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12 ways to save money on back-to-school clothes

Suzanne Gardner | posted Friday, Aug 22nd, 2014

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Back-to-school shopping is often a source of dread for parents — mostly because they’re afraid of spending way too much money. It’s easy to go overboard once you hit the mall, but we want to help you keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your wallet! Before you hit the shops, check out our key ways to ease the burden on your bank account, while still getting the clothes you need.

1. Start by going through your child’s current wardrobe. This is the most important first step! Before doing anything else, go through your child’s closet and drawers to get a clear picture of what fall clothes they already have and what needs to be replaced.

2. Make a list — and stick to it! Now that you’ve gone through your child’s current wardrobe, make a list of what you need to buy to supplement their existing clothes. Whether you make that list on a piece of paper or on your phone, don’t stray from that list! Once you start doing that, it’s a slippery slope towards going way over your budget. And speaking of budgets…

3. Make a budget — and stick to it! Once you’ve made your list, you can figure out what your budget is. Some might find it easier to make an overall budget for your shopping trip, while others might prefer to break down the spending into categories such as shoes, shirts, pants, jackets, etc. To help you stick to your budget, try explaining to your child what your budget is and why, so that they might not bug you into buying that really expensive pair of shoes…well, it’s worth a try, right?

4. Spend more money and buy less often. This might sound counter-intuitive to saving money, but if you shell out a bit more cash for a better quality item, it’ll hopefully last a bit longer in your child’s closet. If you can, choose cotton over polyester, merino wool over acrylic, and maybe even get that sweater in a slightly bigger size so that your child will fit in it for another year!

5. Recoup your costs by selling good quality clothes. If your child has grown out of some clothes that are still in good, wearable condition, you can sell them to used clothing stores, consignment stores, or at a yard sale, as a way of making back some of your initial spendings. (Donating your child’s old clothes to a charitable organization is also a great idea!)

6. Host a clothing swap. Do you know a lot of other parents who might be looking to save a few bucks on new clothes for their kids? Host a clothing swap afternoon where parents can bring old, good quality clothes that don’t fit their kids anymore, and exchange them with someone else’s old gems!

7. Check out secondhand stores or thrift shops. Again, this is another great way to get some good quality, used clothes at a lower price. If you’re lucky, you might find some brand name pieces at discounted prices!

8. Buy later! Sure, you’ll want to get a few nice new items for your child for the first week back at school, but if you save the bulk of your shopping for a few weeks later, you’ll be able to take advantage of fall sales!

9. Put a limit on splurge items. If you’re bringing your child to the mall with you, it’s inevitable that they’re going to see a few really pricey items that they think they absolutely need to have. So before you hit the stores, tell your child that they’re only getting one or two splurge items — and stick to it!

10. Focus on basic, timeless pieces and only mix in a few trendy items per season. If you stock your child’s closet with a lot of jeans, khakis, basic tees and sweaters, a few new accessories can make the outfit look brand-new again.

11. Extend the season with layering items. A cute summer dress can be worn straight into fall just by adding leggings and a cardigan!

12. Keep an eye out for sales so that you can shop smart year-round. Don’t leave all of your back-to-school shopping for the end of August. Try to keep an eye on the sales so that you can take advantage of great deals all year round!

How do you save money on your back-to-school clothes shopping? Share your tips in the comments below!

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