It’s no secret that having children is expensive. From the cost of diapers to the expense of extracurricular activities as kids get older, it seems as if they’re always on some new path that costs money. Some of those kid-related expenses are completely unavoidable, but others can be circumvented with a bit of creative thinking and a determination to not waste money. Kids’ clothes can be a major drain on your budget, but there are ways to cut clothing costs down to a manageable level.
Be Reasonable About Babies
When you first learn that you’re expecting a brand new bundle of joy, especially as a first-time parent, every tiny shoe or ruffled onesie seems like a non-negotiable expense. Realistically, however, you won’t need to stock up on piles of high-end infant couture. In a matter of months or even weeks, infants and toddlers will outgrow their clothing. Furthermore, they’re still too young at that age to be consumed with the idea of fitting in with their fashionable peers. While there’s nothing wrong with a few indulgent special occasion purchases, you should keep in mind when you’re shopping for babies and toddlers that plain, durable and inexpensive items are much smarter purchases.
Hit the Sales Rack
When the new season’s shipments come in, most of a store’s stock goes to the sale rack. If you’re lucky, you can snap up a few items that are still serviceable for a while until the weather actually changes. Stocking up on essential items at deep discounts keeps your kids in clothing from the stores they love, without forcing you to pay the full ticket price.
When higher-end stores purchase too much, they generally dump the stock on outlet and discount stores like T.J. Maxx and Ross. Hitting those stores and others of their ilk can help you dress your kids to the proverbial nines without breaking the bank. Snapping up stylish clothes at bargain prices helps you save more money while satisfying tweens’ and teens’ need to stock up on items of recognizable branding.
While kids aren’t known for taking particularly good care of their clothing, you can score gently worn items at nicer consignment shops for a fraction of their original price. In some cases, you’ll even find items with the retailers’ tags still dangling, an indication of another mom whose enthusiasm for purchasing the best clothes outstripped her child’s ability to wear them all before going up a size or two. When you’re shopping consignment, be sure that you give any item you’re thinking of purchasing a thorough once-over before taking it to the register. If you miss a stain, tear or hole, you probably won’t be able to obtain a refund, as most consignment store purchases are final. By keeping an eye out for defects or signs of wear, you can walk out of a consignment store with a huge haul for pennies on the original-retail dollar.
Consider Purpose When You’re Checking for Quality
An item isn’t a bargain if it falls apart after one wear, even if it costs next to nothing. That being said, you should consider the purpose an article of clothing will serve when you’re checking the garment’s quality. Play clothes that you’ll send your little ones out to make mud pies in don’t have to stand up to the same scrutiny as a dress reserved for special occasions. If an item is cheaply priced and isn’t overly flimsy, it may still be a worthwhile purchase, especially if it’s only purpose is to keep your child from exposing himself as he climbs a tree or goes bananas with finger-paint. Play clothes don’t have to have a designer label, but they should be durable enough to withstand more than one trip to the playground.
Swap and Share
If you have friends and family members with children the same age or roughly the same size as your own, you can establish a system of swapping and sharing outgrown clothing that eliminates the need for some purchases. Saving money through these types of arrangements allows you to make the pricier purchases for special occasions without doing serious damage to your household budget.
In-Store Credit Cards
Most major retailers offer in-store credit cards that you can use for discounts on your purchases, ostensibly saving money on the clothing that you buy for your kids. Be aware, however, that all of those special-offer savings and customer loyalty discounts go out the window if you don’t pay the balance off before interest charges kick in. While it is a method of saving money on clothes, taking out store credit is something you should do sparingly and with caution.
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