Clothes and Shoes

Sticking Points

Two points in the day can give a working person trouble: getting dressed for work, and knowing what in the world is for supper when you get home. In both cases, it’s not the action, it’s the thinking about it and planning that can cause difficulty.

When I was especially busy at work I used to hang a week’s worth of outfits in the closet complete with undergarments and accessories. Any morning, all I had to do was grab one and put it on. The underpinning of this system is that I had to do laundry or at least assemble outfits every weekend. That was easy enough and saved me indecision and delay on a work morning. 

The what’s for supper problem is similar. On the weekend, or during a boring meeting, or if evening TV isn’t holding your attention, sketch out a week’s worth of main meals and write down what you need to make them. Saturday, or whenever works for you, buy all that. Having written down what to make and bought the ingredients, all you have to do when you get home is review the list of meals and make one. 

I used to buy Chicken Tonight dinner sauces and pour them over a baking dish of chicken pieces and frozen vegetables, with maybe instant rice or cubed potatoes. Forty-five minutes in the oven while I changed clothes or helped with homework or whatever, and supper was ready. 





One In, One Out

While affluence is a terrific thing, compared to poverty, it does have its downside: too much stuff. “Too much” can mean not being able to find what you need, because all the extras are in the way. “Too much” can mean additional expenses: storage fees, bigger rent for a larger home, buying things you know you have but can’t find, medical costs from tripping over the excess. . . .

Once you have enough clothes, enough dishes, enough canned goods, enough pots and pans, the next step is to limit the proliferation. “Enough” means different things to different people. Decide what your enough is, then stick to it with the one-in-one-out system. Tempted by that new shirt? So, is it really better than the shirt you’d have to give away if you bought a new one? If so, great. If not, you just saved the cost of a new shirt and saved yourself from a closet so crowded it’s hard to find anything.

One advantage of this system is that it makes us stop and realize how great the stuff we already have is. That contributes to peace of mind and positive mood, besides saving money.



Special Occasion Clothes

Many of us don’t often wear formal attire, evening gowns, or cocktail dresses.

One way to deal with this is to find a resale shop near a neighborhood where people do wear those. You can not only buy a dress for the occasion less expensively than new, but when you’re done with it you can have it cleaned and sell it back to a resale shop, reducing your cost even more.


Ink Removal Magic

A careless gesture left a swipe of black ballpoint ink on the front of my favorite yellow shirt. I laid the affected area across the drain of the sink and poured rubbing alcohol on it. The line immediately softened and widened. After perhaps a minute, I squirted more alcohol on it and watched the ink magically disappear.

Rinse immediately, lest the magic also remove the color from the garment.

It’s probably smart to test in a hidden area such as the inside of a hem–some clothes might lose color right away. On the other hand, if removing the ink also removes the color, you can squirt it at random and wring it out to make a sort of tie-dye pattern.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

You CAN Get Latex Paint Out of Clothes!

I “knew” that once paint got on clothes, the clothes were doomed. Not so:

Hand sanitizer, an old toothbrush, effort and patience.

52 Weeks: Children – How Much Do They Cost?

I have seen articles on the Internet that say it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, a quarter of a million dollars, to raise a child. There may be families who can and do spend that much. I also know families who couldn’t if they wanted to. My own experience is that kids cost as much as you are prepared to spend.

For instance, there are several levels of spending to choose from:


$0: hand me downs. I wore my older cousin’s clothes, and when I outgrew them, handed them on to her younger sister.

$small: rummage sale, garage sale, thrift store, and consignment store purchases. For very young children especially, garage sales are a bonanza of barely used clothes

$big: new clothes from a discount store

$huge: new designer clothes from a high-end department store



$0: older sibling’s hand me downs

$15: sneakers, new

$35: leather shoes, new

$200: fashionable athletic shoe, new, that are outgrown in six months


Each family applies its own values and preferences to deciding what levels to spend on.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on in both Kindle and paperback versions.

52 Weeks: Frugal Wedding Garments

People have gotten married in a nice suit and dress and lived happily. It doesn’t make the marriage any stronger to spend thousands on a specific gown for weddings only, and buy or rent a tux. For my first wedding, I wore my nicest dress, and he wore his best suit. For my second, the groom and his two best men bought matching suits that were also suitable to wear to the office, or to someone else’s wedding or funeral. Or to court, which is where I last saw that husband and recognized the suit.

My soon to be mother-in-law made my dress. The materials cost less than half as much as the fancy wedding hat I just had to have. A dress advertised for bridesmaids or for prom might be perfect and cost less. We bought good quality silk flowers and reused them for other things after the wedding. We were married around graduation time, and all the professional photographers were booked up. Our brother-in-law took the pictures and did an excellent job.