If you have young children, you know how quickly they grow. In the blink of an eye, your precious bundle of joy goes from diapers to dress clothes and from onesies to boxer briefs. Little girls sprout into tweens overnight and boys turn from toddlerhood into young men sometimes before they've had the chance to wear the same outfit twice.
When kids grow and change with such speed, spending lots of money on their clothing is wasteful. Sure, you want your kids to look nice and keep up with fashion trends, but at what cost? To wear a pricey blouse for one special event or invest in a pair of tailored pants your kid's ankles will stick out from in a few months is money practically thrown in the trash.
Kids are expensive to raise, from food to schooling to healthcare and more, so invest your money into something that's longer-term than a turtleneck your kid won't be able to fit over his head by the following winter. Here are some easy ways to save money on children's clothing you'll feel proud to have put into effect. And don't forget, no matter what they want to wear now, once your kids are adults, they'll look back at their childhood outfits in photos and cringe anyhow!
1. Swap with Friends
Just because a kid grows out of something doesn't mean the piece of clothing's life is over. If a child only wore something a few times, why not let someone else own it next?
Meet up with friends who have kids around the same age and size and swap clothing. Or connect with friends with older kids who have clothing that your kid has caught up to, and vice versa. It's like going shopping without spending a cent. The clothes will feel like new to you and your child because they've never worn them before.
As recommended by Money Crashers, "Tell all your friends to bring 10 to 15 pieces that are in great condition and approximately the same size, and you'll end up with new additions to your child's closet." You'll leave with a bunch of new pieces as will your friends. It's like recycling for clothing!
2. Thrift Shop
As kids are growing, playing and making a mess, and constantly need things far more important than expensive clothing, shopping frugally is the way to go. Hit up local thrift shops, tag and garage sales, consignment stores, and the like. You'll find what you need at the fraction of the cost of name brands and designer duds. As long as the clothing is well put together and stylish, your kids will be comfortable and you'll feel like a savvy shopper.
As per Mom365, "Goodwill, the Salvation Army and other used clothing stores are a great way to get a large chunk of your child's wardrobe on the cheap. Because the clothing is donated, there may be small stains or minor wear, but in terms of price, these stores usually offer the biggest bang for the buck. Plus, many of these stores are raising money for their charitable projects, so you can feel good about your purchases."
3. Forget Gender
When you're out buying clothing, let go of the stereotypical gender-specific colors, prints, and patterns and aim for neutrality. Not only will you get more use from the basics, but these pieces of clothing can be used for your daughter now, and then for her little brother when he catches up in size. Or if your son and daughter wear close to the same size, they can share t-shirts, sweats, socks, and even pjs.
This shopping mentality saves on those big ticket items like winter gear, rain gear, boots, and jackets. As Money Crashers notes, "Buy them in black or brown so they can be shared and passed down. These items can be pricey, and having to buy only one pair is a big financial relief."
4. Shop Pre- or Post-Season
Waiting until the first snowfall to buy a winter coat or that first perfect beach day for a swimsuit purchase may seem season-appropriate, but it'll cost you. When these items are in high-demand, the prices are at their peak meaning you'll have to shell out full price.
Instead, stock up during the off-seasons when sales are in place and stores need to clear off their shelves and racks. As Sidetracked Sarah suggests, "Take inventory at the end of the current season. What sizes and items will your child need when this season comes up again? Often, stores will be clearancing the out of season items at 75% to 90% off."
Kids go from pint-sized to almost our size in a snap. Their clothing is for the moment and not a lifetime, so spend with that notion in mind. Use what you've saved for something special or for their other needs and you'll realize how far a dollar will stretch when it comes to your kid's wardrobe.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.