By Contributing Writer, Hilary Kimes Bernstein
I’ve always been a bargain shopper. I can’t help it – it was the way I was raised. While I have many happy memories of my childhood, as an adult I realize exactly how my family scrimped and saved money simply out of necessity.
Now that I’m a mom and I need to make sure my family sticks to our budget, I’m thankful that I grew up as a bargain shopper. Scouring for deals is fun for me. I get a kick out of great hand-me-downs. I’ve spent decades learning to be resourceful.
My resourcefulness especially comes in handy when I dress my children who grow oh-so-fast. Now that my son and daughter have outgrown the toddler stage, I have a better handle on how many clothes they actually need. (They always seem to have many more clothes than they wear since they gravitate toward a few favorite outfits.)
Just in time for back-to-school (or homeschooling fall) shopping, here are a few tips for how to shop for kids’ clothes on a budget.
5 Tips for Back-to-School Clothes Shopping
Tip 1: Try everything on.
Before you head to the store, have your son or daughter try on all of their clothes. You’ll be surprised what still fits – and what doesn’t fit. If you have clothing stockpiled in larger sizes, try on these clothes, too. Clothing sizes can vary greatly from brand to brand, and you just might be surprised what clothes can be worn.
Tip 2: Make a list.
Have a plan before you hit the stores. Know how many staples you need. How is your child’s underwear fitting? How many socks does your son need? How many T-shirts – short sleeve and long sleeve – will complete your daughter’s outfits? Realistically figure out how many bottoms and tops your child has and needs. Think about how certain pieces of clothing can be mixed and matched.
Tip 3: Make a budget.
Know how much money you actually have to spend on your children’s clothing. Also know how much you would like to spend. Plan your shopping trip accordingly.
Tip 4: Pick your stores.
If money’s not an object for your family, then head wherever you please. If you don’t have much to spend and just can’t bear the thought of going into debt on your child’s wardrobe, don’t worry. Watch ads for current sales and coupons. Shop around for the best prices. Hit the clearance racks. Start shopping year-round, especially during end-of-season sales. (Hint: Now’s the time to stock up on spring or summer apparel. Even though you’re tempted to focus on fall styles, you can find some affordable summer looks that will be perfect in a few months.)
Tip 5: Get resourceful.
Look beyond typical department stores. Check out thrift stores for gently used secondhand clothing as a fantastic, frugal way to recycle. Browse garage sales. Look in closeout sections at your local bargain stores. Pay attention to offers of hand-me-downs. Or host your own back-to-school clothing swap. Simply gather a group of friends who are similarly sized, and bring along clothing that everyone’s willing to trade. (I did this with my own group of friends this past spring and had a lot of fun while I ended up with some great clothing.