It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on back to school clothing, especially if this is the summer your teenager shot up 3 inches and has outgrown all his pants! But you don’t have to blow your budget on back to school if you use some of these tips and strategies we’ve pulled together for your back to school clothes shopping.
1. Have a budget (and don’t get talked out of it!). Establish a guideline of what is available to spend and let your older kids in on it. If your teenager knows the $200 sneakers are not in the budget before you leave, you don’t have to have that conversation at the mall. On the other hand, if your teen had a summer job and/or has stashed some money away on their own, you can always give them the option of splitting the cost of those expensive shoes. If they decide they can’t live without the name brand, at least you’ll have some help with the cost.
2. Shop clearance. You can shop at the brand name department stores without paying full retail if you hit the clearance racks. If you have store coupons, you can rack up even more savings. Watch for advertised storewide clearance sales and inventory liquidation sales (where you’ll often see sale items reduced even more) to save big.
3. Hit the thrift stores. Many thrift stores have school clothing that’s in pretty good shape, since other moms tend to donate their children’s outgrown clothing around the same time you’re shopping for this year’s duds. Also, checkout eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other local discount venues such as consignment shops for back to school specials.
4. Shop online. Take advantage of online sales and enjoy the convenience of having the clothing show up at your doorstep. Who doesn’t want to avoid the malls if possible? Many online retailers offer deals that match those you can find in your local department stores and offer free shipping with a minimum purchase. In addition, you can shop the online version of your favorite department store and save a trip to the store that way.
5. Start off slow. Try purchasing just a few new items to supplement your child’s wardrobe and wait for the sales to finish your shopping. This way, your child can have new clothes to wear the first few weeks of school, and you’ll save on the overall cost of their clothes for the year.
6. Shop off season. By thinking ahead, you can save a lot of money by shopping for your child’s school clothing off season. Because stores regularly change their inventory, often in advance of the next season, you can pick up a winter coat on sale in January, for instance, when the store starts putting out spring items.
7. Participate in a clothing swap. Get together with friends who have school age children, see if you can look through their old clothes, and offer to let them take a look at your kids’ old clothes. Suggest that those involved in the clothing swap sort their boxes of clothing according to size and age. If it works well you can start an annual tradition, and the younger children in the group have a constant supply of gently used clothes in their sizes as they grow.
8. Don’t just shop at consignment stores, bring the clothing your child has outgrown and get cash back or store credit to use on new clothes for your kids.
9. Sign up for loyalty and rewards programs. Stores like repeat customers, so take advantage of any incentives to help reduce your cost when shopping for back to school clothing and shoes. Department store rewards programs will save you anywhere from 20% to 40% off your purchase.
10. Stack coupons. When ordering online, many name brand retailers such as Kohl’s, Gap, JC Penney, and Old Navy allow shoppers to use multiple coupons on a single order. This can add up to significant savings, and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home.