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.
When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.