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Back to school shopping is upon us, it’s time to break out those wallets and buy new school supplies and kids clothes. This can easily cost a small fortune if we aren’t careful.
With the average parent paying a few hundred dollars for back to school gear for kids, it’s enough to buy a cheap used vehicle. Imagine how nice of a car you can afford from the K-12 back to school shopping you have done or will do.
To make it easier on the budgets and your wallets, I’ve compiled a master list full of amazing and unique ways that you can save money on your kids back to school clothes deals. This should make this predictable expense much less of a hardship and financial strain.
In this post we will cover:
- How much you should spend on back to school clothes
- Side hustles you can do this summer to afford a bigger back to school budget
- When the best time to do school clothes shopping
- What should be included on your clothes shopping list
- How a capsule wardrobe can save you a ton of money and laundry
- The Best Places to Buy Kids Clothes
- Rebates, coupons, and other ways you can save money on the clothes
- Where you can get clothes for free
- What to do with your old clothes
- Tips to help you save money on more clothes throughout the year
How much should I spend on back to school clothes?
This is a number that varies per person and per budget. Growing up, the largest budget my mom ever set for us (that I can remember) was $40 each for new clothes +1 new pair of shoes. With 3 kids, that ate up a lot of money quickly. Especially since my brother is tall and needed to go over budget for his clothes to fit his frame.
With my daughter going into 1st grade this year, I plan on setting her clothing budget at $100. This is mostly due in part to 99.9% of her current clothes having holes, stains that won’t wash out, or no longer fit her properly.
How much you want to spend is up to you.
You should look at your monthly budget and see how much money you can allot towards new school clothes without hurting your budget. Even if it’s just $20, a lot can be purchased if you plan it out well.
The key is to make sure that you set a reasonable budget and follow through with it. The smaller the budget, the more creative planning will go into it.
Side hustles you can do this summer to afford a bigger back to school budget
There is still time to make some quick side cash from doing small jobs if you want to have a larger budget or not touch your monthly income. This is a great way to afford a little more breathing room and remove some of the stress of planning on such a tight budget.
Some creative ways that you can make money this summer include:
Freelance writing- I make about $1,000 a month from freelance writing while being a full-time SAHM and doing all of the work that goes into this blog. If I set regular office hours or devoted more time to it, I could easily make more money. Unfortunately, that would mean less time is the other areas of my life that matter most to me.
Sell something- Selling items around the house is not only a great way to embrace a minimalist lifestyle by reducing clutter but is also a great way to make extra money. People love to buy things online and in yard sales, so selling your stuff online could yield quick profits with little effort.
Babysitting– Our local daycares are charging $400 per week for a 7-year-old child to be watched for a few hours during the week while parents are working. Babysitters are making about half of that and you can easily take part in some of that action. Watching family and friend’s kids for a few hours so parents can enjoy a night out or go to work can bring in a decent amount of money for just a few hours of your time.
Pet watching- With a lot of families taking trips or working during the summer, pet watching is good business. Taking them on walks, refilling food and water bowls and merely playing with the little furbabies is a great side hustle because it’s so easy to do.
When the best time to do school clothes shopping?
Clothing sales happen all year long, so it can be hard to spot the good back to school clothing deals when they happen. During the summer you have winter clothes being cleared out, summer clothes being sold and back to school clothes all thrown together in the department stores. With a sea of red, white, and blue intertwining with the bathing suits and snow jackets, finding nice clothes fit for school can be a crazy chaotic mess.
The best time to do any back to school clothes shopping is actually mid-July-August. Unlike school supplies where the deals happen all summer long, clothing deals actually get sweeter the closer to the start of school.
They also get even better after school starts! So strategically, it would make sense to buy a few pieces before school, to get you started and then do the bulk shopping after your child is in school.
What should be included on your clothes shopping list
You know your child more than anybody else, so depending on your child and their interests, you may need to adjust your shopping list to cater to them and their needs.
Before making a list of the clothes to buy, take an inventory of the clothes that you already have. Look inside your child’s closet and dresser drawers and look for things that are not worn often or that are still in good condition. The more you already have, the less you have to buy new.
Out of the clothes you need to have new, you should consider acquiring them in a size up. Kids grow a lot during the school year and shirts that fit slightly big at the beginning of the year can fit tightly towards the end depending on how much of a growth spurt your child went through. Unfortunately, growth spurts are unpredictable and as parents, we just have to go with the flow.
Including an extra pair of shoes that are half a size up can help too because those are easy to get worn out with kids dragging their feet everywhere.
How a capsule wardrobe can save you a ton of money and laundry
A capsule wardrobe is a great “invention” created by minimalists. It’s genius in that it can save you money and laundry. I have yet to meet a single person that actually enjoys washing mountains of laundry, folding and then putting them away. Anyone who does enjoy this should be considered suspicious.
Anyways, a capsule wardrobe is when you have a limited amount of clothing pieces, and they can be mixed and matched for unlimited outfits.
This means that you can have 7 tops and 7 pairs of pants/bottoms and when mixed and matched around, you can get through an entire month without repeating the same outfit twice! You also only have to do laundry once per week, and the amount of dirty clothes on the floor is significantly smaller than it is currently.
It’s a big win-win.
