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This Laundry Strategy Saves Me Hundreds of Dollars a Year on Kids’ Clothing

A parent holding a laundry basket in one arm and a child in the other while another child grabs their leg.

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In the grand scheme of having to clothe a trio of kids, I have it easy. My children, for the most part, aren’t particular about clothing brands, so it’s not like I’m constantly having to explain why they can’t have $90 sneakers or a $75 sweatshirt.

But still, I can’t exactly send those little beings out into the world naked. So every year, I’m forced to open up my wallet and purchase clothing to replace the items they’ve recently outgrown.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t invest a lot of money into my kids’ clothing on a piece-by-piece basis. The way I see it, why spend $30 on a pair of jeans my kids might outgrow in nine months when I could buy a cheap $12 pair instead?

And also, at times, I have splurged on the more expensive version of whatever kids’ item I was buying only to find that it wasn’t any higher in quality than the low-cost version. So at this point, it’s $5 T-shirts for everyone.

But even though I don’t spend a ton of money on kids’ clothes on a per-item basis, it’s a big expense in my budget nonetheless. And I try to do what I can to minimize the amount I have to spend. To that end, I’ve adopted a laundry strategy that makes my life a bit more miserable but is definitely a big source of savings.

When it’s worth it to do the extra work

Like I said, kids’ clothing is generally made pretty poorly. In fact, part of me is convinced that manufacturers add special materials that are expressly designed to ensure that every single item you throw into the dryer shrinks to the point of being unwearable.

In the past, I’ve had situations where drying a shirt or pair of pants once causes the item to shrink. And I do read the instructions on the labels, most of which say “tumble dry low.” That’s a load of bull. “Tumble dry low” is really just code for “Say goodbye to this outfit and go buy a new one.”

So now I hang my kids’ clothing on drying racks rather than throwing items into the dryer. Does doing this suck up more of my time? Yup. But does it save me hundreds of dollars per year? Also yup. So I’m willing to do the work to free up more cash for my savings account.

And it’s not just the money. It takes time to find clothing that fits my kids. So when I find something that works, I want to keep it around as long as I can. And I’m willing to spend an extra hour or so per week hanging clothing to dry to spare myself the expense and the hassle of buying replacements.

Sometimes, your time is worth more

As a self-employed individual, I’ll admit that there are plenty of household tasks I outsource to free up more hours to work. Sometimes I’ll order takeout if I have a lot of projects happening because even though I might spend $40 on a meal I could cook for $15, if it frees up an hour and lets me earn an additional $100, it’s worth losing $25.

There are times when I question my practice of hanging out my kids’ laundry because it really does eat into my work time to some degree. But in this situation, I’m not saving myself just money but also the time of not having to hunt down replacement items. So all told, this strategy makes sense.

Of course, the really neat thing is that my kids have finally reached an age where they can help with the laundry. So some weeks, I’m not the only one draping damp shirts over a drying rack — I have three helpers assisting with the process. And there’s really nothing more cost-effective than outsourcing household tasks to your kids so that you can spend more time working.

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