I’m not trying to scare you, but if you really want to know how much your children are costing you each year, you can go to the USDA Cost of Raising a Child Calculator. Depending on the number of children you have, their ages, and a few other questions, you can calculate just how much those little crumb snatchers will cost you. Parents are reminded constantly of this, especially during back to school shopping season when many family budgets are thrown into the red. While you can’t avoid these expenses altogether, there are ways to control them so you don’t have to bust your budget. Keep reading for some tips to help you save money.
1. Before setting out to buy back to school clothes, take inventory of what you really need.
Closets are usually full of clothes from every season dating back for a few years. Summer is a good time to go through your child’s wardrobe and discard any items that are too small or worn out. This exercise will give you a good idea of what’s left. Let that guide you in your new purchases. Even better, make a list and stick to it!
2. When buying back to school clothes, don’t feel like you have to buy an entire wardrobe.
Your kids will keep growing throughout the year. With the change of seasons, you can spread these purchases over the school year to avoid buying a closet full of clothing that might be wearable for only a few months.
3. If you have more than one child, you may be able to pass down some items.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent that finds new and like-new items in my children’s closets. Consider passing these down to your younger children, or offer them to friends or family. Donate leftover items and keep records of these donations for tax time.
4. Take advantage of tax-free weekends.
This is a no-brainer. Plan your shopping around these weekends to take advantage of some significant savings.
5. Consider shopping at clothing consignment stores and sites like eBay®.
You can find new and nearly new clothing in all of the hip clothing lines for a fraction of the price. Shop these first and hit the malls and department stores for the rest.
6. Save expensive items for Christmas and birthday gifts.
It’s natural for your children to want the latest sneakers or a cool backpack. If these items fall outside of your back to school budget, let your children have the option of putting these on their birthday or Christmas wish list. Your child will get something they really want, and you’ll make Grandma’s job easier.
Keep in mind that it’s OK to tell your child “No.” Clothes are a need but the latest designer jeans or shoes are not. You have the final say in what you’ll purchase. If you don’t want to tell your children “No,” then give them choices, such as gently worn instead of new, one expensive item instead of two affordable ones, tops from the hip stores but generic bottoms.
If your kids are older, consider letting them do their own shopping. Drop them off at their favorite shopping establishment with a universal gift card preloaded with your child’s budget and a list of items that they need. Let them make the difficult decisions when it comes to limited resources and unlimited options. Either your child will impress you with their ability to stretch a dollar or you’ll have to make some exchanges. Either way, it’s a learning experience.
How do you save money on back to school shopping? Share with us below!