Any parent knows it’s not cheap to raise a child.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in one report, found the annual cost can be between about $13,000 and $15,000 per child for the average family of four. That includes food, housing, transportation costs, child care, health care and, among other items, clothing.
Clothing costs take up about 6 percent of the total dollars spent per child, according to the report -- or about $780 to $900 per child. And, as the season changes to warmer weather, parents are paying closer attention to those clothing costs as they realize their fast-growing kids are too big for last year’s shorts, T-shirts and sundresses.
But, never fear, there are ways to save on kid’s clothes.
1. Children’s consignment sales: These biannual sales typically happen in late summer and early fall and late winter and early spring. Often run by local moms, church groups and nonprofits, the sales are a chance for parents to sell the gear their kids have grown out of and stock up on items they need. Shoppers typically pay about 25 percent of the retail cost on gently used items. At many of these sales, you’ll find piles of clothes for babies to grade schoolers. But, shopping for older kids, especially those who are picky about what they wear, can be trickier. ConsignmentMommies.com lists consignment sales across the country.
2. Thrift stores and garage sales: A buck for shoes. A quarter for shorts. It’s hard to beat the deals at your neighborhood thrift store or garage sale. And, let’s be honest, does your two-year-old care where her clothes come from? Would you rather she made that mud pie in the 25-cent garage sale T-shirt or the $10 blouse you bought for full price at the mall?
3. Consignment stores: Like those seasonal consignment sales, these shops, open all year, can be great opportunities to clean out your closets -- and fill them back up with items that actually fit your kids. Depending on the store, you can find clothes, shoes and more in all sizes. But the stores can especially be a great opportunity for teens, who are looking for trendier garb. Some shops, such as like Plato’s Closet, cater specifically to young adults.
4. Hand-me-downs: What kid hasn’t worn their older sibling’s or cousin’s hand-me-downs? Maybe you wouldn’t outfit your son in his older sister’s bathing suit. But, in many cases, clothes can be interchangeable -- whether it’s a rain jacket or a T-shirt.
5. Neighborhood swaps: Along your block or in your apartment building, you’ll probably find another family, who is trying to figure out how to load up on summer gear without breaking the bank. Line up a summer clothing swap with neighbors and friends. You can pick up new-to-you items for your children for free. Your neighbors can do the same.
6. Planning ahead: It might not help you this season, but, as each season winds down, check the sales racks at your favorite stores for great deals on clothes in a larger size that your kids can wear next year. End of season clearance sales can offer tremendous savings.
Kids grow fast. They get messy. And they are no stranger to skinned knees -- and ripped jeans. Buying secondhand clothes -- or swapping items with friends, family and neighbors -- keeps kids in seasonally appropriate gear and parents “in the black.”
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