Tips for Back to School Shopping on a Budget

A new school year is right around the corner. Are you ready? Or is your budget a little tighter than normal this year?  Getting your children ready to go back to school does not need to be stressful. With a little planning, you can send your children back to school and stay within your budget.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

Make Lists

Whether you use a phone app or buy a spiral notebook, lists are a must when preparing for the new school year. Stay organized. Write out a list of each child’s needs for back to school.

Before Shopping Check School Guidelines

Children seem to grow a couple of inches over the summer months. The start of school may require an upgraded wardrobe. Prior to back-to-school shopping, check your child’s school website or handbook for any changes in dress code requirements.  

Photo by Bess Hamiti on

Check the Closets

Now, time to get busy. Start by checking your child’s current clothing. Carefully, inspect each piece of clothing for potential school-appropriate outfits. Older children can help in this process. When searching for back-to-school outfits, use this time to clean out unwanted or too-small pieces of clothing. Sort your children’s clothes into piles.

  • School Appropriate: The pile consists of clothing suitable to start the current school year. Even summer clothing should be part of your wearable inventory. Many autumn days are still warm. Extending the life of summer clothes is a money saver.
  • Home Wearable: The pile consists of clothing only suitable for stay-at-home days or playtime. The clothes may look worn but still in good condition.
  • Donation Pile: Clothing still in good condition but no longer usable. The clothes may be too small, do not fit properly, or not a favorite with your child. The clothes in this pile may be suitable for resale at a consignment shop, garage sale, or donation at your nearest charity. Advertising your child’s unwearable clothes on social media for free is a great way to help another child in the community.
  • Discard: Clothes with stains or unrepairable holes go into this pile. Cut the clothes into small pieces to use for rags, crafts, or discard.

The pile system is the perfect opportunity to assess your child’s immediate clothing requirements for back to school. Make a detailed inventory of wearable clothes to help prepare your shopping lists. Remember to check footwear too.


Time to Shop

Use your list of essentials to start your back-to-school shopping.

  • Update Current Clothing: When creating your different piles of clothing, did you notice any clothing that could use updating? Here is a perfect time to get creative. Sew on new buttons or dye clothing to bring back vibrant colors. Add accessories to upgrade current pieces of clothing. For example, a vest or sweater can change the look of an entire outfit.
  • Shop Different Consignment and Thrift Shops: Start shopping at your local second-hand stores in your area for your children’s back-to-school clothes.  Thrift shops are ideal for staying within your budget. Older children may find pieces of clothing unique to their personal style.
  • Shop Area Garage and Yard Sales: Like you, other parents are preparing for the upcoming school year. Garage sales get rid of unwearable clothing items at a low cost. Depending on the amount of use, some articles of clothing appear brand new.
  • Clearance Section: When children start going back to school, the weather in many areas is still warm. The good news, many clothing stores discount summer wear to make room for winter items. Discounted clothing is a great way to start the back-to-school year.
  • Comparison Shop: Sign up for ad updates from your favorite department stores. Many companies provide discounts for registering your e-mail. Use the Internet, local newspaper inserts, and store websites to comparison shop. Utilizing all the different ads is a money-saving opportunity.

Going back to school is an exciting time for children. As a parent, you may worry about your budget. Preplan to find the needed essentials for your child’s wardrobe.

Author: Rebecca C.

I am just a person who loves to photograph and write about the world around me.

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