Part of the excitement of school starting each year for kids, is the new stuff they need. All the new clothes, new shoes, new book bags, lunch boxes and even new pens and pencils also adds financial stress to our checking accounts. The good news is, there are alternatives to spending an outrageous amount of money making certain our child's wardrobe is up to snuff. Here are tips on how, when and where to shop for back to school when you are on a budget.
- Never stop shopping for back to school merchandise. Buy when you see items on sale and pack it away until next year.
- Dive into the super discount bins at stores such as the Dollar Store, Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, CVS and Office Depot. You can find huge savings on notebooks, pencils, erasers, clips and even socks and underwear.
- Buy clothing off the final sale racks that your child can grow into, but avoid fashion trends. Basics rarely go out of style.
Shop the Outlet MallsShopping at the outlet malls for back to school clothing is an great way to increase how much you get for your money.
What you can expect to find:
- You will find many popular brands, including designer brands, at lower prices. Right off the rack, you can expect to save 20 percent at the very least. If you go during peak sale time and holiday weekends (like Labor Day) then you can look to save up to 70 percent.
- The regular stores which also have outlets send many of the past season's merchandise to the outlets. If you are looking for basics, such as khaki pants, cardigans, hoodies, polos, sweats, shoes and accessories you will be able to find a better a better selection of the drastically reduced items by shopping at the outlet store.
- Outlet stores are as promotional as the regional malls with coupons, bounce-back coupons, outlet mall customer appreciation programs and group discounts.
Department Store ShoppingStores like Wal-Mart, Sears and Target get aggressive with their marketing when back to school time rolls around. Each carry decent inventories in school uniforms, but they sell out fast. June and early July is the perfect time to go browse the sale racks, especially if you are not limited to buying just uniforms.
Organize a Swap MeetGet in touch with neighbors, friends and family who have young children and begin a swap group and have a swap party.
- Designate a time for everyone to meet. Each will be asked to bring their children's outgrown clothes.
- Separate the clothing by gender and size.
- Everyone, in order, may choose a piece of clothing from the pile. Then the next person goes, and so on, until all the desired pieces have been selected.
Consignment Shops and Thrift ShopsUsing consignment shops as a way to help with back-to-school expenses is a growing trend. Not only will you get back a percentage of the cost of the clothes your child has outgrown, but also the "slightly worn" replacement clothing you might find may be a pleasant surprise. Many of today's consignment shops only accept top-brand clothing in very good condition.
There is no reason to shy away from stores like Goodwill. Often retailers donate previous season clothing which was never sold to charitable organization like Goodwill.
Garage SalesGarage sales can be a fantastic place to find back-to-school supplies. Common items found at garage sales are children's book bags, lunch boxes, eraser boards, clothing and accessories. I have even found unopened packages of notebook paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners, notebooks and learning tools such as dictionaries and basic math books.
For the college-bound student, you can find new and used books, luggage, computers, calculators and other useful high-price items at one-tenth the original price.
Swaps, Auctions and Second-hand Stores OnlineDon't have much in the way of consignment stores or swaps where you live? Try browsing the online sites to broaden your choices.