Well our back to school shopping is done and I’m happy to report that we came in very close to the budget. Close enough in fact to splurge and visit the Cheescake factory when we were done. Here are a few of my tips:
Don’t feel pressured to do it all now. For the first month they are all mostly wearing flip-flops and t-shirts. They won’t need any real fall or winter clothes for awhile. By then there will be some great markdowns. You still need to have the tradition of taking them out for a special trip but don’t need to buy a whole wardrobe just yet.
Shop outside the usual department. For example, I found a 3 pack of men’s V neck t-shirts for $10 at Marshalls. I needed some tee shirts for summer and didn’t want to pay $7 or more per shirt in the ladies department. I’ve always had great luck finding the smaller sizes marked down. Especially in the men’s department since very few men alive will ever buy a small, even if they wear a small. I’m always finding great buys on the Target 75% off rack in the smaller sizes. I used to just pass them buy but now I buy those for my ten year old. It turns out that a size 1 jean from the ladies department fits her perfectly (she usually wears a 12 in girls). We managed to get 18 items for around $10 at Target with coupons which made a big dent in the shopping list.
Shop the markdown racks ahead of time for basics. I learned the hard way with my kids not to buy anything seasonal or too trendy ahead of time. It always seems that they are never in the size you bought during that season or they are suddenly no longer into what they were six months ago.
But plain tee shirts, undergarments, pajamas can be bought ahead and almost always work. If you don’t mind opened packages you can usually get
single items for much less than the normal price. You can also get plain tees at the craft stores for $2-$3 each or better.
I make it a point to buy a lot of socks at the same time, all the same. I did this for the kids last year at Kohl’s last year (I must have looked nuts) buying all those socks but guess what- we don’t need to buy anymore this year! Plus it is so nice to not have to match up 100 different sock varieties on laundry day.
Kohl’s offers so many coupons throughout the year such as $5/$5 for giving your email and $10 off $10 that can be combined with the 15% off savings
passes. This scored us a whole lot of great deals. I personally don’t use store credit cards but they offer extra discounts to card holders. I would only do it if you have the discipline to pay off what you just bought before leaving the store so you don’t get into a scenario where you are paying more in interest than savings on the item. Check your newspaper for the peelie stickers on the front page for Kohl’s and when you see them it might make sense to buy a few extra papers. You can buy a lot of department store coupons on Ebay if you think it is right for you.
JCP has been giving out $10/$25 coupons that don’t require using a credit card. They sent me a $10/$10 too which bought clearance pj’s for The Boy.
Sears and Lands End both offer guarantees on their clothing. That was never anything I ever worried about with my daughter but certainly with my son. This is especially helpful if you have a younger child and need to make sure the clothing will last. Or, if you are trying to limit clutter like I am, it makes more sense to buy a smaller quantity of items and wash more frequently. When my daughter was smaller and I still worked full time my husband actually counted and she had 93 tee shirts. 93! No wonder I was always doing laundry. Now we try to limit everyone to a two week limit and I do laundry on Thursdays. We have a lot more space too.
Take a few minutes to look for coupons on RetailMeNot.com. I found discounts at nearly every store we planned to visit and found a $10/$50 for Macys on Recyclebank.com.
I bought lots of shoe deals online this year. I took my daughter out after researching the online sites and had her try on different brands. We made notes on the sizes and then I ordered them online for at least 75%. Her soccer shoes would have cost $45 in the store but I paid $3 using an Eversave deal. I don’t let her pick anything too outrageous so that the shoes will go with all of her outfits. We found that we need two pairs of athletic shoes at the beginning of school plus one pair of dress shoes. Then winter boots and snow boots in the fall. Then we buy both kids sandals and new athletic shoes in the spring. We like to go to the StrideRite outlet since they offer coupons and have better prices than the mall stores.
What are your savings secrets for back-to-school?