, but “out of mind” means I end up buying more than I need.
I love the spreadsheet idea too. Next time I do a seasonal changeover I think I’ll take some time to enter it all into a spreadsheet.
I love the spreadsheet idea, too, but it won’t work for me. I tried something similar when my oldest daughter was younger and failed miserably. This plan works for me because I am unorganized and it takes little effort to maintain.
I’m not sure I’m organised enough to keep it updated either, but unfortunately out closets are teeny.
I started buying clothing at the end of the season clearance sales, garage sales, and thrift stores when I was pregnant with my oldest child 18 years ago. I kept a spreadsheet with what we had in what sizes, what numbered box the items were in and the box location. I now catalog our out of season clothes, homeschool supplies, business supplies, and seasonal decorations in a similar manner with the spreadsheet saved as a Google Doc to make access and sharing easier.
Wow Amy! That is incredibly organized!
I’ve lived 27 places in my 38 years of life, nine of them in the past decade. I like to keep things organized for the next move. The spreadsheet helps me find the things we need without having to unpack every single thing every time we move.
Can you put up a picture of the closet? it would really help.
[email protected] says
That’s what I was going to ask too!
I asked Jennifer for a picture, but she wasn’t able to get a good photo that communicated the idea. Sorry!
I did try to take pictures of my closet but they didn’t translate very well. Basically, it just looked like a regular closet with two longish rows of kids clothes.
I hope I was detailed enough to get the idea across.