It's that time of year again: school open house invitations are arriving in mailboxes, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils fills the air, and the newspaper is littered with back-to-school shopping ads. Even though I live for the thrill of a great bargain, I will not be hitting the stores. Except for a few notebooks and dry-erase markers, I will not be doing any back-to-school shopping.
I finished my kiddo's clothes shopping months ago.
Image Source: The Children's Place
Thrifty shopping may be socially acceptable since the economy took a nose dive a few years ago but it is nothing new for my family. My decision to stay at home with my son left us with one stagnant government employee income yet I was bound and determined to make our budget work. I learned how to find the best deals while my friends were still buying their infants new wardrobes every three months at the boutique mall stores. My baby was styling but at a fraction of the cost.
Now my son only goes up a size about once a year. I have his entire next size wardrobe (shoes included) waiting for him months before he grows into it.
By picking up a few useful habits and adapting a frugal frame of mind you can also spare yourself from the back-to-school shopping melee and save hundreds of bucks in the process.
Shopping is a year-round venture. It doesn't matter if you are shopping at Neiman Marcus or Walmart: there is no reason to buy your child an entire new wardrobe in one massive blast though the mall. Always be on the lookout for a deal even if it is an item not needed until next season or next year. When you run into Target for a quick birthday party gift make it a habit to swing by the kids shoes and clothing clearance racks. An extra five minutes (or less) can save you hundreds over the course of a year.
Buy off-season. This is the key to saving a bundle. Why buy a full price winter jacket in November when you can buy one for a fraction of the cost in January? The best deals are found at the end of the season. Your kids may not need any more long-sleeved shirts in March when they are 75% to 90% off, but you can stock up in the next size. Yes, it means you must plan ahead, but most parents have some idea of what their kids will need in the future. Your local climate, activities, and tastes determine what items you need to buy. Here in the deep South we can get by with a couple of long sleeved shirts and pairs of jeans each year but we can never have enough pairs of shorts. If I see them for cheap I snatch them up, knowing they will be worn.
School uniforms get marked down too. They may make many parents' lives easier but the cost can still add up if you buy all the pieces in August each year. Uniform basics (khaki pants & primary color polos) are cleared out late in the fall to make room for holiday clothes. Pick up spare pieces or the next size up for next to nothing and you won't have to go on a spending spree next fall.
Vinobaby is a sassy, savvy, someday novelist sipping her way to suburban sanity one cheap glass of wine at a time. Discover more of her musings and rants at http://vinobaby.blogspot.com .