Back to school time, depending on how much your children have grown over the holidays, can spell financial disaster for some parents. Not only do you have to kit your kids out with all the stationery, bags, lunch boxes and other equipment they need, you might also have to buy an entirely new uniform. Click here if you think you might need a little financial assistance to help you through this expensive time. However, there are ways in which you can cut down on how much you will need to borrow or find. With some planning, you can have your kids going back to school in style while staying on a pretty tight budget.
In just a few weeks kids around the country will be heading back to school. For many parents, this time of year is tough financially. You can rack up an enormous bill in a very short time and it grows exponentially with each kid.
The ever-growing list of school supplies and the need to buy new clothes because the kids grew like weeds over the summer doesn’t make this any easier.
There are things you can do to save on both supplies and clothing. Today I am focusing on planning a back to school wardrobe on a budget.
To my surprise many schools here in the U.S. still haven’t adopted a uniform dress code. I was really hoping our school system would put one in place but alas, they did not.
Our school clothes budget this year is $150 per child. This includes socks, undies, shoes and clothing. I always get a bit nervous about creating a tight budget like this. On paper is seems almost impossible to stick to.
But necessity breeds ingenuity! I always seem to figure out a way to make things work.
Here are the steps I took to plan a back to school wardrobe on a budget.
Evaluate your typical climate for the school year.
Is most of the school year hot, cold or somewhere in between?
You want most of the clothes you have (or buy) to actually be worn during the school year.
This is something that I didn’t even consider last year when we put the kids in public school and I wish I had.
Last year I had spent most of our school clothes budget on shorts and t-shirts. I really should have bought jeans and long-sleeved shirts because most of the school year is pretty cold in our neck of the woods.
Last school year was also our first year in a new climate and had no idea what to expect. LESSON LEARNED!
Take inventory of what you have for each kid.
Have them try on all their clothes. How do they fit? Are they still in good shape or do they look shabby and worn out?
If they fit and still look pretty good I add that to the keep pile and put the worn-out stuff in the toss pile.
Yes, a large part of saving money is using what you already have!
When I was a kid I used to drive my mom CRAZY when we would go back to school shopping. I always insisted that I had to replace EVERYTHING in my wardrobe!
My mother would tell me over and over, “we are ADDING TO your wardrobe, not REPLACING it!”
Naturally, this is the mindset I have adopted with my own children and encourage others to use as well.
Determine how much clothing you need TOTAL.
Personally, I like to have 7 outfits (tops and bottoms), a dozen undies, a dozen pairs of socks and 1-2 pairs of shoes and a neutral belt per child, total.
This number might be higher for you. Just remember, the more clothes you buy, the higher your bill will be and the bigger Mt. Washmore will get!
If things start wearing out mid-year we do replace things as needed.
Take the total number of items needed and subtract what you have already in your keep pile.
For instance, if you decide that you need 10 outfits and have 5 already, you only need 5 more.
I do however, buy gym shoes brand new at the beginning of the school year and replace as needed no matter what we already have. Worn out shoes are bad for your feet.
Write down exactly what you need for each child.
Make list of what you need, don’t try to keep it all organized in your head. When you get to the store with kids in tow and it is a madhouse you won’t be able to focus well enough to remember anything.
Ask me how I know…
Scour sales flyers for the best sales.
So far, I have seen buy one, get one sales for shoes and buy one, get one for a dollar clothing. These are a fantastic way to save on good quality shoes and clothing.
Keep an eye out for the Sunday paper with all the flyers or look up stores available in your local area. Most stores post their upcoming flyers to their website a couple days in advance.
Amazon usually has great deals too. This is great for things you don’t have to try on like, back packs, lunch boxes and other things like that.
Shop during tax free week.
Our tax-free week begins on August 6th. It’s a given that it will be a madhouse where ever you go but you will save quite a bit of money on sales tax alone.
Shop at nice consignment boutiques.
I have found nice clothes still in really good shape for a fraction of the cost. Many of these shops also allow you to bring stuff in to sell and you can use your earnings as store credit.
It is worth looking in to.
Remember, back to school shopping is about adding to an already existing wardrobe. A very large part of saving money is learning to use what you have and replace only what you need.
Good planning is also another key factor for saving money and you can apply this principle to just about anything.
What are you waiting for? Get to planning your back to school wardrobe the first day of school is right around the corner!