August is already half way over which means our two children will be headed back to school in just two weeks! We have already finished most of our back to school shopping. WooHoo! This year was one of the easiest and quickest years ever! I'm not sure if it's because our children are getting older and know what they want, or if we are just getting better at it as the years go by?
I'm sure that the main goal of most families is being able to purchase the most affordable items, and to just save money in general when doing their back to school shopping. Of course, that is our goal as well but we also have other things in mind. I have found that often times the best way to save money, is to spend a little bit more in the beginning.
Quality over quantity is key. We used to always always purchase all of our children's clothing at the cheaper department and discount stores thinking we were getting a great deal and patting ourselves on the back for the bargains we would find. After a few years of this, we realized that the quality of the items we were purchasing definitely left something to be desired. The cheaper clothing and backpacks just did not seem to last. When we started shopping at higher end stores in the mall we found clothing that was well made and lasted throughout the entire school year, even several years.
While the mall prices can be higher, the sales, coupons and clearance racks can offer a great way to still be affordable. For example, my daughter LOVES Justice clothing. They can be a bit pricey but we lessen the sticker shock by always shopping there with a 40% off coupon that we get by signing up for their newsletter. The store always has a large clearance section with great items at a steep discount. Also, we earn JBucks and Fun Bucks, coupons you get when you spend a certain amount of money, to get $25 off of $50. A great bargain! There are also good sales online that the JBucks can be used on.
My teen son is extremely picky. He like to shop mainly at Hot Topic. We only buy his t-shirts when they run the buy one get one 50% off sale. Again, they have a rewards program and almost every time we shop we have enough points to get a 15% off discount.
I also have to admit that I try to make sure they have a bit of room to grow into their clothes. I don't mean that we purchase things three times too large, we just make sure that their pants aren't snug and that shoes have a bit of wiggle room.We buy their core wardrobes new, then fill in with thrift sale and yard sale finds. I managed to snag a ton of name brand items, with minimal wear, at last weekends neighborhood sale for a steal.
One big tip I have for purchasing back to school supplies is to make sure that they really need all of those crayons, notebooks and erasers. Don't go overboard on the supplies! We used to buy both kids tons of things we thought they would need - glue sticks, pencils, folders, etc., etc., etc. only to find out that the school supplies most of it and we were out all of that money. Of course, each school district is different and your child may have a longer supply list than ours. My point is stick to the list. I know it's tempting to buy all those cool gadgets and fancy pens/pencils markers and binders but the fact is they really only need the basic necessities.
You can visit the Horizon Healthy Families Back to School Community to find a ton of great tips from moms like you and even share your own too! The BlogFrog community is a fun place where moms can gather to learn ways to save on clothing, get back to school meal and school lunch ideas, and general advice for busy families.