Having fun, aren’t we, with this back-to-school shopping? Okay, maybe not the best joke ever, but I’m trying to make the best of it and stay positive. Wouldn’t all you parents agree with me when I say that clothes shopping for your kids is one of the top stress-causing parental duties? You know how it goes: They hate everything you love…you hate everything they love…nothing fits right and the store doesn’t have more sizes…there are long lines for the fitting rooms…long lines for the register…everyone is hungry…someone has to go to the bathroom…and, of course, the chunk of money you part with if you’re even lucky enough to find something that makes everyone happy. I hate to paint such a nasty picture of this lovely family event, but it’s a fairly accurate description of the reality.
Let’s make it easier on ourselves this year with some of these tips I’ve put together to help us all save on back-to-school clothes. If your kids wear uniforms for school, you have half the battle conquered, since there are no choices to be made, but you still want to save some money and these tips should be helpful to you, as well.
- Talk to your kids to make sure you’re all on the same page. Let them tell you what they would like to have, and then you tell them what you’re willing to buy. Explain that you want them to be happy and feel good about how they look, but that you have a budget that you would like to stick to. Figure out ways to compromise before you go to the store to avoid meltdowns while you’re already shopping and everyone’s already feeling tense.
- Just like with the school supplies, start by taking inventory of what you already have and you might find that a lot of what’s in the closet is still good. Try on clothes from last year; things like cardigans, tees, and polos often fit for more than one season, so hold on to them and save your money for when you really do need new sizes. Pass down outgrown clothes to younger siblings if the clothes are still in good condition. They may not be so thrilled about that, so make it up to them with new accessories, or some other small things that will help them feel like they have something new that’s all their own.
- If there’s no one in your house to pass clothes down to, host a clothing swap with friends or other families in your neighborhood. That way everybody gets something new. This is also a great way to prevent closet clutter.
- If you need to buy new clothes, try shopping in resale or consignment stores. Make some extra money in the bargain by selling your old clothes!
- Look online and in your local papers for coupons that can help you save on new clothes. A lot of retailers also run special sales and promotions on back-to-school clothes this time of year.
- Register for frequent shopper rewards. Lots of stores have them and you’ll make good use of them if you tend to shop in the same stores often.
- Save some money and be creative with some of your older clothes. Use patches to cover up holes and stains on clothes that still fit and are still good otherwise. Have fun and use your creativity to put your personal touch on those things and you’ll have clothes that are unique. You can also do wonders with some skillful tailoring, so think before you decide that something is not good anymore.
- Don’t think that you need to buy an entire fall/winter wardrobe. You can buy some basics that you really need now, and wait for things to go on sale later in the season. Keep in mind that the weather is still warm and will be for the next few weeks. Your kids won’t be wearing warmer clothes right away, so you might be better off buying summer clearance items now that you can layer as it becomes cooler.
I think these are all good ideas that should help, but I have to confess that my favorite is #8. Who wants to wear fall clothes now, anyway? I know I’m planning to wear my flip-flops until I really can’t anymore, and layering is a fun way to spiff up your wardrobe and change up your outfits. Everyone knows that’s what all the cool kids are doing!