Cut down on kids' clothing expenses

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Kids can be expensive. Before a child turns 18, parents can expect their tab to be in the neighborhood of six figures, and that’s before college even begins.

While healthcare, food and schooling may account for a good portion of those expenses, clothing purchases over the years add up, too. Kids grow quite rapidly, meaning that clothing that fit last month may not fit the next. Parents looking to trim clothing costs can consider these suggestions.

* Swap clothing with friends. Become friendly with parents of similarly aged children and accept hand-me-down clothes when offered. Solicit family members to see if they have items that are in good condition that can be put to use. Many times others will have new clothing — even pieces with tags still attached — because their own children outgrew the items before they could be worn.

* Consider consignment shops. Consignment shops sell gently worn items at a deep discount. Such shops prove a good resource for individuals facing tight budgets.

* Shop the discount stores. Younger children may not know the difference between designer brands and store brands. It’s possible to get quality items from chain stores for good prices. Even warehouse stores often sell clothing in addition to food and household goods. They may actually carry brand-name items at slashed prices.

In addition, consider close-out type establishments that have an inventory of clothing similar to that of more expensive department stores. Because it was bought in bulk or is last-season’s items, the prices are generally lower.

* Become a retailer regular. If there is a particular store that the family likes, sign up for that store’s credit card and coupon mailer. A “member” could get discounts that are otherwise unavailable to non-members.

* Work in a clothing store. Employees who work in a store often get an employee discount that could be anywhere from 20 to 40 percent off the retail price of items. Parents can certainly work in a store for the discounts, but it’s also an idea for teenagers who want to earn money and save on their favorite brands.

* Don’t forget about layaway. Many stores are bringing back layaway. That means that for a small fee, a person can put clothing aside and make interest-free payments until the purchase is paid off.