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Saving on Back-to-School Fashion: A Guide to Staying Within Your Budget

Back-to-School shopping can get expensive quickly. New clothing and shoes are always at the top of the expense list, but this year, prepare to save. Here are tips on how to save on necessities and stay within your budget.

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For parents everywhere, the back-to-school season marks a time when a great deal of money is spent on items ranging from school supplies to sports equipment, and lunch materials to clothes. Clothing usually comes at the top of that list; children grow and their tastes change year-to-year. The cost of clothing adds up quickly and may put a gaping hole in your wallet or pocket. But, surprisingly, clothing can actually be the least expensive component of a back-to-school budget. There are several ways that can help you save a hefty amount on your children’s new school wardrobe, while making sure they are still up-to-date on the classroom trends.

1. Buy Secondhand. As one explores the history of fashion, it is generally observed that fashion repeats itself and always comes around for a second go on the stage. This reveals the first form of saving money on your kids” back-to-school wardrobe: buying second-hand. Second-hand stores are everywhere, and there are several around Colorado that sell gently used clothing that is high quality and cute to boot. Parents can find fashionable styles for their children that won’t break the bank but will still be the talk of the classroom. Todd Frick, owner of Kid to Kid in Aurora and Arvada, offers some back-to-school fashion shopping advice to parents, “A tip we use when shopping for our kids is shopping frequently. The selection of items we have changes by the 1000s each week. If mom didn’t find all the jeans, t-shirts or hoodies she needs, stop back in frequently to discover what is new.”

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2. Sell or Trade Last Year’s Clothes. But before you make the trip to your favorite, local secondhand store, take a look into your child’s closet and gauge what he or she already has. Some ensembles or items may be kept, and you may find that you would like to sell others. The money that you receive from selling old pieces can go back into buying new or used clothes, and will help you stay within your budget by keeping you from dipping into the funds for other school necessities. “It is not uncommon for mom to sell us enough of last year’s sizes and fashions and earn enough to cover, at least, most of what she is buying this season. So it’s not just less expensive, it could be very little, if any, out-of-pocket,” Frick said.

3. Get Creative. Building an inexpensive back-to-school wardrobe can also be done by the way of the infamous phrase, Do it Yourself. Just because a piece or outfit is older does not mean that it can’t be fashionable. There are hundreds of ways to update or add some glam and fun to older clothing. One of social media’s largest platforms, Pinterest, has thousands of pins that teach parents how to revamp an old wardrobe.

4. Swap Clothes. Hosting a clothing swap is a fun and interactive way to spend time with other parents and save a great deal of money. Hosting a swap like this does not take a lot of effort, it is easy to do and you can stay at home and relax while finding cute items for the kids. You can host a clothing swap every year; younger children are growing like weeds and will grow out of more clothing which leaves more to trade.

5. Build on Basics. Another way of saving money on your children’s school clothing is converting summer pieces to fall pieces and making sure to continuously keep basic pieces in their closet throughout the year. Basic tees, camisoles, tank tops and undergarments are clothing that you should continuously recycle throughout the year. When you keep these items then you only have to spend money on a couple of trendier items here and there.

With rapidly growing children and changing trends, back-to-school wardrobe shopping can be stressful and expensive. These tips are just some options and ways to stay within your proposed budget for school clothes shopping. Keep these tips in mind when taking the kids out and your shopping experience is guaranteed to be a great deal more enjoyable and stress-free. Have fun and happy shopping!

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This article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated for 2016.

Carolyn Williams

Carolyn Williams is a Denver native currently living it up in Charleston, South Carolina, covering everything from the craft beer world to the latest parenting topics.

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