Setting up a Clothing Budget

girl's skinny jeansOMG! I was just going to buy these Vigoss Skinny Jeans for my daughter at JCPenny’s for $19.99 (org. $34.99). But found them on Amazon for $12.99! It pays to shop online (sometimes). They come in 3 cheery colors for this price: Paradise, Emerald Green, and Carribean. It’s all the rage with my 9 year old. :)

Lately, I have been feeling unbalanced in the war against debt. And I put the reason on school starting again. The high costs of clothing, bus passes, yearbooks, school pictures, fundraisers… you name it! And I wasn’t prepared this year. I was reading one of Brad’s (Enemy of Debt) many wonderful posts and asked him how he found the balance while becoming debt free.

I wrote:

[...] I am more amazed at the discipline you and your family put forth in not borrowing since January 2008!

I find it hard when raising teenage kids. Especially when it comes to buying school clothes. How do you find that balance of spending vs. savings? My kids need jeans and by no means do I buy expensive brands. Well, I guess that is why they call it a journey. Have any tips on finding that balance?

Brad wrote:

[...]The biggest obstacle to the things we want is often ourselves, which is why credit cards have become a crutch for almost everyone. I would say that the biggest, most important habit that must be changed is becoming an aggressive saver. Not in regard to just the emergency fund or nest egg, but for everyday needs with what is called sinking funds. I have not had to go through the teenage years yet with regard to buying clothing but I would suggest that you start now in establishing a “school clothes fund”, to help make your journey easier. Take what you spend each year on clothes for your kids and divide that amount by 11. Each month set aside that amount in a special savings account, and when next year comes you will already have the money needed to buy their clothes, and without the use of credit and interest. We use this method and it has made not using credit very easy.[...]

It was an upside kick in the head for me (in a totally good way). I already have that ‘summer’ savings fund through my credit union! It’s the one I have set up to automatically put $35 biweekly into the account. Which comes out to roughly $900 + for the year.

The original use of that summer savings fund was to pay for increase day care costs through the summer and back to school items. Now the current use is to fund increased day care costs and summer excursions. Which is completely fine with me (doesn’t hurt to have a bit of fun during the summer), but I threw out the notion that I need money for the kid’s back to school costs (embarrased to say that they are being charged on the Kohl’s credit card)!

Here is my solution

I am going to set up an additional $35 biweekly “school” fund in a savings account that is accesible throughout the year. Since kids grow out of their clothes every 3 months I need to beable to reach the account in need. This is a perfect solution to stay off the credit card path but take care of the needs of my children.

Thanks, Brad! (And congrats to the new bundle of joy on the way!)

Do you think $35 biweekly ($900+ a year) is a good amount for a school fund (clothing, year book, etc…) for a tween girl and a teen boy? Or should I increase it to $50 biweekly?

20 thoughts on “Setting up a Clothing Budget

  1. Ms. MoneyChat

    wow, i have no idea. i’m without kids so i don’t have any basis to say yay or nay. at first glance $900 seems like a lot but i know those little fees here and there can add up quickly. i say start w/the $35 and see how that goes. if you need to increase it at a later date, do so. the good thing is you won’t be starting at zero next time. something is better than nothing.

    Reply
    1. admin

      That is roughly $450 a year per each child or it would more of a 40/60 split.
      For instance, my son’s Yearbook is $75, bus pass is $220, shoes $60 – $90 per yr… my daughter is a bit less. Perhaps I need to do a cost analysis and see what was spend on the cards, as a whole, last year. Hmmm…

      Reply
      1. Ms. MoneyChat

        i still can’t get over the bus pass. wow. you very well could be underfunded with the $900. i still say starting with something is better than nothing. gosh, brad was right, this category definitely deserves it’s own “savings” account. did you mention before that the bus pass was due to the recession and state budget cuts? if so, albeit creative for the government but a nice inconvenience for the parents.

        Reply
        1. admin

          Yes, the bus pass is due to all that. They just sent me a bill, too. “Pay me more money!”, it says. lol. Cha-ching (x2)

          I’m beginning to think it might be underfunded, too. But better to start with something than nothing. After all this time budgeting, the categories I need to save for are finally coming into perspective.

          Reply
  2. the Dad

    I’m glad you posted this. Mine started Kindergarten this year and I was TOTALLY unprepared for how much it was going to impact our budget.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Thank you. It’s crazy how expensive it can get! My word of advice as they get older, “Just be prepared!”. ;)

      Reply
  3. SS4BC

    Man, I don’t have kids so I have no idea how much to pay for their clothes.

    That said, I have set up my own account for ALL yearly expenditures that I contribute to every month.

    So anything that happens once (or twice) a year without fail gets saved for (and paid for) monthly. I do this with Christmas, haircuts, professional memberships, car registration, ect. So if you have to buy clothes once to three times per year, it only MAKES SENSE to set up an account for this so you don’t get bombarded with it all in one month.

    Reply
    1. admin

      That is pretty good to be in sync with what you need to save for the year. I need to do that, too.

