It’s that time of year again. School is fast approaching. Huge displays of pencils, tablets, binders, and other school supplies sit side by side throughout the stores. The summer clothes are on the clearance racks. The fall clothes abound, with children’s clothing dominating the apparel sections. After all, it’s a safe bet that most children have grown at least one size since the beginning of last school year, so most of them will need new clothes.
Paying for school clothes is one of those expenses that ranks right up there with Christmas presents and vacations. But did you ever notice that banks offer Christmas club accounts and vacation club accounts, yet they don’t offer school clothes accounts? You could always use a regular savings account to save money for school clothes, but how many people actually think to do that? Most people don’t save up for school clothes, they just try to get a good deal on them when they buy them.
So, how exactly do you get a “good deal” when school clothes shopping? Is it even possible to find “affordable” clothes in the current economy? The answers to those questions depend on your income. No matter what your income though, there are ways for you to get clothes for your ever-growing children. Let me share my top 10 tips with you.
1. Buy coordinating pieces:
If you buy clothes in complimenting color schemes, patterns, or designs, you can mix and match the tops and bottoms to create more outfit combinations, thus reducing the number of individual items of clothing that you need to buy.
2. Shop in the off season:
You can get great deals buying fall clothing on clearance in the spring, and vice versa. If you can anticipate your child’s growth, buying clothes ahead of time for him to grow into is a great money-saver. (I once bought my oldest a snow suit on clearance for $12 right after Christmas!)
3. Swap clothing:
Invite some friends over to swap your children’s gently-used clothing. They’d probably appreciate both getting rid of unwanted items, and getting free clothing at the same time. If you don’t have friends to swap with, you could find an online community of people with which to trade. You could try a Buy-Sell-Trade group or an online classifieds site.
4. Buy on eBay:
EBay has new and used items for sale, most at discounted prices. Many sellers offer a shipping discount if you buy multiple items from them. Some sellers even offer a “lot” of clothing for sale – a “lot” is multiple items of clothing, usually coordinating or in the same size range.
5. Online discounts:
You can save a significant sum of money if you go to a website like www.RetailMeNot.com and search for online coupons, discount codes, or free shipping codes for your favorite online retailers. You could also go to your favorite retailer’s website and type “clearance” in the search box to view only discounted merchandise.
6. Consignment Shops:
Consignment shops are stores that sell merchandise (used or new) for other people for a percentage of the sale price. The prices at consignment shops are usually very reasonable, and they usually only accept clothing that’s in very good condition. If you don’t want to buy gently used clothing, you could sell some of your child’s old clothes at a consignment shop to help fund her new wardrobe!
7. Thrift shops:
Thrift shops are similar to consignment shops, but they’re usually charity-oriented. They may have new or used clothing for sale, though most is used. They also have been known to have sales. I know of a couple mothers who go to Goodwill to shop at their “29-cent” sale rack.
8. Yard sales:
Have one or shop one! Yard sales are extremely popular summer events. If you find a yard sale that has clothing in your child’s size for sale, you could buy his entire wardrobe there for much less than retail. If you don’t want to shop at a yard sale, you could host your own to help fund your child’s new school clothes from a traditional retailer.
Freecycle.org is a group with the premise of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”. Members can post for items they’d like to give away or items they’d like to receive. The site is completely free, so you can’t buy or sell items on it, nor can you trade.
10. Update existing items:
If your child has clothes that fit but are out of style or that she just doesn’t like anymore, give them an update to avoid buying new. Decorate jeans with iron-on patches. Sew tie-backs or decorative buttons on shirts and dresses. Buy a cheap box of dye and dye them a new color. Let your child use her imagination, and see what she comes up with!
Article by Randi Millward