20 reasons why I don’t charity shop

It is kind of people to suggest that I go charity shopping for clothes for our family. If they think I haven’t thought of that. The chances are, that with 6 children, a student budget, and a permanent position as wardrobe mistress to my family, I would have considered and most likely tried it.

I feel awkward in those conversations when it is suggested. Often the suggestion to buy our clothes this way comes as a ‘should’. Or the person suggesting it does it successfully for their family. I know some people who just seem to have an amazing gift for finding bargains that they actually want in charity shops. It always makes me feel bad that I don’t do it, and that they think I should. 

  1. My first point can’t be made very easily, and is likely to be confronting. Here it is: just because we don’t have a large income, and do have a big family, doesn’t mean we have to wear tatty clothes, or that having new things is an irresponsible use of our finances. This isn’t ever said aloud, but has been the sub text a few times in conversation on this topic. It is also pretty obvious to me when 5 bin bags of stuff is dumped on my doorstep and I feel an obligation to go through it all… Which takes a lot of time… And I discover a) it’s not all clean and b) a lot of it would be put in the rags pile by said charity shop. So why was it good enough for me? (I once read an article called “why I don’t give crap to the poor” and it was fantastic. People have dumped an inordinate amount of crap on us. I add it to the pile of our own junk that we are recycling or throwing away, if it isn’t donateable).
  2. I have a clothes budget. It’s pretty low, but I have the ability to choose whether to pay a certain amount for an item of clothing or not. If it is what we need, I can buy it if the money is there. 
  3. Less is more. Maybe I don’t want 15 tops for each of my daughters. 7 or 8 will do, so I don’t have to go looking for second hand ones, I can buy the ones I do want at prices I am happy to pay. Such as in a sale. And then I might ‘buy ahead’ if I have funds and it is a good plan at the time. Or I might not.
  4. I think charity shops can be over priced. Especially compared to good deals from quality shops in sales. 
  5. I have 3 boys and 3 girls. So we hand down all our clothes. I keep the clothes in great condition, never tumble except only on low VERY rarely and the clothes last us and are used well.
  6. Boys wear their clothes pretty hard, especially trousers. Decent boys’ clothes don’t exist in many charity shops. They are often worn out and not even handed down in our family. And that’s ok.
  7. We are given some second hand clothes. I keep the ones that will work in our wardrobes and fit with our needs. This frees up some money for good quality new additions… At the right price, with the budgeted money… Etc.
  8. Sizes. This is currently a problem. Second hand clothes, especially if they have been tumble dried, don’t always fit the size it says on the label. It is very annoying for me to have size 6 clothes that don’t fit my 5yo, and need to be worn by the 3yo. It doesn’t help the girls manage their clothes, and it doesn’t help anyone else help them. I am being ruthless about this right now.
  9. I have 6 children. I don’t have time to waste going shopping all of the time in the hope of bargains. I want to go out with a list and get all I need in one or maybe two shops. In one afternoon or morning. For all 6 children. Who would most likely all be with me. This works amazingly. It does not work in charity shops. 
  10. I have so many pressures on my time. I can’t spend it all shopping. The saving is small and counter productive. In my experience. The way I do it. 
  11. My oldest child is 12. I’ve been buying his clothes for 12 years. I am good at it. I also respect his (and the others’) taste, preferences, and desire to choose. If your eldest child is 6 or 7, and especially if they are a girl, you just won’t understand why I have not pursued charity shopping for my kids’ clothes. 
  12. I find charity shops chaotic and disorganised. I don’t like the smell. It’s not an environment that works for me.
  13. Being intentional about our wardrobes saves us money in any event.
  14. Being intentional about just about everything, saves us money and I can budget for my preference in not charity shopping. 
  15. I save money in ways others don’t. And that’s fine! Washable nappies, menu planning, strict grocery budget, reusable cloths instead of kitchen towel… It all adds up. I don’t have to justify myself explaining these things to someone who thinks I need to be buying second hand clothes. I generally don’t go around telling people they should be washing nappies or saving money on baby wipes and kitchen towel at mealtimes. But those things save an incredible amount of cash.
  16. My children are well dressed and it makes them feel good. They are taking care of their appearance and it is part of their self worth. 
  17. We have no debt. Low income but no debt. We can budget our income in the ways that suit our family and work towards our values. 
  18. I care about fair trade and slave labour. I know that is a good reason not to buy clothes new. But the times I have really tried to do this, again, usually just after someone’s helpful ‘should’ comment… Haven’t been blessed. 
  19. Marks and Spencer school polo shirts are really cheap and they post to Australia for free. Their socks are also great and a third of the price of Australian socks. Another saving. 
  20. We are all different. 

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