School is almost back in session and back-to-school expenses can really drain your finances if you aren’t careful and let them creep up on you.
Back-to-school outfits are probably one of the highest expenses you’ll have during this time of year if you’re a parent, but it doesn’t have to be. I actually like back-to-school clothes shopping because I know my limits and always stick to a budget which should be your first step.
Once you have a clear idea of how much you can spend, I’d encourage you to utilize these 5 tips to help you save money on much-needed back-to-school outfits.
1. Shop Used
The first thing you want to do is consider your gently-used options for clothing. I almost always head to Goodwill before a new school year starts to see what they have in my son’s size. Over the summer, I found 4 pairs of shorts for him and two shirts for a steal.
I’ve also found lots of brand name and durable quality clothing at Goodwill which is why I think it’s a winning option for anyone who lives near a chain location.
You can also check out the Salvation Army or any other thrift store in your area that has clothes. ThredUp is an online consignment shop that sells quality used clothing for kids and adults and they’ll actually buy your gently-used clothing.
Don’t forget about garage sales either. You can find tops and bottoms for as cheap as $0.50 each. Also, ask around to see if any of your friends or family members are giving away old clothing.
They may be going through their child’s wardrobe and realize they can’t fit certain items anymore. That’s when you can catch them before they sell or donate the clothes.
Shopping used and accepting hand-me-downs is the best way to supplement your back-to-school clothes budget and add more items to your child’s wardrobe for cheap.
2. Take Advantage of Labor Day Sales
Depending on when your child goes back to school, you might want to wait around for Labor Day retail sales to do your school clothes shopping. Around here, the kids go back during the 2nd or 3rd week of August. Labor Day is always early in September and either just a few weeks into school or in some areas, kids don’t go back until after Labor Day.
Tons of retailers will be having sales in honor of Labor Day so it’s a great time to go out and do your back-to-school clothes shopping and score some discounts.
If your kids go back to school in August and the weather is still really nice, you can send them back in their summer clothes to wear for a few weeks, then pick up fall outfits during the Labor Day sale.
3. Shop Online
If you don’t want to deal with busy stores and traffic during the back-to-school season, consider doing most of your clothes shopping online this year. This could also help you cut your expenses and better stick to your budget.
Sometimes, retailers offer exclusive deals and coupons to online shoppers, plus, you can get free shipping if you reach the minimum order requirement. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can get free two-day shipping on clothing and other items. When shopping online, I’m always much more conscious of what I spend because I always keep an eye on my subtotal.
Plus, I can shop from the comfort of my own home and don’t have to worry about my son asking for the cool new pair of expensive light up shoes.
Don’t forget, you can also check out online consignment shops like ThredUp to stretch your budget as well. They have a lot of cute options for kids. When you sign up for ThredUp using my link, you’ll get $10 to spend in the online store so you can score a free outfit for your child when they go back to school.
4. Use Coupons
Using coupons is another great way to save on back-to-school outfits and make sure your child has the clothing they need but at a discounted price. You don’t have to be a big couponer either because this time of the year only comes around once and you might as well saves as much as you can.
I know stores like Old Navy, Target and Kohls always have coupons for back-to-school clothes. Target actually has its own app called Cartwheel which allows you to pull up current coupons and apply them to your purchases. You can also check out coupon sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady or Brad’s Deals to find coupons from your favorite retailers.
If you’re shopping online, I’d highly recommend using Rakuten. It’s a free website that pays you cashback for the money you spend online on popular retailer’s sites and it also alerts you to coupon offers that you can apply to your purchases.
I use Rakuten (formerly Ebates) all the time and they pay me via PayPal quarterly with cashback from my online shopping. I also like how Rakuten automatically lets me know if there’s a coupon offer or code I can use to apply to my purchase when I’m filling up my cart. To use Rakuten, all you need to do is sign up and activate Rakuten whenever you go to a website and start an online order.
You can check out my full review of Rakuten here.
5. Utilize Bogo Deals For Shoes
As my son gets older, I realize shoes are becoming more and more expensive. I don’t blame him for wanting Nike shoes and Air Jordans, but it costs a pretty penny.
Bogo shoe deals are nothing new, but I love taking advantage of them when the back to school season rolls around. We tend to buy one pair of gym shoes and one pair of casual shoes so being able to buy one at full price and get the other f0r 50% off really does help save money.
The key is to read through the terms of the deal and compare other offers. Bogo is pretty straightforward, but just keep in mind that most stores will charge you full price for the most expensive pair of shoes. So if you try to buy a $70 pair of shoes and a $25 pair of shoes, you’ll only save 50% on the $25 pair. The best way to get more bang for your buck with this deal is to get two pair of shoes that cost around the same price.
Stores like Famous Footwear and Shoe Carnival are great for finding a variety of shoes for your kids. You should also check beforehand and see if stores will allow you to combine coupons or other offers with a Bogo deal. Most times they won’t but it’s worth a try.
6. Shop At Warehouse/Bulk or Outlet Stores
My final tip to save money on back-to-school clothes is to shop at warehouse stores or outlet stores. Yes, I’m talking about stores like Sam’s Club and Costco alongside factory outlet stores too.
I used to work at a warehouse club store and I was always surprised to see how much affordable clothing they had. Most people came to the store for food items and the clothing section was often overlooked.
If you have a membership to a warehouse club store, I’d encourage you to check out their clothing section to see if you can find any deals for the back-to-school season because you may be missing out.
Also, factory outlet stores are not always the cheapest but they can offer some great deals on items like shoes and other clothing.
Don’t be that parent that wants to zip through the store and rush out. You can still stick to a schedule and be an efficient shopper, but you really have to slow down if you want to find the best deals.
This year, I went to Old Navy with my son to get his back to school clothes. We spent about an hour in the store but took our time and carefully scanned through the deals and clothing options.
To the untrained eye, some deals and discounts are not really apparent. By slowing down, I found the clearance section which was hidden all the way in the back of the store near the restrooms. I also found a stack of $4 t-shirts in assorted styles. I felt like a true winner when I noticed a small sign that advertised a jean’s sale in my son’s size. I was able to grab him a brand new pair of jeans for just $3.97.
I’m not going to lie, it took me a few times to walk back and forth before I saw this jeans sale. When we got to the register, I was even able to ask the cashier to let me run back and grab an extra pair of pants for my son since I came in under budget.
What are your strategies for saving money on back-to-school clothes? Do you do any of these things?
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