In a farewell to summer, my kids and I spent a recent weekend updating dresser drawers with larger, warmer clothing.
We didn't head to stores to stock up on the season's latest deals. We just walked down the hallway to my bedroom closet.
It's packed – almost embarrassingly so – with tubs of children's clothes, outerwear and shoes. They are mostly loaned to us from my older sister, who's also a mom and who also accepts hand-me-down clothes.
My kids wear everything from Circo and Garanimals to Children's Place and Baby Gap. Most of it comes by way of hand-me-down, but it's supplemented with gifts from grandparents and an occasional clearance deal I can't pass up.
The best part: My kids think it's fun to wear their older cousins' former clothes, and they love sharing their outgrown outfits with each other and my friends' children.
It's the gift that keeps on giving.
With my oldest child newly 5 years old, my three kids are not yet begging for things like a pair of $300-plus LeBron Nike shoes. But my ambitious hope is that my over-packed closet is already serving as a lesson on economics.
"Just because it's popular doesn't make it practical, and it's important for kids to understand the economics behind purchases," says Jennifer Hanniford, Dupaco's assistant vice president of interactive marketing. "There is only so much money to be divvied up between needs and wants."
Hanniford, also a mother of three, enjoys shopping at thrift stores and garage sales.
"It's a thrill to me to find that diamond-in-the-rough item that cost the original owner $40 and me only a buck," she says. "Through donating our items and thrift-store shopping or accepting hand-me-downs, I try to instill in my kids that someone else's stuff can be pretty cool."
We are not alone, we thrifty shoppers. According to America's Research Group, a consumer research firm, about 16 to 18 percent of Americans will shop at a thrift store during a given year.
My sister and I will be getting together soon. I'm genuinely glad to see her – and really excited that she's offering another pile of hand-me-down clothes.
And I will gladly accept them.
By Emily Kittle