One of the best things about heading back to school is the shopping spree a few weeks before. Unfortunately, with many families struggling to make ends meet, this may be a pleasure for more prosperous times. What can you do to make sure your child is well dressed while not busting your budget this fall? Here are a few tips.
* Sort through last year’s items - Pull out all of your child’s clothes and go through them. Items that still fit and are free from stains and tears can be repurposed for this year. Basic items are almost always in fashion and go well with newer updated items.
* Use hand-me-downs - If you have an older child of the same sex, pass their clothing along to the younger sibling instead of tossing them out. Just like last-seasons items, keep only those pieces that are timeless, fit well, and are free from stains and tears. Make sure that the younger child doesn’t feel like they only get their siblings cast-offs, though. Take him or her for a special shopping trip to get a couple of extra-special pieces.
* Bargain shop - From outlet stores to seasonal sales, there are always bargains to be had. Watch your local ads and sign up online for newsletters from your favorite stores so you will know when the sales are. You might even get some coupons out of it!
* Plan ahead - Begin planning for your child’s school year clothing the winter before and it will be much less expensive to send them off with a full new wardrobe. Styles really don’t change too much from one season to the next, so if you purchase from end-of-season sales you could get three or four outfits for the price of one.
* Buy used clothing - While your child might act like they are dying of embarrassment if they knew it, you can usually find some great pieces at second-hand stores and clothing trades. You might have to weed through a number of torn, stained or horribly-out-of-fashion items, but you are sure to find things like basic jeans, tank tops, t-shirts, turtlenecks, belts and possibly even barely-worn shoes.
* Learn how to sew - Unlike many years ago, it is rarely cost-effective to purchase new fabric and create items from scratch. However, it is useful to have sewing skills for making alterations to good used clothing. It is even possible to convert a larger item into an entirely different garment if the fabric is good. It’s also fun to add whatever embellishment is the latest trend. From patches to sequins, a needle and thread can go a long way.
* Splurge a little - If you can afford it, allow your child a set dollar amount, even as little as $20, to purchase one or two items that they adore and they consider “must-haves” for this year’s little fashionistas. This small splurge can make the entire back-to-school bargain hunting effort go much smoother and helps your child with their fashion self-esteem.
The bargain-conscious parent can be at peace with fashion-conscious kids with some planning and extra effort. It’s as simple as reusing items, buying bargains, and accessorizing with a few of the latest fashions. Your kids may not be ready for a runway, but they will be ready for the first day of school.