New school clothes are a childhood rite of passage, making memories that last a lifetime. From buying shoes with Grandma to shopping for just the right first-day outfit with Mom, clothes can give children confidence to face new challenges.
But as the kids grow, so do the costs of their clothing and the number of accessories and requests for brand-name items they seem to want and need. And once they reach college, the term "wardrobe" becomes expansive and flexible, sometimes including dorm sheets, backpacks and other items.
The HelpMeSave Life Stages System actually offers multiple suggestions for a new school wardrobe savings plan.
1. For Parents of Small Children: Sending a child to kindergarten or preschool for the first time is bittersweet. It can also cost a great deal of both time and money, with long lists of supplies to buy and new schedules to be arranged. Allowing family and friends to assist with the costs of a new school wardrobe for a small child gets them involved while providing parents with the flexibility to buy the items they feel like their child needs. Grandparents and aunts and uncles often enjoy buying children clothes for milestones as a matter of course; inviting them to go shopping once your savings goals have been met can be a nice way to help them feel involved.
Recommended savings goal: $250-$500.
2. For Young Savers: It's a fact that kids love accessories. From jewelry to high-priced athletic shoes, 'tweens, preteens and teens often have expensive taste. Because retailers know this age group is brand conscious, they compete for this lucrative market with items that are mid-priced but far from inexpensive. Allowing these younger shoppers to supplement a basic school wardrobe with higher-priced name-brand items by encouraging them to save to buy them can be a learning experience that's also extremely gratifying for the school-aged saver. Savings goals will vary, based upon the item or items chosen. But keep the final goal realistic and encourage your student saver to save on their own. Friends and family may wish to offer to match a child's contributions.
Recommended young-saver savings goal for a full wardrobe: $300.
3. For College Students: College students know what they like, and they usually have a good idea about what they need. Funds for college students may also go toward outfitting a new dorm room. As with young savers, offering to match contributions they make themselves can be a good system. While kids headed off to college seem grown up, even many adults struggle to save. Helping them learn to set money aside before they are truly living independently is an invaluable gift. As with younger savers, your savings goals will vary, based upon the item or items chosen, but older students should be able to contribute more.
Recommended savings goal: $500-$1,000.