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How to Save on Back to School Clothes

July 13th, 2009

back-to-school-clothes.jpgAlthough it’s the middle of summer, it’s also time to start buying those back-to-school clothes. Can you manage the expense with higher gas and food prices? Fortunately, it is possible to clothe your children without spending a small fortune or sacrificing variety and quality.

Discount Stores

You may have one of these in your area. They often sell overstocked items and irregulars. It’s not unusual to find designer and name brand items at one fourth the original price or less. If you’re not sure if you have one locally, look online for retailers who sell irregular clothing or ask at your local department stores. They’ll often be able to tell you where their overstock clothing goes.

Yard Sales

Yard sales have traditionally been a great source for inexpensive, secondhand items, and they still can be. Check your local paper for yard sale listings and pay particular attention to those that advertise children’s clothing.

Unfortunately, high gas prices can make a weekend of yard sale shopping less frugal than it used to be. Team up with a friend to split the gas costs and plan your trip to do the least driving possible. Also, many towns offer large yard sale days that can be a great option to let you visit dozens of yard sales in a few blocks. Check your local paper and chamber of commerce for listings.

Shop Online

Many people are opting for online sales rather than yard sales and the like. Check auction sites like Ebay and ads on sites like Craiglist and Freecycle. The drawback, of course, is that you can’t see what you’re buying ahead of time.

Don’t forget to shop for new items online as well. You can compare prices and often get free shipping if you search out a coupon code or spend a minimum amount of money.

Hand-me-downs and Exchanges

You may wince at the memory of wearing hand-me-downs when you were a child, but there’s nothing wrong with getting the full use of clothing. If hand-me-downs aren’t practical because your children are different ages or sexes, then explore swapping clothes with friends or coworkers. Your children may be more willing to wear hand-me-downs when they didn’t come from a sibling.

Secondhand Stores

Many towns have clothing consignment shops or secondhand clothing stores. This is often an easier option than searching yard sales and buying online because of the convenience and ability to examine the clothes beforehand. Most shops will only accept items that are in good condition, so you can be assured of getting good quality as well.

Buy Out of Season

Buy your summer clothes when the winter items are starting to come out, and vice versa. You can often save quite a lot on clothing this way, but it does require some planning ahead. This works best for older children who are growing more slowly since you’ll have to predict what size they’ll need a half year or more from now.

Other Tips for Saving on Back to School Clothes:

  1. Check what you buy to be sure it’s free of flaws.
  2. Ask when the stores get their shipments in so you can schedule shopping trips to get the best selection.
  3. For garage sales and yard sales, call ahead to find out what sizes and types of clothing they’ll have available and have a list of your children’s sizes with you. Also, you may want to arrive early because children’s clothes will get picked over quickly.
  4. When shopping for back-to-school clothes online, ask about the quality of the item and how much it’s worn. If necessary, ask for pictures before purchasing.
  5. Many children find it embarrassing to wear hand-me-downs, so avoid trading clothes with children from their social circles.
  6. If you’re looking for back-to-school clothes at consignment stores, tell the shop owner what you’re looking for and ask her to let you know when she gets something in that fits your needs.
  7. Buy items that are classic and won’t be out of style by the time they’re worn.

It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars each autumn getting your children ready for the school year, but a little planning and creativity can drastically cut that cost and still provide attractive clothing for your family.


Constant Content author “Corner Scribe” has produced 27 articles and 17 sales.


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