Clothing Budget

You know the clearance racks are just too good to pass up. Your eyes gravitate towards the denim, cotton, rayons, and knits. You run the textures between your fingers, and attractive designs fly off the rack to be examined. You picture yourself wearing it, feeling confident and looking great. The next thing you know, you're walking out with five new outfits for 60-80 percent less than what you would have paid full price. That's all well and good. The challenge is, is that this happens every payday (or more) for you.

image of a wallet locked down for clothing budget post

Your closets are overflowing at this point, as you swear, you're going to, honestly, truly for real this time, use them all for mixing and matching. We understand you're an expert at finding the best clothing deals in your local area. People should be paying you to help them save money!

In light of your monthly budget, are you saving money by doing this so often? We're willing to bet if you add everything up, the money you're cumulatively spending on these big blow-out sales is starting to add up and is taking you further away from your other important financial goals. 

How much does the average person spend on clothes?

The average person spends around $1800.00 on clothing in a year. Spending varies between households and how many of the members of the home are female. Women tend to spend nearly 80 percent more than men in many cases. Larger families spend more than a single-person household on average, and about 20 percent of the overall clothing costs are for shoes.

women with a piggy bank for clothing budget post

These numbers change if you add to the budget specialized pieces for work clothing. Everything can all add up from business casual, formal suits, and suit-skirt combos to required uniforms like scrubs for healthcare workers. The cost of steel-toed boots for people who need those on the job site is nothing to sneeze at. Any decent, durable, comfortable pair that will last longer than six months can be over $100.00 per pair. Knowing how much a person spends on clothing is the first step to understanding how to work a clothing budget into a regular budget.

What is the average monthly spend on clothes?

If the average yearly spending is around $1800.00 a year for a clothing budget, the average monthly expenditure is about $150.00 a month. The exact parallels hold as before; the average monthly spending for a woman will be more, and of course, more for people purchasing work clothing.

Many factors can determine how much a person spends on clothes each month. Clothing for women tends to be priced higher than men. Women generally buy more pieces; manufacturers must account for a wide variety of body shapes and sizes, including the fact that there are special shoes and accessories to add to and complement outfits. Periodically, an employer will require different shoes for the workplace, or there may be laundry mishaps that shrink or ruin clothing. These situations will also cause an increase in the monthly amount spent on apparel.

What is a good budget for clothing?

Experts recommend, wherever possible, that a total household not spend more than 50 percent of its take-home pay on living expenses. Living expenses include things like:

  • Rent or Mortgage (Lodging Costs)
  • Utilities
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Food
  • Car Insurance
  • Medical

Many other experts say that, ideally, no more than 30 percent of that 50 percent should be for housing, with the rest split up into different categories. Today, for many people, that idealization of a budget with that format is not entirely possible without other adults in the household also bringing in full-time wages.

For the clothing allowance, the typical starting number is 5 percent. For example, if you take home $3000.00 a month, theoretically, only $1500.00 should be used for total living expenses. In this case, the figures would then be $1500.00 x .05 = $75.00. If your setup uses the money left over, then it would be the same amount using this model. If your leftover funds only equal $500.00, then $500.00 x .05 = $25.00 a month, and so on.

The right amount of money to set aside for clothes is purely what you both feel comfortable with and allows you to stick to your other financial goals. If you're satisfied with it, you'll be more likely to stick to it. It might be $100, or it might be $500. It's all about finding out how much you spend now and then setting a budget that will allow you to save up for other goals while still being able to exercise your fantastic gift of deal-finding.

Why you need a clothing budget.

Being aware of your spending habits for clothing allows you to precisely know how much this spending is taking you away from other financial goals each month. Being objective about it, can you say you've met your financial goals of saving for or purchasing the vehicle or vacation you wanted yet? If you had spent less on clothing or other things this year, would you have been able to meet one or more of those financial goals?

If not, don't worry. We aren't here to judge you, just to help bring focus so you can have the best of both worlds. Working with your regular monthly budget and comparing that to the new clothing budget you're looking to add, do you see that it's possible to reduce your clothing spending each month to keep it within the new amount? Is it possible to readjust some of your budget categories to add more to the clothing budget to make you feel more comfortable?

By keeping a clothing budget, it allows you to meet your other financial goals. Not having a clothing budget increases the chances of you robbing yourself of future economic freedoms and purchases for which you've longed.

Regardless of the amount you've chosen, you can always find deals and get the things you want for less than the amount you've chosen. You just have to be willing to do some work by scouring clearance racks at stores (like we've already established that you're an expert at), getting your name put on waiting lists for new items before they're available in-store (this is also about timing), buying off-season or when it goes on sale and so many other tricks of the trade.

Once you've set a clothing budget, it's essential to stick with it. Make sure you do not go over the allotted amount for clothes each month. It is nearly effortless to spend more money on clothes than planned when there's no set limit in place. If you take these steps, your clothing budget will balance out over time, still allow you to ferret out the best clothing deals, and still allow you to shop as you please.


If you want to save up for your other financial goals, it's crucial to have a clothing budget. A clothing budget can help you save money in the long run by reducing impulse buying. Having a fixed number to work with each month lets you think about your clothing choices and forces you to choose more in line with your style. To top it off, if you do happen to score on one of those sweet, unadvertised sales you're so good at finding, you might just even be able to achieve more than you originally planned for, all while staying in budget. It may seem like hard work, but when you set yourself a realistic goal, stick with it, and meet those expectations, the money saved will balance over time. You've got this!