9 Tips For Back To School Clothes Shopping

Back to school clothes shopping can be stressful. This is especially so if you don’t like shopping, you have picky kids, your budget is super tight, or all of the above. The whole process is expensive, energy draining, and time consuming. You have to try to figure out what supplies they need and then deliberate with your kids on what styles are “in” and or acceptable for that year, let alone affordable.

Thankfully, you can handle back to school clothes shopping without breaking the bank and still keep your kids happy.  Here are a few tips that my mom used and then my wife and I used as our kids were growing up.

First – Shop Their Closet

Take inventory of what clothes you child already has. Dig deep into the back of the closet, in the bottom of the toy box. Pull out that bottom drawer that won’t close all the way and get the shirt that is stuck in that dead zone. Check under the bed and everywhere. See what still fits and doesn’t have holes or stains in them. Although, I do see brand new jeans being sold with holes already in the knees. And they expect you to pay full price for damaged goods! Doing a thorough search will surface clothes that may have been hidden for a while and may still be wearable after a washing.

Prepare piles to be trashed, given to friends and family, and a pile to keep. Based off of what you keep you can then create an accurate shopping list of what your youngster really needs.

back to school clothes shopping

Second – Establish a Budget

Once you sit with your child and make out that list of what is needed or wanted, you also need to set a budget for how much you have to spend on the new wardrobe. Be honest with yourself and your child about how much you are willing and able to spend on this back to school clothes shopping spree. This is a great teaching opportunity with your child about living within a budget. Point out to your son or daughter that a designer pair of jeans from Macy’s may mean a a compromise on a not so flashy jacket. They need to understand that once the money is spent, the shopping stops.  It’s best that they learn this discipline while they are young.

back to school clothes shopping at macys

Third – Make a Shopping List

Now that your child understands the limits of the budget, it’s time to do some wardrobe analysis. Begin by laying out what is already in your drawers and closet.  Mix and match as best as you can.  See how many different combinations you can create. This will give you an idea of where you can benefit from the purchase of a few new items.  The goal is to list your needs before getting to the store. You want to avoid impulse buying.

Fourth – Hand Me Downs 

That’s what we called them. I had cousin about three years old that I was. My Mom would drive us to Tacoma a few times each year and sometimes my aunt would have purged my cousin’s wardrobe. I was the beneficiary of what he had outgrown. I was thankful. Of course that saved Mom some money. Do you have friends or family who might want to give you things their kids have outgrown? It doesn’t hurt to ask. This is not an ego thing. It is conservation of resources and recycling right?

Back To School Clothes Shopping yard sale

Fifth – Yard Sales

Yard Sales are a great option where decent clothes can be purchased for pennies on the dollar. We would also go to an annual clothing exchange organized by a church. It was basically a consignment arrangement with good quality clothing.

Sixth – Rich Uncles

Rich uncles. You got one? I did – sort of. His wife would pick me up in August a few years in a row when I was in elementary school. We’d spend an afternoon doing some back to school clothes shopping. Not everyone has a rich uncle of course. My point is that don’t be hesitant to accept a blessing that is being sent your direction. Accept graciously and don’t feel that there are any strings attached. If there are, then say thank you after you receive the gift and then cut the strings.

Seventh – Goodwill Industries

I am amazed at the explosion of the number of Goodwill stores around the country. I go in there regularly for odd items to use in magic show routines. They have racks and racks of clothing. Cheap too. It’s become fashionable, at least in Portland, to buy “retro” clothing from generations past. It’s in vogue to be able to say that you bought a pre-owned outfit that helps keep your carbon footprint smaller. Contemporary fashion and economic savings sound good to me.

back to school clothes shopping at goodwill

Eighth – Shop Online

It can be hard to do all your back to school clothes shopping online, but there are benefits. Shopping online can be done gradually and done from the comfort of your smartphone. There are some great return policies out there too.  Online retailers know that sizes can vary from one manufacturer to another so they make it easy to return items. Sometimes returns have free shipping if you use Amazon Prime. Also, some items don’t call for size considerations like backpacks, and school supplies. Save yourself some travel time and try online shopping.

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What strategies have you used to help economize on school clothes? Help others by sharing your wisdom. Let us know in the comments below.

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