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.
Sometimes there is no choice—a home needs to be sold in the winter.
Spring may be the most popular time to put your house on the market, but homes do sell in the colder months. With fewer houses available, your home may be someone's only choice when house hunting in your neighborhood. As your neighbors hold out until spring, you'll already be done and ready to shop for your next house!
Here are a few tips for selling a home in the winter to get you on the right track.
Keep Paths Safe and Landscaping Fresh
Landscaping is the last thing on a homeowner's mind in the winter. Everything was cut back in the fall and may now be covered in snow. Still, take a walk around the house and yard to check everything out. Branches may have fallen from heavy snow, leaving a mess in the yard. Keep everything neat and tidy.
The last thing you need is a potential buyer slipping on the ice-covered walk in front of your house. Buyers often consider those moments bad omens, and this can affect their decisions. Shovel, snow blow, spread salt—do whatever you have to do to keep the driveway and walking paths clear, and don't forget the porch and deck.
Make the Inside Warm and Cozy
In cold weather, buyers won't spend a lot of time examining a home's exterior. Instead, impress them with the inside by creating an atmosphere which causes them to want to move in.
When there's time, leave wintery types of snacks and drinks, such as hot cocoa and cookies, available on a table during showings. This gives your home a welcoming feel to buyers.
Light the fireplace (if you have one) for a lovely ambience and set your thermostat to a comfortable setting. A warm home in the winter is much more appealing than a chilly one.
Make Your Home Less Personal
Understandably, this can be a tough thought for homeowners. After all, you've spent years creating memories in your home. To buyers, though, they need to picture it as their own. Too much personality makes that difficult.
It's always important to stage your home in a way that makes it look clean, comfortable, and move-in ready. Don't feel offended by the idea of taking family pictures down and replacing them with generic décor. This will help your home sell faster by helping buyers envision their own things there.
Cleanliness and Maintenance
Clean, clean, and clean some more. Make appliances, counters, and floors shine. No matter how old your home is, it needs to feel like new to potential buyers. If you aren't into dusting, now is the time to try. Don't forget window coverings that might need washing.
Be prepared ahead of time for home inspections by taking care of maintenance now. HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical should all be up to code and running smoothly.
Use these tips for selling a home in the winter, exercise patience during the slower months, and your home will sell before you know it.
Entering your 20s means you'll quickly need to learn how to navigate the world of personal finances, much of which you probably didn't learn in college or high school courses.
Without any previous lessons on finances, it can be challenging to know where to start. Follow this guide as we outline the financial decisions you'll need to make in your 20s.
Setting a Budget
The first step to being a fiscally responsible young adult is setting a budget. Your budget will determine many future financial decisions, from where you can live to what splurges you can make. Look at the expenses you currently owe every month and your projected income to determine how much you should be spending on bills, daily expenses, etc.
Getting rid of your debt as early as possible is a critical step for newly independent 20-year-olds. However, some may not be able to get rid of debt as soon as they hope. Once again, look at your budget, then decide if you'd like to put more toward tackling debt now or pay your loans as they come.
While you may be able to hold onto your parents' insurance until 26, you'll have to choose your own plans sooner or later. From health insurance to renter's and car insurance, you shouldn't skip an opportunity to cover yourself in the case of an accident. Find a provider and plan you're comfortable with, and get your coverage as soon as possible.
Saving for a Rainy Day
Navigating how to save is another critical financial decision you'll have to make in your 20s. Living paycheck to paycheck is not a sustainable course of action. Even putting a small portion of your wages into a savings account can make a big difference—especially if an emergency you didn't prepare for occurs.
Starting To Invest
Investing is a scary topic for young adults, but it's a great way to build wealth. Starting to invest as a young adult will set you up for success on your long-term financial plan. However, be sure to conduct research before jumping into the market to decide when, where, and how much you'd like to invest.
Your 20s are an optimal time to learn and grow. One area of life you'll undoubtedly learn a lot about is managing finances. Use this guide to help you get started on the path to becoming a fiscally responsible adult.
Tax deductions can be tricky to understand if you're new to the finance world.
One of the biggest sources of confusion is knowing what you can and can't deduct from your taxes. Deductions can be a massive financial boon for a lot of people, yet not everyone files for them correctly. This causes people to miss out on money that should be theirs. We'll go over some of the most common tax deductions that are overlooked, so you don't get shortchanged when Tax Day comes.
When you start regularly giving to charity, even if the donations are small, you'll want to start getting itemized receipts for your donations. These receipts will help you write off these charitable contributions on your taxes. You can even write off supplies that you bought for use in a charitable cause or any miles you drove on your car while in service to a charity. Make those donations to the Purple Heart Pickup with an open heart, but make sure you get your deduction on top of that.
Student Loan Interest Payments
Student loans take up a significant amount of a lot of people's money. If you're one of these people, make sure that you get a deduction on the amount of interest you paid off in the last year. What's important to remember is that even if you aren't someone's dependent, you can write off the money someone else gave you to pay for said student loans. If someone else helped you pay off part of your loan, don't think that means you can't still get a deduction on that sum.
Child and Dependent Care Credit
If you have a reimbursement account through your job that pays for child or dependent care, you might be forgiven for forgetting about this particular tax credit. However, you can use these funds for a tax credit if you file for them correctly. This is hugely important because this is an opportunity to receive a full tax credit, not just a deduction. You're losing money you could be directly receiving if you don't file for this credit.
Jury Pay Given to Your Employer
A lesser-known tax deduction that often gets overlooked is the money you can deduct from jury pay you gave to your employer. It may not be the most exciting thing to come out of jury duty, especially after handing over any money you receive to your employer, but you do get to deduct however much money your employer made you hand over after you finished jury duty.
Credit for Saving
While this credit is more for people that are working part-time or for those that have a retired spouse, you can get a tax credit for contributing to a 401(k) or another retirement savings plan. This is also a great incentive for those that are just starting out in their careers and need another reason to start saving for the future.