Have back to school supplies already taken a bite out of your budget? If you haven't gotten the kids' school wardrobe rounded out yet, get ready. According to a survey conducted by the website Parenting, 90% of moms said they spend more cash on their kids' fall wardrobes than their own. And, they're spending on average just under three times the amount of money on clothing ($131 per kid) as they are on supplies themselves ($48).
What that survey doesn't take into account, though, is the many ways you can save on back-to-school clothes. Here are seven tips to get you started.
- Learn the Uniform Policy
Make sure you are aware of any school policies regarding uniforms and dress code as you begin to shop for school clothes. If there aren't any, proceed with all of the following strategies. However, if there is a dress code, the school itself might have a clothing shop where you can get your kids' attire for less than retail outlets.
- Create a Shopping List
Be sure to go through your kids' closets and drawers to see what still fits and what they do and don't need. Remember, children grow in spurts - pick up a new pair of sneakers when you already have some in the closet and you're wasting your money.
- Stick to Basic Colors
Once the time comes to purchase, do your best to stick with basic colors. That can make it a lot easier to mix and match outfits. Plus, you might not need to purchase as many shirts, pants, and accessories. A few plaid or striped items are OK - just don't go overboard. Those pieces of clothing won't always match up well with others.
- Buy Early for Winter
Remember, even when it's still warm out, winter is right around the corner. And the worst time to buy sweaters, coats, and cold weather hats is in the dead of winter. Make sure you put those items on your list to take advantage of the many sales that are held before the cold sets in.
- Shop Clearance Sections
Do not ignore the clearance section of the clothing retailers on your list. Just because a company has deemed a particular style no longer "in" doesn't mean it can't occupy a place in your kids' wardrobe. I've often found deals on basic shirts and pants for 75% off by checking out the clearance section.
- Check Out Non-Traditional Shopping Outlets
Do not limit yourself to traditional clothing retailers such as Old Navy, Gap, Target, and Walmart. Check out garage sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, and even eBay for your clothing needs. If you're going to save on back-to-school clothing for your children, you have to get creative. A lot of the time you can find virtually brand new clothing for pennies on the dollar by shopping at these non-traditional outlets.
- Use Deal Sharing Websites
One of the best ways to find out about back-to-school clothing sales is to use deal sharing websites like FatWallet or Slickdeals. It sure beats individually perusing the websites of the clothing retailers. Deals are posted all the time by members, and they can save you a lot of time during your shopping process. Keep in mind that deals are good for online purchases, but there are also discounts and coupons displayed for in-store purchasing.
When you make a trip to a retail store, be sure to bring the kids along. You might not save extra cash, but at the very least you can cut down on your need for returns. The last thing you want is to arrive home at the end of a few hours of shopping only to find that your child doesn't like what you picked out. Save what you can on your own, but try heading out with the kids in tow to make the entire process more efficient.
Do you know of any other ways to save on back-to-school clothing?
Brian Clear is a Denver-based writer who shares thoughts related to personal finance, money saving strategies, and investing for retirement. Do you want to write a guest post for The Dime? Send us an email at dimecontact at copera dot org.