For some parents, back to school shopping can be a nightmare, but we are here to tell you it doesn’t have to be! We offer some ideas on shopping strategies, parenting tips, and money saving tips for your back to school adventures!
1. Before you do any shopping, raid your child’s closet!
This allows for you to find what you want to keep and what you want to either throw out (worn and torn) or donate/sell (gently used). You also need to pick out the clothes your child simply doesn’t wear. TIP: To know which clothes they haven’t worn in a long time, at the beginning of the school year, put all the hangers on the rack backwards. If a hanger is still backwards by the time the next school year rolls around, you’ll know it is something you can donate or sell.
2. Make a list!
Just like grocery shopping, you don’t want to go into a store unprepared, as this usually leads to overspending and purchasing of items you don’t really need. Since you’ve raided your children’s closet, you should know exactly what you need. Write down the needs and sizes for each child.
3. Create a budget!
Be specific with your needs and realistic of what your child will want as well. To help with sticking to your budget, you can use an envelope budget system where you only bring cash. This will prevent overspending and also is a great opportunity to talk about money management with your children.
4. Swap, Donate, and Sell!
Before buying more items, you want to clean out the old! Nothing is more overwhelming them coming home with a bunch of new stuff and nowhere to put it. This leads to a messy room, and new clothes that get put in front of the old clothes. Then another year goes by and you have unworn clothes that could have been donated, swapped, or even sold!
Many sales happen before school starts during August, but the real savings begin after school starts, around October. If you can put back to school shopping on hold, definitely wait until the fall to buy new clothes. TIP: Avoid the back to school weekend crowds and pick a couple week nights after dinner to shop.
If your kids/teens are a bit pickier and want to buy brand name clothing, check out overstock stores, such as Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Maxx. These stores have amazing deals on name brand clothing, shoes, and accessories. TIP: Your kids will go to school the first week and want what all of the other kids have or realize that their power ranger shirt is no longer “cool”. Keep the tags on EVERYTHING until it is worn. This way, if your kid is really upset about a particular clothing item, it won’t remain unworn in the back of their closet and essentially be a waste of your money.
Ultimately, your kids are the ones wearing the clothes, they have to feel confident amongst their peers. It is important, as a parent, to talk with your child about how a person’s worth/character does not come from their clothing or appearance. However, as a parent, you must also be understanding that much of a child/teen’s confidence comes from their acceptance from their peers. You must compromise with your child and have these conversations about budgeting, acceptance, etc.
8. One-On-One Date!
Take this opportunity to have some one-on-one time with your child! Kids and teens might not always express interest in spending individual time with you away from their siblings, but what person wouldn’t want to be the “king” or “queen” of their day with mom or dad?! This also allows you to focus on this child and their particular needs and wants, instead of having to shop for multiple children at a time.
9. More Money Saving Tips!
Every parent knows that when their child has a birthday, the grandparents and parents of their friends always ask what to get the child. If your child has a birthday in the summer, this is a perfect opportunity to request back to school gifts! This can be specific clothing items, supplies, etc. IF your child’s birthday doesn’t happen to fall before school starts, ask for gift cards to the stores you frequently shop at for your child’s clothes. Most people will provide the item you request and then a toy. The child is happy and so is your wallet!
10. Dress Codes!
The worst thing that could happen on the first day of school is your child getting in trouble for breaking the dress code. Not to mention all of the clothes you just bought that they can’t even wear to school. Save your child the embarrassment, your time and money, and research your child’s school’s dress code in advance!