Raising kids is expensive. The USDA estimates that the cost to raise a child to the age of 18 in the United States is over $241, 000. Today, I am going to share some tips with you that will hopefully help you get that bill down in one area: clothing.
1. Don’t pay full price for anything. As a person who worked for many years in retail, I can tell you that you should pretty much never pay full price. All clothes in the store will eventually go on sale, and it will usually be the same selection of sizes as when the clothes first arrived. Additionally, most retailers nowadays will have coupons that you can use on your purchases. Just “like” your favorite stores on Facebook, sign up to receive promotional emails on their website and/or text messages on your phone, and wait for the opportunities to save to come rolling in. Even thrift stores typically have sale days where everything is 50% off, and will send coupons to their best customers. The only time I would advocate paying full price is if you needed an outfit right away, and couldn’t come across any current coupons. But if you follow Tip #2 that shouldn’t really happen…
2. Plan ahead. This is something you can start doing as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Figure out what season it will be when your child is 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc. and look for clothes in those sizes when you are out shopping. Since you don’t need the clothes right away–you can wait until they are a really good deal. Just don’t do this if you live in Colorado and have a 3 year old boy or 5 month old girl and like to shop the Target clearance rack. ?
3. Handle with care. The better care you take of your little ones’ clothing, the longer it will last. When washing clothes, turn them inside out, wash them in cold water, and dry them on low heat. This will put less stress on the fabrics and also help keep the colors brighter longer. Another care tip is to pretreat stains as soon as you can. I keep stain remover by the washing machine, and also in my kids’ bathroom so I have quick access to it when stains happen. And if you exclusively breastfeed your babies, remember that you can remove stains from diaper leakage by putting the clothes out in the sunshine. Who knows why it works, it just does (I told you breastmilk was full of magic. ;))
4. Keep things organized. If you keep like items together in your children’s closets and drawers, you can quickly see what you have to work with, and what you might need more of. Keeping like items together also help you avoid buying duplicates of the same things.
5. Look for basics. Long sleeved and short sleeved shirts in solid colors are really an essential part of anyone’s wardrobe–kids and grownups alike. These items can be used as layering pieces to help you get more wear out of other more interesting items in your child’s wardrobe. Long sleeved shirts can be worn under t-shirts or short-sleeved button downs to carry those items from summer into winter. And short sleeved tees can be worn under long sleeved shirts made out of thinner material, as an extra layer of warmth to carry those items from spring to fall.
6. Invest in what matters. Take some of the money that you have saved on clothing and use it to purchase high quality shoes. Shoes are something that kids wear everyday, and with little ones that are just learning how to walk and run, the construction is important. I like stride rite because they have something called SRT, a technology that helps your kid balance and fall less when they are first learning to use their feet. And remember that babies don’t need shoes, socks will do just fine. Yes tiny shoes are cute, but they are a not necessary part of a wardrobe. Well constructed shoes are more expensive, but if you get a pair in a versatile style and color, your kid can wear the same pair pretty much everyday. And if you use tip #1, you’ll wait until they go on sale/and or use a coupon to bring the price down too.
7. Remember your priorities. Whenever you are tempted to buy something really cute for your child that you know he or she doesn’t need, ask yourself, “Is this really is the best use of my money?” Yes, your child might get a fly outfit, but I bet they’d rather have a parent with a healthy retirement account that won’t need financial support in 40 years. Or, you could put that money in a fund for your son or daughter’s education. Now, if you’ve already got those and other important financial issues covered, then hey–splurge away. But if you don’t, it is important to remember to plan and save for the future–even if that means going without things we might really want (but don’t really need) today.
8. Pay it forward. Obviously, if you are planning on having more kids, you should save your clothing and other baby items so you don’t have to buy them again for your next kid. But if you know you’re finished having kids, consider donating the things that you no longer need. You can give them to a relative, a friend of a friend, or your local thrift store. Even if you could possibly make money by selling the clothes, you are going a good deed and helping your community by giving the items away. Additionally, If you believe in the idea that you put out what you get back, you are opening yourself up to perhaps being on the receiving in of someone else’s generosity in the future.
So, those are my tips on how to make the most out of your kids clothes. What did you think? Do you have any other tips you’d like to share?
DeAnna is a former psychotherapist turned blogger and stay-at-home mom. You can read her thoughts about race, racism and other forms of inequality on her blog: www.myblackfriendsays.com