The following is a guest post from Carlynn Adeline. As a mom of two girls, Carlynn is well aware of how expensive children’s clothing can be. After the birth of her second daughter, she decided to make a change to improve family finances by making use of hand-me-downs and following her own advice as laid out in this article. Carlynn hopes that she can help others keep family household spending down.
Recovering from a shopping addiction is an impressive feat that is easier said than done. It takes an unquantifiable amount of strength to limit our impulsivity and strictly adhere to a monthly budget. The road to intelligent spending may be a long one with many obstacles, yet it’s definitely worth it when you manage to rack up savings and see amazing returns in the long run.
The High Cost of Raising Children
But it’s not just individuals who have difficulty avoiding excessive expenditures. The struggle to keep costs down exists on a grander scale for parents. While they don’t want to give in to impulse buys, they also want to provide the best for their children, but their bank accounts often suffer in the process. In an article posted on Today’s Parent, Kansas economist John Ward reveals that the all-in cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years of age in the United States rounds up to $700,000.
No, that statistic doesn’t mean that you need to be a millionaire to have a second child, but it does exhibit the never-ending battle to cut down on costs. In reality, there are plenty of ways to minimize unnecessary spending, many of which may not appear obvious to parents. One area in which families can minimize expenses is with clothing.
Some Sobering Numbers on Children’s Clothing Expenses
Even if they stick to the labels they can afford, some parents still manage to spend $600 or more in the weeks leading up to the start of each school year. To be fair, some of that cash spent goes toward office supplies and backpacks, but a huge portion is spent on back-to-school clothing. According to Time magazine, families are dropping $630.36 on average during this time period, of which 93% of that expenditure is for new clothes.
Back-to-school isn’t the only time when parents spend a lot of money on clothing for their kids. LiveStrong explains that parents spend around 6% of the family income every month on clothing, which doesn’t seem like a large percentage but can be quite significant for lower income families.
Tips for Keeping Costs Down
So how can we avoid such drastic expenses?
1) Invest in versatility and quality
While little girls look adorable in tutus, function should be your top priority when it comes to shopping for your kids’ clothes. One strategy that will really help you save money is to shop for gender-neutral clothing that can be shared among your little ones. Other than versatility, you’ll also want to look for garments that will last wash after wash. This includes dresses and other items that are “made from the finest cotton, finished to the highest quality and gently pre-washed to ensure there is no color run or shrinkage,” a promise guaranteed by unisex clothing company Tootsa MacGinty, who specializes in wonderful dresses and a variety of children’s knitwear.
But they aren’t the only retailers trying to make an impression on the industry with this sort of efficient and creative solution; many household brands are beginning to follow suit. Ethical children’s clothing brand Frugi is all about using organic cotton and recycled fibers to make reversible garments that can be worn in two ways instead of one, while Little Green Radicals produces a wide range of organic basics that can easily be paired with the items your kids already own.
2) Make use of hand-me-downs
The expression, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is perfect in this context. If the clothes that your kids have outgrown are still in good condition, there’s no reason for you to get rid of them. Hand them down to your younger ones, or give them to family or friends who have just entered parenthood. They can always return the favor if you end up having another child in the future.
3) Organize a clothing swap in your neighborhood
For more people to benefit from the joys of hand-me-downs, put together a clothing swap like you would for your friends. Money Crashers suggests that each participant bring 10 to 15 pre-loved pieces that are still wearable to the swap. This way, your kids and the other children in your neighborhood can enjoy a new wardrobe without spending a dime.
Do you have any other money-saving tips for children’s clothes? Feel free to share them in the comments section! You can also post any questions you may have about the information Carlynn has outlined in this post.
A big thanks to Carlynn for sharing her tips and resources with all of us! Since I don’t have children, I have never touched upon the topic of children’s clothing in my posts. I appreciate Carlynn tackling a topic that may be of interest to many “Recovering Shopaholic” readers.