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By Renae Chiovaro
Paying full price for children's clothes is a strain on any budget. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your kids dressed nicely while staying in your budget.
An easy way to get new clothes is to participate in a clothing swap. Contact friends, family and parents in the community to gather interest for a clothing swap. Once you have enough interest, set a date and send out invitations. Make sure the date gives parents enough time to gather outgrown clothes.
In the invitation, indicate that the goal is to exchange clothes that are in good or like-new condition. It should also be noted that not everyone will arrive with the same amount of clothes. It does not have to be an even exchange. The more people who participate in the clothing swap, the better it will be. Kids' clothes from all different age groups will make the exchange more successful.
The day of the swap, set up tables and make signs for different categories. Consider making categories according to size, gender, accessories and shoes. Have participants arrive 15 minutes prior to swap time to place their items in the designated categories. The swapping should not start until everyone has divided their clothes.
Once the items have been sorted, share the simple rule of the swap: Whoever sees the item first has first dibs. Of course, there is always room for bargaining! If unwanted items remain at the end of the swap, donate them to a local charity. Or if someone has storage space, save the leftover items for the next swap.
Swaps can be done for a variety of items, like adult clothing, household goods and toys. A recent successful swap I participated in was a toy swap before Christmas, at my mom's club. It really helped keep the Christmas budget low for many families! Consider holding a swap every season to keep your closets free of clutter and to enhance your family's wardrobe for free.
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Renae Chiovarois a mother of two boys who blogs at madamedeals.com on how to save money in all aspects of life.