Back to School Clothes on a Budget
It’s almost here again: Time for the kids to head back to school. But before they set foot on that school bus, you’ll most likely be heading to the local mall to outfit them for that first day. For moms on a budget, the back to school wardrobe can be a frightening prospect. Your kids and teens are begging for PINK, Hollister, and Under Armour, but your wallet wants to head to Wal-Mart. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your back-to-school buck while still giving kids what they want:
- Use this as an opportunity to teach budgeting skills. Tell your kids how much money you have to spend, and let them participate in the decision-making process. Even young children understand the concept of money. Older kids can be given a clothing allowance for them to spend as they wish. Anything they want over and above their allowance should be paid for by babysitting, mowing lawns, etc. Related discussion: Clothing Budget for Teen Girl
- Buy only one outfit to start with, saving most of your money for later on. Chances are your kids will come home from school having seen all the new trends they missed out on and wished they had. With money left over, they can get what they really want. Plus, retailers will start marking down their fall clothes after all the back-to-school shopping has died down a little. The best time to buy fall clothing is mid-to-late September.
- Shop all year long. Instead of buying your child’s school wardrobe all at once, update as you find the best bargains. Stores like Target and Old Navy are continually marking clothes down by 50-90%. By shopping clearance racks all year long, you will be replacing worn-out items at rock bottom prices.
- Shop thrift stores. Jeans, jackets, shoes, and shirts can be found for $1-$5 per item at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Many times shops like these even have half-price or bag days where you can save even more. If you shop frequently, you most likely will be able to find the brand names your kids are looking for.
- Shop resale and consignment. Stores like Plato’s Closet are great to check. They specialize in the desired brand names tweens and teenagers are searching for. Plus, they offer customers a punch card valid for 20% off their purchase when filled. Save this for big shopping trips! My daughter recently found Miss Me Jeans at Plato’s Closet for $60. We had saved our 20% loyalty card and got them for $48. Much better than the new price of $100! No one will ever know that their “new” jeans are secondhand!
- Check out eBay and Craigslist. Search for groups or “lots” of gently used clothing in your kids’ sizes. Or, use social media sites like Facebook that have local garage sale and trading groups. Post your “ISO” (In Search Of) lists and maybe another member will help you out.
- Shop during rewards periods. Stores like Kohls, Gymboree and Justice offer rewards “bucks” for shopping certain times of the year. Shop during those times, but focus on the clearance racks. Then, make sure you don’t forget to redeem the bucks you earn.
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