It’s that time of the year again! The leaves on the trees are starting to change over to their fall splendor, a hint of crispness is in the air, it’s almost apple-picking season… and oh yes, the kids are going back to school! It’s a time that we moms look toward with mixed feelings; perhaps a tinge of relief at not having the kids underfoot all day long, blended with a bit of nostalgia prompted by them getting another year older. One thing’s for sure: It’s time for breaking out our best bargain-hunting strategies as we search for back-to-school clothing at reasonable prices!
Now that my kids are getting bigger, I’ve found it more difficult to find clothing for them that they will wear willingly, that I’ll allow them to wear (some of those styles, particularly for pre-teen girls, are just not what I want my kids wearing!), and that won’t break the bank. Long gone are the days when I could choose whatever I wanted to dress my toddlers in! So, the current back-to-school routine consists of us trudging through various stores, with me holding up items and my kids saying “no!” This is interspersed with them holding up clothing that costs double what I’m willing to pay, prompting negative reactions on my end.
So, how to handle back-to-school shopping? Here are a few hints that I’ve found which help to reduce meltdowns and boost shopping success:
- Set the budget ahead of time. Tell your child that you are spending only X number of dollars. If she insists that she needs a pair of jeans that take up half the budget, make sure she understands that she will end up getting fewer items. Then, allow her to make the decision!
- Go over your expectations for modesty and the school dress code before you leave. If spaghetti straps, short shorts, miniskirts and low necklines are no-nos for whatever reason, state this in the beginning and stick to the rules.
- Have your child go through catalogs and flyers, pointing out things that she likes. This will give you an idea of what she is looking for, and will reduce the number of times you hold up something that your child considers completely uncool and inappropriate.
- Consider shopping online. I know that trudging through stores encumbered by shopping bags turns me into a crabby mom very quickly. On the contrary, ordering online and receiving items in neatly packaged boxes a week later makes me happy. Only you know if this will work for your child; my daughter is particular about how certain fabrics feel, and this does not work for her unless we already own a sample of the item in question.
- Limit the number of stores that you visit. If you can avoid it, don’t hit more than one mall in one day (unless, of course, this is your idea of fun). We usually try to do the big-box stores all at once, then will go to three or four stores in the mall on another day.
- Sign up for the stores’ websites in order to find out about savings and coupons. Don’t be afraid to put off back-to-school shopping for a few weeks in order to take advantage of special deals. As long as your child has a new outfit or two to wear the first week of school, she will probably be okay with waiting for the rest.
Last year, I found that Zulily had a lot of high-quality clothing at great prices; if you’re a fan of ordering online, check out that option. We actually have a page of Zulily coupons to help you save a bit of money, too.
What are your best back-to-school shopping tips?