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Saving money and increasing income

How can I save money on clothes?

Along with food and toiletries, clothes are a regular living expense that we’ll need to cover for the rest of our lives. Finding good quality clothes that aren’t too expensive is ideal, but it’s not always easy to do.

By following these simple tips, you could save a lot of money on clothes and find managing your budget easier.

Keep track of what’s in your wardrobe

Most people have items in their wardrobe that they no longer need or don’t wear very often. Here’s what you can do in this situation.

Sell garments you haven’t worn in over a year, unless they’re formal outfits for things such as weddings or job interviews. Any money you make back could go towards your debts or into a savings account. 

Set aside the clothes you do want to keep. Can you put together at least seven staple outfits from what’s left? The idea is to have enough outfits to get you through a typical week. If you work in a smart environment such as an office, at least three of these outfits should be suitable to wear on work days.

Try putting all of your clothes on hangers instead of folding them away in drawers. It makes it much easier to plan an outfit and keep track of the clothes you already have. 

Looking for more money-saving ideas?

On our blog, you can find lots of money-saving ideas to keep your wardrobe looking wonderful for longer, such as: 


Make sure to sign up to our MoneyAware newsletter for even more great tips sent straight to your inbox every month!

Saving money with ‘Pre-loved’ clothes

If you’re willing to wear something that was previously owned by someone else, you could find some great bargains. Why not try:

Your local charity shop: Most charity shops on the high street pride themselves on only selling high quality items, so there’s a great chance you’ll find something to your liking. Some even have an online shop you can browse too, meaning you can get great second-hand outfits from all over the UK.

It’s best to approach charity shops with an open mind. If you go to a charity shop with a very specific item in mind, you may be disappointed. Instead, take a look at the clothes you already have at home, and think of colours and fabric textures that will match. Also, look out for items that are likely to go with several different pieces of clothing, such as a good pair of jeans or a smart jacket.

When browsing, make sure you check all of the racks in the shop, even the ones you don’t think will have anything you’re interested in. Sometimes the best items are hidden deep in the clothes racks (and sometimes people hide good items on purpose to pick up later!).

Some popular high street stores actually donate surplus clothes to charity shops in the local area. It’s cheaper than keeping all of that stuff in storage, and it’s better for the environment than putting it in a landfill. Most importantly, it means great bargains for you!

High street stores will often cut the labels out of the clothes before they donate them. Look out for this when browsing. It could mean that you’ve found an item that’s completely brand new and a lot cheaper than its original price.

Because people donate to charity shops every day, that means that new stock’s coming in all of the time. It’s worth popping in to your favourite charity shop at least once a week (or whenever you can).

While you’re there, why not make friends with the volunteers that work in the charity shop? Being nice costs nothing. Once you’ve built up a rapport, let the volunteers know what you’re looking for. They may keep an eye out for anything that might take your fancy.

A ‘swishing’ event: Many UK cities have ‘swishing’ groups that meet up regularly. The idea is to bring along around up to five items you no longer want. They’ll be added to a big pile of clothes donated by other ‘swishers’. You can then pick five items that are much more to your liking.

You sometimes have to pay a small fee to attend a swishing event, but you can more than make your money back.

Your friend’s wardrobe: If you have a friend who wears a similar size to you, see if they’d like to have a ‘clothes swap’.

More tips for saving money on clothes

Thinking of buying an item of clothing online? See if you can try it on in store first - if it doesn’t fit once you’ve ordered it, sometimes you have to pay postage fees to send it back for a refund or exchange. You can also find out whether you like it, and if it's worth ordering.

Make sure you check clothes for faults such as loose buttons or holes. If you find something wrong with the garment and still want it, you could ask the shop assistant if they could knock money off the price.

Be mindful of clothing sizes when buying vintage or older garments. Clothing sizes have changed over time, so an older size could feel like a bit of a squeeze.

Invest in a bobble remover. They’re great for removing frays or ‘bobbles’ from clothes such as wool coats and sweaters. This can take years off a garment and make it look almost brand new. You can buy bobble removers quite cheaply at high street shops or online.

How to save money on school uniforms

School uniforms can be expensive, but you can save money on them with some planning and shopping around.

Here are some tips to help you cover the cost of school uniforms:

  • When you’re on a long-term debt solution, funds are allocated in your monthly budget for clothing. Try setting aside some money every month towards school uniform costs
  • Find out what items your child’s school consider to be essential. Some items must fit specific guidelines set out by the school (such as the school blazer in the 'official' colour shade and material). However, you should have more flexibility with things such as shorts, skirts and jumpers. These can often be bought in your local supermarket for a reasonable price
  • If possible, buy the school logo as a patch and stitch it onto any items as required, such as the school blazer. This can work out much cheaper than buying a garment with the logo already stitched on from a specialist retailer

Some schools have uniform sales where you can pick up new, nearly new and high quality uniforms at a fraction of the normal cost. Ask your child’s school if this is something they offer.

Take the time to sew name tags into your child’s clothing. Children often lose or misplace clothes, and while name tags only cost a couple of pounds, it can cost a lot more to replace lost clothing. Alternatively, you could write their names on the inside label with a marker pen.

Can I get financial assistance with school uniform costs?

Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to help with school uniform costs. Some schools have schemes in place in order to help struggling families. Ask your school if they have any kind of assistance in place. You could also try:

Your local council

Your local council can sometimes help you cover the cost of school uniforms and a PE kit. You can usually find out more on their website.

If you live in Scotland, Ireland or Wales, you may qualify for a school uniform grant. Visit the gov.uk website for more information.

Governing bodies or parents’ associations

Governing bodies or parents’ associations may be able to provide some financial support or advice about school uniforms. This is normally displayed at the school or included in information about the school.

You can also contact the parents’ association or the school’s head teacher directly.

Your trade union

If you’re a trade union member and have a child in full time education, you may qualify for a school uniform grant. Get in touch with your union for more information.

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