How Much Money Do Parents Spend on Their Kids' Clothes?

Mother and daughter shopping for clothes
Families spend an average of 6 percent of the family income each month on clothing for the children. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

One of the responsibilities of a parent is to properly clothe a child. American parents have a wide variety of options that range from basic attire to designer duds for kids. The choice of clothing and of how much to spend on each child typically depends on a few factors. The size of the household, the family's income, the age of the child and the need for special clothing for extracurricular activities all have an effect on the amount of money that parents spend on each child's clothing.

Influence of Income

The University of Minnesota Extension found that the household income and size both greatly affect the amount of money that parents budget for clothing each month. The cost of clothing is considered a necessary cost of child rearing; however, it is a cost that ultimately differs according to the family's disposable income. Parents with higher incomes spent more money on their children, as expected, and parents who earned lower incomes spent less money on their children. Surprisingly, single parent households with teens allocated more money to clothing each month than two-parent households.

Age Spending Differences

The University of Minnesota Extension found that parents spent more money on older kids and teens than infants and toddlers. Lower-income families spent an average of $28 per month on infants and toddlers (ages 0 to 2) in 2007, while teens in similar income-earning families saw an average $52 per month in clothing allowances. Upper-class families allocated an average of $44 per month to infant and toddler clothing in the same year and $78 to teen clothing allowances.

Sports Spending

Parents of children who are of the age to play sports can add another $671 per year to their average clothing costs, according to a 2010 survey by Retail Me Not, as reported by Forbes. The survey found that parents of football players spent the most money on clothing and attire for the sport, while hockey parents spent the least. About 21 percent of parents surveyed stated that they spent more than $1,000 per year per child on sports clothing and gear.

Other Considerations

The 2010 Expenditures on Children by Families report compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that clothing costs took up an average of only 6 percent of the family income — the least amount after healthcare (8 percent) and miscellaneous spending (also 8 percent). When considering the costs of clothing a child, parents can begin by allocating 6 percent of their income to clothing. They can raise the allowance or lower it as needed when buying clothes for the children.

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