Just make sure to get clothes that have little to no graphics, are color-coordinated, and that can be layered. The school year touches every season of the year, summer, fall, winter, and spring. Being able to layer clothes means that you can dress for the season and don’t need to buy even more clothes throughout the year.
The Best Places to Buy Kids Clothes
Thrift stores are a great way to save money on used clothes and can often have items still new with tags. Places like Goodwill and The Salvation Army both have special discounted deals throughout the week where you can buy items even cheaper.
Online retail thrift stores such as Schoola offer great discounts every month up to 75% off. Just check your email and wait for a code to come in. It happens frequently!
You can get a $10 credit to Schoola by signing up with this link here.
You can look locally at garage sales, Craigslist, the Offer Up apps and Facebook Marketplace. These places may have people willing to haggle, trade or give better deals.
You can also check out overstock stores such as Marshalls, Tj Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus, and Ross.
Just make sure to avoid expensive stores
It’s as simple as avoiding temptation. If you don’t enter an expensive store, you can’t buy anything inside. With most people having an issue with leaving a store and not buying at least one thing, this can kill a budget. To make it easier, stay with the stores that can fit within your budget.
Rebates, coupons and other ways you can save money
You may be asking yourself, “How can I save money on back to school clothes?” Besides the more obvious answer of waiting for a back to school clothes sale before buying pieces, there are other things that you can do to maximize your savings.
Check the clearance sections
Clearance racks are like a gold mine for discounted clothes. It’s great because you can find pretty much anything at affordable and reasonable prices. The same thing can be said for virtual stores as well as brick and mortar locations.
Ebates and TopCashback
These are two great websites to shop through for rebated savings. Both of them work the same in that you go to their website and click through to the store you want to shop at. When you’re done and you’ve checked out, you’ll get a percentage of that money back and when your total reaches a certain threshold amount, you’ll get it.
Sign up for Ebates here to get a $10 cash bonus or sign up for TopCashBack here and get a bonus!
Similar to how the rebate websites work, this company pays you after you shop. But, it does so without any effort on your part. When you sign up you give permission to Paribus to work within your email. When you shop, an emailed receipt or confirmation order goes to your email and that is when Paribus get to work.
Paribus will keep an eye out and wait for the store’s price match policy guidelines to be met. Meaning if the item you bought goes on sale within a specified time frame, you can get the cash difference. Paribus will email the company and get it sent to you, all they ask is for a small amount of that money, you won’t even miss it.
Sign up for Paribus here to start saving more money online!
Another tip is to stay home and do your shopping online
By shopping online you can stay much more aware of your budget thanks to shopping carts and totals. You can also use multiple promotion codes and money back websites to get the most out of your money. And, you get to do it from the comfort of your couch.
Where you can get your clothes for free
If your friends and family have kids of similar ages, genders or sizes, you can swap clothing. Have adults choose nice clothes that no longer fit and trade them around until you compile a nice set of outfits that didn’t cost you anything.
You can also gather other local moms for a clothing swap party and ask everyone to bring a certain amount of clothes and bring snacks. Now you have a fun mom’s day and save money on your kid’s clothes. It’s a win-win.
Family and friends without younger kids are often asking for different gift suggestions to help out. My husband’s aunt sends my kids clothes, toys, gift cards, and stickers throughout the year.
You’d be surprised how many people would go out of their way to get your kids clothes as gifts if you told them the key details like the sizes they wear, favorite colors or characters.
Local buy nothing groups
Did you know that if you went to Facebook and in the search bar typed in “buy nothing” you’d pull up local buy nothing groups dedicated to gifting and requesting items for free?
There are so many groups dedicated to giving away free unwanted items that are still perfectly good! Put in a request for clothes in your child’s size, get the free used clothes, take what you want and pass on the rest. It didn’t cost you anything to do, and you got to meet some local members of your community.
What you can do with your old clothes
Selling your old clothes so that you can afford new ones is a great way to keep within your budget. There are so many different websites, apps and ways that you can try to sell old clothes. Even if you don’t make much money from selling your old kid clothes, it’s still money that you didn’t have before.
If you couldn’t sell all of your clothes, you can choose to donate them. It doesn’t matter if you gift them to a charity, person, or family because the results are the same. Someone benefited from your kindness, and you help yourself by making more space in your home.
Recycling old clothes could be done in a large number of ways. Some of the easiest would be to simply create a new clothing piece from an old one. Making a pair of legging into a pair of shorts, or a dress into a skirt are two creative ways to repurpose clothing.
Some other ideas include turning old denim jeans into a heavy weighted quilt or cutting up an old t-shirt and braiding them into a nice area rug. If you’re really crafty, you may even find ways to make money from some ideas.
Tips to help you save money on more clothes throughout the year
Set up a sinking fund
Think about next year’s budget. What do you want to budget for new school clothes next year? Take that amount and divide it by the number of months between now and then. So if it’s September now, and you want to have $100 by July, you need to save $10 a month in a small sinking fund to help you out. That’s a much more reasonable amount to think about as opposed to a $100 lump sum from the paycheck before the first day of school.
Shop off season when possible
With most back to school clothes being priced low in October as stores clearance them out, it’s a good idea to buy clothes then. Either buy in preparation for the following year or the rest of this one. Shopping offseason (and a size up) can have you saving money all year long.
With these tips, you can save a lot of money on back to school kids clothes.
What are some of the ways that you like to save money on back to school clothes?
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