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How to Save on Back to School Clothes Shopping

Thinking about back to school clothes shopping? It can get expensive! Use these tips to save money on kids clothing this season.

Save on kids clothing

More often than not, my kids are dressed cuter than me. Sounds expensive, right? Except that I can likely count on one hand the number of clothing items in their closets I have paid full price for. Here are a few tips for clothing your children in the brands you love while saving money:

Save money on back to school clothes shopping

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1. Create a “needs” list

Before back to school season, I sit down with each child and go through their drawers and closet to see what they have and what they need. Then, we make a shopping list. 

When you know exactly what your child has, you won't buy duplicate items or buy too many items for them to wear. It's also a great way to teach your kids how to match up tops and bottoms. For example, we talk about buying jeans or khaki-colored shorts and pants since they go with all kinds of tops.

Once we have the list, we stick to it! Once we started using this system, we stopped having the problem of too many shirts and not enough pants.

Save money on back to school clothes shopping for kids

2. Buy for another season

That “needs” list is helpful here, as well. Don't just make the list for the current season. Think ahead for winter weather–do the kids need new boots or winter coats

If you are shopping for a tween or teen, it can be pretty easy to shop ahead for next spring. Pick up a second hoodie in a different color, or go up a size in shorts to account for growth over the next two seasons. Then you can hit up the End of Season sales happening in late summer and store those items for next year.

3. Shop yard and consignment sales

For years and years now, I've talked about how I bought and sold at consignment sales to save money on kids' clothing. If you have the time, it is usually worth the effort. You can find so many items in excellent condition at a fraction of the store prices.

I've also shopped many yard sales over the years. Every once in a while, you get lucky and find great clothing at ridiculous prices. Just last month, in fact, I picked up some t-shirts for one of my teen daughters for just 25 cents each!

Buy kids clothes at consignment sales to save money on back to school clothes shopping

4. Shop online

Coupon codes are your best friend – I very rarely shop without them. Free shipping is the other key for saving money. If you have to pay shipping, it’s probably not worth it.

5. Sign up for coupons and newsletters from your favorite stores

Store emails will often let me know when the best sales are coming. Many stores also provide email coupons which you can utilize in-store or online.

Back to school clothes shopping - saving on kids jeans

6. Ask for a price adjustment

It’s always worth asking! If an item you purchased goes on an even bigger sale within a week, call and ask for a price adjustment.

That's one of the reasons I like shopping at Target. I love that you only have to bring in the receipt (not even the clothing) to have the price lowered with their price match guarantee.

7. Spend less on basic pieces

Kids have basic items that they wear a lot–like tee shirts and socks. Consider buying non-name brand versions of these items. If you spend less on the basics, you’ll have a little more money to spend on items that will mix and match with them.

When the kids and I shop using their shopping lists, I encourage them to use more of our clothing budget on the items that need to be more durable, like shoes. But then with dress shoes and clothing that isn't worn often, we can spend less.

How to save money on childrens shoes

8. Buy play clothes and “nicer” clothes

Clothes last longer if they don’t get washed as much or played in, so we try to keep the nice clothes nice and buy that we don’t mind as much if they get muddy, wet, or generally trashed.

This is one of the benefits to kids wearing school uniforms. They learn to come home and change into “play clothes.” A lot of adults do this, too!

9. Wait

One habit I've worked hard to teach my kids is to wait. Instead of impulse buying–like that dress you just LOVE but then never wear a single time–just wait. Slow down. Look at that list again. Or head home and re-evaluate the closet. Now do you need it?

I've also taught them that you can make returns if you have buyer's remorse. Model smart shopping behavior for your kids so that once they're spending their own money, they can do so responsibly.

We also talk a lot about how companies use sales, promotions and commercials. They want you to buy NOW! But you're the one in charge. Sales come back around, on a cycle. It helps to be patient.

During back to school season, the hyped-up message is to buy it all right now, but you don't have to!

10. Sell clothes when you’re finished with them

This has been key for me with three kids! Selling clothing after the kids have outgrown it is one way to recoup some of your cost. Consider second-hard stores, local area resales, or garage sales (both at your home and online) as venues for selling.

By sticking with great-quality brands like Lands End over the years, I was able to purchase at low prices (using numbers 4 & 5 from this list) and then resell at my Multiples Club's consignment sale.

Patience and a plan are two major keys to save money on kids clothing. I hope these 10 tips will help you this back to school season!

Looking for more ways to save?

How to prepare for Back to School on a budget

Preparing for School on a Tight Budget

Shopping smart at Lands End

Ways to shop smart at Lands End

It's that time of year again! There's no reason to let Back to School season bust your budget. Not only is it a great time to save while shopping, it's also one of the best times of the year to teach kids some basic money management skills. Take this opportunity to include the kids with these 7 Ways to Save Big on Back to School.

Save on back to school shopping

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