Buying school supplies may feel easy on the wallet once you start clothes shopping. It can get expensive – fast, especially when older children are involved. Young children often have very little concern about what they are wearing or where it came from allowing you to save money by shopping discount stores or inheriting hand me downs. Older children are usually not as open to the idea. Don’t let back to school shopping destroy your budget! Set boundaries especially if you have teens!
The first thing you must do is go through all of your child’s clothing. Set aside any items that are unwearable. If they no longer fit, donate them or try to resell them. If they are ripped or stained discard them or find another purpose for them. Once you have sorted out what clothing they have make an inventory. You’ll see what items they truly need instead of just what you think they need.
With older children set aside a budget that is just for them to do with as they choose. You can agree to purchase certain basic things for them but “their” money is for them to use for items they really want. If they decide to buy one expensive pair of jeans it’s their decision to make but be sure they understand there’s no additional funds once it’s gone. Not only will they learn about budgeting but also decision making and the concept of wants vs. needs.
Off Season Shopping
At the end of every season the previous styles go on sale to make room for the new supply. Take advantage of these sales to prepare for the next season. Many things never go out of style such as tank tops, tshirts, athletic wear and basic jeans or shorts. Buy winter clothes for next year at the end of winter. You’ll need to estimate how much your child will grow but if you keep the tags on, many retailers will give you at least a store credit if you return the item later. This is helpful especially if when the new year rolls around the item is too small for your child.
Outlet and Discount Stores
Outlet stores like Winners or TJ Maxx in the states or the outlet version of mainstream stores are a great way to get name brand clothing at a fraction of the price. Be sure to check out the clearance racks first and then move to the main supply. You’ll want to try everything on as often times clothing ends up in these shops because it’s sized incorrectly or may have a slight defect. However, the majority of clothing is simply overstock that hasn’t been sold or perhaps was purchased from another retailer that went out of business.
Here in Toronto, we have the outlet stores as well at the CNE, which can make for some interesting back to school shopping.
Discount or second-hand shops usually carry a good variety of clothing. In many instances you may discover clothing on the racks that still have on their original tags. It is possible to find amazing deals by shopping in these stores first.
If you’re really stretched thin there are still some ways to make sure your child is ready for the new year. Don’t shy away from accepting hand-me-downs from other family members who have children around the same age as yours. Often family would rather gift them that throw them away or donate them. If you have nieces or nephews that have outgrown clothing, consider asking their parents if you could have the clothing or sharing a bit about your situation if you’re too shy to ask outright.
Know how to operate a sewing machine? Make your children’s clothing. Fabric can be found inexpensively if you look around and you can let your children choose their own designs. This is also a helpful skill to make clothing you have go further. Hem up a pair of hand me down pants that are too long, patch holes, or cut pants or long skirts to make shorts or a shorter skirt. You might also consider hiring out your services this time of year to earn a little extra money from other parents looking to make use of clothing that needs a little tailoring.
A final option is to buy a little at a time. Don’t think you have to buy everything at once. Get the items they’re truly in need of immediately and then slowly add to their wardrobe as time goes on and you are able to find good deals.