Every year many parents and children spend the final few weeks of summer getting ready for back to school. If it's time to purchase back to school clothes at your home, you should know that replenishing your child's wardrobe doesn't have to be expensive. While tweens crave clothes that are in style and that they see their peers wearing, there are ways to cut the cost of the school wardrobe, if you're thinking ahead. In fact, if you have a plan, you can make the most of every penny and hopefully have enough left over for all those school supplies.
Here's what you should know about saving money on back to school clothes.
Take Inventory FirstBefore you set out on your back to school clothes shopping trip, first take inventory of what your tween already has. Spend some time sorting through your child's closet and drawers to see what he or she already has. If your child hasn't had any dramatic growth spurts over the summer, he or she may still get some wear out of last year's school clothes. This is also a good time to give away or consign clothes that are still in good shape, but no longer fit your child.
Prioritize PurchasesMake a list of items your tween must have for school - jeans, shirts, shoes, tennis shoes, belts, underwear, jackets, etc. Prioritize the items your tween needs, against what he already owns. If your tween has several pairs of jeans that are in good shape and still fit, you may only need to buy another pair for the school year. If your child's foot has grown a size or two over the summer, then school shoes should be at the top of your child's priority list.
Set a Back to School Clothes BudgetTweens can be very fashion conscious, but they may not understand how to work within a budget. Shopping for back to school clothes is an opportunity for you to help your child manage money and work within a budget. Your tween should know how much you have to spend on back to school clothes. Be specific about what you'll pay for items such as jeans, shoes, shirts, and accessories. If your tween wants a pair of shoes that cost more than you're willing to pay, consider having him make up the difference with his own money.
Shop Sales and Thrift StoresMany states offer tax-free holidays around back to school time. The savings can really add up if you're shopping for back to school clothes and back to school supplies. Of course, you'll have to brave heavy crowds on tax-free shopping days, but the savings could pay off.
In addition, thrift stores and consignment stores such as Plato's Closet, offer opportunities for additional savings. Just make sure the price point is fair, and the item passes safety concerns. Thrift stores are required to check children's clothes for lead problems. Even so, clothes or accessories that aren't safe could still find their way to the racks for purchase.
Buy Durable Clothes, and Low-Maintenance ClothesTweens are still pretty hard on their clothes so look for back to school clothes that are well made and will last the entire year. Also, make sure that any items your child purchases are easy to care for. Take a pass on clothes that have to be hand-washed or ironed. Also, make sure any items you purchase don't have plastic appliques on them. These soft plastic appliques break down in the washer and dryer, and can separate from the clothing, making the item look old very quickly.
Consider How Clothes CoordinateIt's always a good idea to consider how clothes will coordinate with what you already own before purchasing them. Also, be sure you are aware of any dress codes your child's school may enforce. Make sure that any shirts or blouses you buy will coordinate with at least three pairs of pants or skirts your tween already owns. Try to focus your tween's attention on clothes that can be easily matched with jeans, and encourage your child to accessorize outfits with scarves, belts and necklaces, which can change the look of an outfit.
Say "No" to TV Show or Logo-Inspired ClothingYour tween may be pushing for a T-shirt with her favorite television character plastered all over it. But in general, it's a good idea to stay away from clothes that are inspired by television shows or TV personalities. The reason is, tweens are fickle, and your child's favorite star today may be on her "loser" list tomorrow. And if a friend makes a negative comment about your child's favorite star or television show, it's pretty much guaranteed that she'll never be seen again in that "must have" T-shirt.
Consider Buying in DuplicateTweens can be picky consumers, and that can make shopping very difficult. If your tween finds a pair of shoes that fit well and that he likes, consider purchasing a pair in his current size, and another pair in a size up. That way, when his foot grows, you'll have a pair of shoes ready to go. And that could save you from having to make another clothes shopping trip in the middle of the year.