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Friday, March 8, 2013

Handling Hand-Me-downs

"Hi Meredith! I have another bag of clothes for your boys. I will drop them off today after work." I can't tell you how many times I have had a call, email, or text such as this. I get so excited about them. Hand-me-downs mean money I don't have to spend. Being the cheap thrifty person I am, I am always thrilled by the generosity of others. Toys, clothes, furniture, it doesn't matter, I will gladly take it all.

The problem with this, is once you start taking items, it is very hard to stop.  I was getting overwhelmed by it, and couldn't keep up with the constant stream of goodies coming to us.  Honestly, at one point we had three sofa's in our 300 square foot living room.  All of which were hand-me-downs from either friends or family.  (That doesn't include the two others that were down in our basement during the same time period.)

I knew that I was going to have to try something different. For awhile I started to turn them away all together.  My dilemma was that every time I said no, I felt as though I had just burned money. Eventually I found something that worked for us.  Here are three steps I worked out after years of struggling with how to handle all the hand-me-downs.

  1. Be Selective - You don't have to say yes to everything. Be selective with what you take. Homeschooling books that are from a publisher you don't use, "no thanks". Clothes for the girls, "yes please". 
  2. Sort it right away - As soon as the items come into the house, go through them. Anything I can't or won't use goes either back to the giver or donated elsewhere. There is no point in having it cluttering up your home.
  3. Put it away - Once you have sorted it, put it away. Don't shove it back in the bags to sit in a closet or attic and be forgotten. Either put it into labeled bins to store for later use, or put right into the drawers or closet. If you don't have enough room for everything, you are keeping too much. Sort again and anything you aren't sure you will use, you probably won't, so just get rid of it.

This sounds so simple that it seems like it should be obvious, but for me it just wasn't.  I am sure others struggle with this too, so I hope my struggle provides some solutions for you.  How do you handle hand-me-downs? If you have a useful tip, please share them!
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  1. These tips are great. It is always hard for me to say "no thank you".

    1. Thank you Jennifer. I have a hard time with it as well. I have come a long way with it though, and my kids are getting much better at picking out what they will and won't wear so I am not agonizing over that anymore. :) Have a great day!


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