Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience unlike any other. As new parents soon find out, children are expensive, and moms and dads are often eager to find ways to save money without sacrificing the quality of care their kids receive.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the cost of nurturing a child to age 18, when adjusted for cost of living, has increased by $40,000 since 1960. While the cost of raising a child depends on a wide range of factors, including geography, being a parent in the 21st century requires a more significant financial commitment than it did in decades past.
Clothing is a considerable expense for growing families. Children grow out of clothes rather quickly, and parents often find themselves on the hunt for new clothing to accommodate their growing children. Parents can expect to spend in the range of $1,500 to $2,000 per year on children’s clothing, and a 2010 study from researchers at North Dakota State University found that the average American household spends about 3.8 percent of their income on clothing. Cutting clothing costs can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. The following are a few ways to curb spending.
* Shop end of season. Take advantage of end-of-season clothing close-outs to replenish wardrobes. Think ahead to what sizes children will be wearing next year and purchase accordingly. Some stores offer discounts that can be as high as 80 percent off the original price in an effort to clear out last year’s inventory and make room for new arrivals. Use an empty closet or set up storage containers marked with clothing sizes to keep clothing organized. When the kids grow into a new size, you will already have a closet full of new clothes ready to go.
* Consider consignment stores. Shopping at consignment and thrift stores can be a great way to supplement a child’s wardrobe without breaking the bank. Consignment shops and donation centers often have extensive inventories, and many items found in such stores are in excellent condition. It’s not uncommon to find popular brand name merchandise and some designer or couture finds at consignment shops. When shopping at donation stores, shoppers are not only finding affordable clothing, but also are helping to give back to the community through their purchases.
* Organize a clothing swap. Organizing a clothing swap can be a great way to save money and make friends by getting to know other parents. Chances are there are many other parents looking for ways to cut expenses. Children who grow out of clothing can pass down these items to other people. A clothing exchange is a way to socialize, recycle and save money in the process.
* Sign up for customer loyalty programs. In a typical loyalty program, a stores offers discounts to loyal customers. These discounts may include percentages off of everyday purchases or special “private” sale days that aren’t available to the general public. Shoppers also can speak to store employees to find out when retailers traditionally mark down clothing or offer specialized promotions. Establishing a good rapport with store employees can be a great way to learn about upcoming sales before your fellow customers.
Clothing expenses for children continue to rise. But cost-conscious parents can corral their clothing expenses in various ways.