Being frugal is not something than comes naturally to me. In fact, up until January 2014 when I decided I wanted to get out of debt, I never had a budget and I never thought about how much money I was spending. As long as my bank account had a positive balance, I never really worried about it.
I spent money so foolishly back then. I often chose a new outfit over buying groceries, or a night out with friends over filling up my gas tank. I still managed to pay my bills and on-time, but I often had to rely on my credit card to fill the gaps when I needed groceries or gas.
Looking back, I’m actually quite angry at myself for spending so foolishly, and yet I still struggle with my spending priorities at times.
You see, I love fashion and remaining fashionable and well-dressed is not usually a frugal affair. I know I could save a lot of money by buying used clothes like many other frugal personal finance bloggers suggest, but honestly I don’t like shopping at thrift stores and garage sales. So instead, I’ve come up with a few ways to get some new clothes, jewelry, and accessories for free without having to wear clothes from some stranger’s closet.
Host a Clothing Swap with Friends
For me, one of the least appealing things about shopping at thrift stores and garage sales is that you never know where the clothes you are buying have been. Yes, I know you can wash them in the washing machine, and you should do so before wearing them. But for some reason, it still grosses me out to wear used clothing from a stranger.
Luckily, I’m ok with borrowing or swapping clothes with family and friends. Having a clothing swap with friends should be fun and you’ll get some new (to you) pieces for your wardrobe. It’s a great way to feel like you are shopping and getting new things without spending money.
How to Have a Clothing Swap
To have a successful clothes swap you need to find a group of 4-8 friends or family members who are of similar size to you and each other, that way you won’t have to worry about feeling like nothing at the swap will fit you.
Each person should bring a designated number of clothing items, in good condition, to trade. When the swap is over, each person should also leave with the same number of items. If this feels too restrictive, you could instead have people bring any number of items they want, but they can’t take more home than they brought to start with. If there are unwanted items leftover at the end of the party, you could donate them to charity.
When guests arrive at the party, you should take their clothing items and accessories and organize them by type. A few card tables will work to separate shirts from pants, skirts, and more. It’s up to you what types of clothing you accept at your swap party. You might even decide to have a bonus category or free-for-all bin with costume jewelry, scarves, belts, and other accessories.
Some swap parties are very rigid with people taking turns shopping for one item at time, while others are more free-flowing with people milling about and shopping the items as they please.
Having a bathroom or other room nearby with a mirror where guests can try things on is also a good idea. After all, girls can rarely buy things without trying them on and admiring ourselves in the mirror first. Kidding. Not kidding.
To make the party fun, you should consider providing snacks and possibly even having a BYOB policy for drinks. Play some music from a good Pandora station and you’ve got yourself a party.
Have you ever held a swap party to get clothes for free? Can you think of any other ways to get new-to-you clothes for free?