Smart Ways to Save Money on Back To School Clothes for the Kids

school shopping

Back-to-school shopping – it’s not for the weak. I said this a few weeks ago on Facebook. My husband and I had already experienced a day of back-to-school shopping with our big girls. It’s our third year of it with our oldest, but she’s easy and so is shopping for one. Now she’s in second grade and our second daughter is in VPK. That meant we planned a date day with the big girls to shop for their new school wardrobe. The twins stayed with grandma and nana for the day and we took the girls to brunch, shopped and had a great day. It was a madhouse. But they got all that they wanted, more than they wanted and we came home with much lighter pocketbooks. Fast forward a week to the evening we went to back-to-school orientation for the girls at their respective schools and received their supply lists.

I decided to conquer those on my own while daddy stayed home with the kids. That was a wise decision. The stores; they were full. The people; they were confused. My second grader’s back-to-school supply list included everything from ear buds to baby wipes and cost me $400 to purchase. Well, it cost me $200 but I purchase two of everything because I grew up with a teacher for a mother and I know that for every one child who brings their supplies to school, there are four or five whose parents do not even bother. I like to help make up for some of those. But still; it’s expensive. And with all that we have to spend on back-to-school supplies, clothes should be as inexpensive as possible. That’s where these tips come in handy.

Save it for tax-free weekend

Does your county have a tax-free weekend? Ours does, and it’s a great way to save money. It might not seem that way off the bat, but when you aren’t paying sales tax on the things that you need, it’s actually going to save you a bundle of money. We like to school shop earlier than this to beat the crowds, but since we don’t get supply lists until orientation, we always have to buy the supplies during tax-free weekend and it is a money-saver. You can do the same with clothes and shoes if you are willing to wait, too.

Don’t go by posted supply lists

When our daughter began kindergarten, we made the mistake of buying all her school supplies early. There was a list posted in the store with the supply lists from all the local elementary schools listed by grade, and we used that. It turns out that her actual list from her teacher included half of what was on the posted list at the store and we ended up spending far more than we wanted to on her school supplies since we bought so much we did not need on our first trip. Wait until you have the official list from the actual teacher with whom your kids will be in class. It’s a money-saver.

Shop online

Some people don’t remember that the internet is an amazing way to shop when it comes to clothing for kids going to back to the classroom. I like to shop online for things that I’m aware of, such as new shorts and basics for my kids. In fact, I just scored 43 pieces of clothing online at Old Navy for my two girls, and that includes dresses, skirts, shirts, sweaters, pants, leggings, shorts and everything in between. I paid $167 for all of it since I shopped during one of their 40-60% off everything in-store sales and received a coupon for 30% off my additional order. It was a nice score for us.

Shop the sales

One of the other things we like to do is head out for sales in the store. We love Nordstrom, and the anniversary sale is a great time to do back-to-school shopping for our kids since most everything in the store is already on sale. It means quality clothing for our kids at prices that are so much more acceptable of small kids.

Shop in bulk

When it comes to supplies for the classroom, warehouse stores are a good idea. You might not need ketchup in bulk, but pencils and paper are a different story. If you end up with more than you actually need, fear not. You can always give that to your kids’ teachers and make their classroom a little bit more effective for your own kids. You can even save these things for the next year. There is never such thing as too many folders or pencils, after all. That’s one of the things that we love most about shopping for school supplies; you buy too much and you get to save it or donate it and feel like a good person.

Use your coupons

Some people forget that coupons are effective in more places than just the supermarket. Never buy anything, especially online, without first checking for things like a coupon code. You will find that these are almost always available. For example, stores such as Old Navy and Carters, Children’s Place and Gap Kids always offer coupon codes for online shopping that will provide you with a discount or even just the option to have things shipped free of charge. Never checkout without looking for a coupon first; it’s a huge money-saver.

Shop smart

Here’s something you never think of; break up your purchases and use online coupon codes more than once. For example, say a store is offering $5 off a $20 order. Break up your order into as many $20 increments as possible, use the coupon and save $5. If you have $100 worth of items broken down into 5 checkouts, you’re getting $5 off of every order for a grand total of $25 in savings instead of $5. Spend $95 or $75; it’s your choice. Just make sure when you do this that the cost of shipping is free on your purchase or it really does not work out.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


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