Managing the Kids’ Clothing – Sort and Then What?

Part of a parent’s job is inventory control, and the more kids you have the larger the job (Kid’s Clothing – Managing the Hand-Me-Downs).  Clothing comes into the house via your own purchases, grandparents and extended family, and hand-me-downs from other families. On top of that, the kids will start buying some of their own things as they grow older. But with everything coming in, clothing should also exit the house and especially in today’s economics, you should pay attention to where it goes.

As a PracticalDad rule, the only clothing that is actually thrown out is that which is ruined beyond meaningful and cost-effective repair.  What does that mean?

  • The cost of repair or hemming is greater than the cost of the clothing itself.  Kmart’s Basic Editions line of clothing is cheap enough that paying to have it repaired/altered makes no sense.  If you can mend it yourself, then bully for you since that’s even less to throw out.
  • The stains are so bad and egregious that once it’s outgrown, you can’t envision having another child wear it.  Show some respect; just because someone else is taking your kid’s clothing doesn’t mean that theiri kids should dress in a way that you would find unacceptable for your own.

Determining Where It Goes

When you’ve culled through the clothing and decided what doesn’t need thrown out, you can move things accordingly.  I have some points that I consider in this.

  • Am I looking for tax deductions or do I even care about itemizing?

             If time is an issue, then you should consider whether you should go for the itemized deduction since the IRS has tightened the criteria on the value of what’s deductible.  Since Hilary donated Bill’s underwear for $5 a pop, the IRS has cracked down and home packages like TurboTax will assign an IRS approved amount dependent upon the quality of the donated item.

  • Do I care if the recipient is local or further away?  Do I even care if the recipient actually has financial concerns?

              Have you ever seen a photo of some impoverished African kid wearing a Stanford or Cowboys t-shirt?  I occasionally wondered how that kid got that shirt and it was about two years ago that I learned that the local rescue mission to which I donated clothing actually sent some of those donations on to third world countries.  Likewise, there are a fair number of middle class teens who shop at Goodwill and while I applaud their frugality. I’m less concerned with subsidizing their fashion taste.

               In today’s world, I want my clothing to stay as local as possible since middle class need doesn’t generate much press coverage or outcry.  Learn who’s in your kid’s class and neighborhood and you’ll start learning who can use what.

  • What does a recipient organization need or accept?  How much work am I willing to generate for myself?

              I’ve learned that our local Goodwill won’t accept shoes or baby toys/equipment for fear of liability issues.  Likewise, our local rescue mission will take shoes but not toys and I can never find anybody at the local Boys & Girls Club to actually accept the toys.  And frankly, having thirty seven piles of stuff is way beyond the pale of acceptable workload.

This PracticalDad’s Guidelines

So I’ve changed how things are distributed and adopted the following guidelines.

  1. Neighborhood schools and families who respond that they need and are willing to accept the clothing.  Yes, some school districts are sponsoring events where families can bring in unneeded clothing for use by those who might need it.
  2. Local non-profit and church thrift shops who don’t send the items out of the area.
  3. Rescue missions and other entities who serve under-privileged populations.  And yes, I still send some things to Goodwill.

While you might look at the stuff and feel a need to just get it out of the house, remember that the best use and greatest need in today’s world isn’t necessarily miles and time-zones away.


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