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mom and elementary school aged daughter back-to-school shopping

Back-to-school shopping isn’t just about school supplies. Purchasing new school clothes can take an even bigger bite out of the family budget. But you don’t have to go broke to make sure your kids look great for the upcoming school year. The following tips can help you get kids of all ages outfitted for the year and help you save money on school clothes.

Set a Budget 

As always, a successful money-saving strategy for saving on school clothes is to set a budget and stick to it. It’s a perfect opportunity to get the kids involved with the process of budgeting and making shopping decisions. Discuss how much is available for back-to-school shopping, what they need (or think they need) and ask for ideas about how they think they can make those dollars stretch as far as possible. Don’t forget to include non-clothing items in the budget, such as shoes, backpacks, and other accessories. And if your child plays sports that require special shoes and clothing, make sure they’re added, too.                         mom and elementary school aged daughter back-to-school shopping

Take Inventory

Before you set a back-to-school budget, take stock of what your kids already have. Take an afternoon to go through closets and drawers and get rid of anything that’s too small, stained, ripped or otherwise unwearable. Once you see what’s left, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to shop for. If kids are bummed about wearing last year’s clothes, give them the option of doing some (supervised) DIY alterations with fabric dye, patches, scissors and sewing.

Sell Old to Buy New

You know that closet clean-out we just mentioned? It could actually fuel your back-to-school shopping. The clothes that are too small but in otherwise good condition can be sold on consignment, and the money (or store credit) you make can be used toward shopping for new school clothes.

Shop with Discounted Gift Cards

Doing your back-to-school shopping during sales helps you save, but you can save even more if you pay with discounted gift cards. A quick search of Gift Card Granny shows Old Navy gift cards selling for more than 10% off face value (for example, a $200 gift card is selling for $178) and Target gift cards selling for 5% off. There are cards from thousands of other retailers available. This strategy will take a little pre-planning, but it’s worth it to stack the savings.

Shop Thrift or Consignment Stores

If you’re really trying to stretch your back-to-school shopping dollars, shopping thrift or consignment stores is a great way to save money on school clothes. Kids outgrow clothing so quickly, much of what you’ll find will be in almost-new condition, not to mention, finding tags-on new clothing is not unheard of. Watch for special promotions, such as stuff-a-bag days, to save even more.

Offer Guidance

If you have teens who have been working all summer so they can buy their own school wardrobe, it’s still a good idea to set them on the right path. Work with them to set a budget and have a talk about wants vs. needs in relation to things like designer labels and pricey sneakers. Ultimately, it’s their money to spend, but if you can steer them away from costly mistakes, they’ll be able to save money on school clothes, too.

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