      With that being said… how much do you think you put away for clothes a year? or spend per year?

      Reply
      1. SS4BC

        Ummm…. I’ve bought around $300 worth of clothes this year. But the only reason I know that is because I put them on Express and Limited cards and had to pay them off. =)

        I’m trying >real< hard not to buy any clothes for the rest of the year. But stores keep tempting me. ;)

        Reply
        1. admin

          Hence the first rule – stay out of areas that will tempt you ;)

          And throw away sales ads immediately. lol.

          TY 4 the #s! I like to get a ballpark figure.

          Reply
  4. The Lost Goat

    I don’t know what you spend, but my recollection from being that age is that no amount could possibly be enough to buy everything that your pre-teen and teenager desires. So you might as well figure out what your family can afford and keep them within it, as they’ll just push for more wherever the line is (or maybe I was just particularly greedy).

    Even so, $900 seems a little on the short side to me. Just thinking about my own clothing costs (I buy at Wal-Mart, thrift stores, and second hand) I would be hard pressed to stay within that budget if you include all the non-clothing school-related expenses that I remember incurring. But I don’t have any kids, so my advice is worth what you paid for it.

    Reply
    1. admin

      LOL. You have quite a valid point there. :) My daughter especially fits into this category. Last weekend, I took her to girl’s day at the mall and if she had a credit card, it would have been maxed to limit x2! lol. “I want this” “Oh how pretty”, etc., etc., etc…

      And I buy modestly only Khol’s or JCPenny’s. If the kid’s name brands don’t exist at that particular store… Too Bad! So far, its been okay. The haircuts are done at Great Clips (local chain store place), shoes are bought at Payless, school office items are normal no frills kind of items… But I think you’re right. I need to push it up a bit. Maybe allotting $65 per month. I will have to analyze the current expenditures to get a clear picture, I think.

      Thank you for your thoughts. I am getting some great feedback.

      Reply
  5. Brad

    Money Funk – Awesome post! I am glad that you were able to take something I wrote and apply it to your own situation. You have a plan, and when next year gets here you will be able to handle it with NO PROBLEM at all. That will leave you more time to enjoy the process that is “school shopping”. I remember all so well how stressed my mother used to be when that time of year came.

    To figure out how much you will realistically need next year, you could ask yourself these questions:

    Did I spend too much or not enough this year?
    Did I shop for bargains and deep discounts?
    Did I avoid impulse spending?
    Did I buy more NEEDS or WANTS?

    If you spent $900 then take that number and add to it or take from it depending on the answers to the questions above.

    Good luck and I would love to hear how this turns out for you.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Once again…. some fabulous feedback! :) I can’t wait to be ready! And you’re right, school shopping won’t be a stress factor. That will be nice.

      This year we did really good at not impulse buying. The kid’s also got one pick for frilly office item (design notebook, cool pencil case) – my daughter’s was a $6 item (so not too frilly costing – I like that). We also shopped on coupon’s – I had a 30% off at Kohls. So we did good. I think what I didn’t prepare for was how fast these kids grow!

      I went thru my daughter’s jeans at the start of school and ALL of them were too small. LOL. Definitely, preparation needs to be key this upcoming year!

      Thank U!

      Reply
  6. Sharon

    This is one budget area I have no clue what I’m going to spend. It’s different every year. I think I may have to do a little financial project to figure out how much I do spend on clothing every year. Last year, though, was not the norm as I lost weight and needed a whole new wardrobe. This year should be a lot cheaper!

    Reply
    1. admin

      A whole new wardrobe *dream* – nice.

      I know that I don’t spend nearly as much on me as I do my kids. This year I did treat myself to a couple new outfits. Actually I don’t think it was a treat, but needed. lol.

      My kids… I will have to project what i think they need: 2 pairs of shoes, 5 jeans, etc… and price it based on that.

      Congrats on the weight loss and maintaining. You look great!

      Reply
  7. jpkittie

    wahoo – what a fantastic idea! i need to look into doing that too — i need to pull together a few ‘funds’ though… again – need to find that balance, you know?

    Reply
    1. admin

      I think finding balance is something that will always be a lesson, a journey. We can do it jpkittie.

      And congrats on paying that card before the 0% APR expired! I am so behind. :( But I have resilence and will march back up to the ranks.

      Reply
  8. Viggies Veggie's

    Wow that is a lot! Growing up I clearly remember my parents spending $100 on each of us for school supplies and clothes. Times sure have changed.

    I’m a huge fan of special savings accounts. I’m lucky my employer has direct deposit options online so I can change and add to them anytime I want. I keep them at ING because it takes a couple days to transfer back to my bank for use, so by nature they have to be used for planned expenses.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Come to think of it I didn’t have that much either. I think it was $250 for clothing and supplies.

      I used to have multiple savings accounts which was nice for a while, but then too much for me to track (enjoy simplicity in a complex world). :) Although, I do like the sound of the ING account due to the fact that you have to really think about your purchases because it take a couple of days to process. Hmmm….

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Reply

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