Last week, I talked about why you need a clothing budget. This week, I thought I’d break it down a little more and discuss some ideas on how to determine what your clothing budget should actually be if you are just getting started. There are lots of things to consider, so let’s jump on in!
When talking about an actual dollar amount, it can be hard to determine where to begin. According to Dave Ramsey, one should allocate 2-7% on the clothing budget. I respect him quite a bit, so I’d say it’s worth at least giving his suggestion a try. When you are thinking in terms of your monthly take-home pay, that is actually a pretty wide range. Here are some things to consider when setting your budget.
Who you are outfitting
You must consider the number of people that you are trying to clothe. The larger the family, the more likely you might need to be on the higher end of that range. If it’s just you, then you might not need to allocate as much.
What your clothing needs are
You must also consider what your needs are when setting up your clothing budget. First, consider your occupation. Do you work in an office setting or do you work from home? Or perhaps you will be wearing scrubs to work or need to wear a business suit everyday? Depending on what you do for a living, your clothing needs will be different.
Also, it’s important to think about climate. Depending on where you live, you may need a lot of extra clothes for certain seasons (winter gear for really cold winters) or you may not need many clothes for other seasons (like if you practically live in a swimsuit during the summer months). It helps to think through all the types of clothes you wear during the year and how you might need to factor that into your budget.
Lastly, consider your leisure activities. Do you have certain hobbies that might require new clothes from time to time? If you work out a lot, then you’ll need to keep that in mind when putting money aside for clothing each month.
It’s important to evaluate the priority you put on clothing. Some people really enjoy shopping and purchasing clothes. If this is important to you, then take that into account. On the other hand, your family might not care as much about clothing, but would rather put your money aside for travelling, vacations, or eating out. Just think through what priority you put on clothing. While it is still a necessity that should be budgeted for, some people value it more than others and this might need to be reflected in your clothing budget.
How tight your budget is already
While a 2-7% range is a great starting point, at the end of the day, you may need to determine your clothing budget based on what money you have left after you have paid your bills. Although it’s still a necessity, it’s a category that may need to “flex” more depending on how the rest of your budget looks for a particular month. There are some months when we have to reduce our clothing budget because other things needs to get a larger “slice” of the overall budget.
If you are budgeting for clothing each month, then you will accumulate a little stash so that you still have money when clothing needs arise, even if it’s during a month when you weren’t able to allocate as much.
How it works for us
In all honesty, I’m not real methodical about our clothing budget and don’t necessarily go by a certain percentage. During this season of life, our budget is very lean, so I just make sure to put at least a little bit aside each month (typically it’s at least $50) and it can depend on what other expenses we have for the month. I usually put more aside in the fall and spring when I head to consignment sales for the kids or during months when I know we need certain items, but I’ve been doing a better job of keeping my eyes peeled all year round so that I don’t have to fork out larger chunks during specific months of the year.
Next week, I’m planning to talk about ways to help you stick to your clothing budget. If your clothing budget tends to be leaner, you may have to get more creative when it comes to finding clothes that you need that are affordable.
How do you determine how much money to budget for clothing?
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