Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Busy Mom's Life: Shifting down

Posted November 20, 2010 3:48 p.m. EST

Being the mom of three daughters can be expensive. One of the ways I save money is by going through a process I call "shifting down." It's our family's system of organizing hand-me-downs.

I start with the youngest child and remove things from her closet and her dresser that no longer fit her. Then I go through a bin of hand-me-downs from my middle daughter and give them to the youngest. I start the process all over again in my middle daughter's room. Instead of giving things away that no longer fit her, I put them away in a bin if I think they will fit my youngest daughter in the future. You get the idea. When I finally get to my oldest daughter’s room, I have a pretty good sense of what needs to be purchased to get us through the next six months.

Organization is the key to "shifting down." The bins need to be clearly labeled, because you will more than likely forget what you put in them six months after the fact. You also need to remember to go through the bins or you'll be kicking yourself over a missed opportunity such as a special outfit that will no longer fit any of your children. And the last thing you want to do is buy something you already have… like that white dress shirt for the third grade choir concert.

So far, this system has worked for me. I do it twice a year, once in the spring for warmer months and once in the fall for colder months. Keep in mind… I have same-sex children who are similar in size and they’re all about two years apart. Who knows? Maybe there’s something you’ll find useful in this post to apply to your own routine even if you’re saving hand-me-downs for a nephew or a niece.

I know that some day my daughters are not going to enjoy the "shifting down" process. They might even turn their noses at the whole thing when they're teenagers turned fashionistas. But for now, no one is complaining and we're saving money in the process.

Aysu is the mom of three girls and assistant news director for WRAL-TV. Read her post from last week on time savers for busy moms.