Dress To Impress

Think back to that first day of school after summer break: entering the halls for the first time in months, you knew you'd see your friends, your enemies, and, when you were in junior high, your secret crush. You wanted to wow them, or at the very least look like you belonged.

Your kids are now the ones hoping to make a triumphant return, and you can help. While back-to-school can be stressful for both kids and parents, it doesn't have to be: outfit them in the latest trends and save money in the process.

Catalogue the Closet

Before your big shopping excursion, go through your child's closet or dresser and take notes. Take stock of what they have that's still wearable, what's worn out and what doesn't fit or is something your child simply won't wear anymore. By doing this, you'll get a sense of how many pants, shirts, dresses, shoes, belts and underwear they really need to get through the school year, and also what items can be revitalized simply by matching with something new.

Kid Communication

After the review of the closet, talk with your child about the things he or she thinks are important to have to fit in. Go through catalogues or magazines together. This is the time to have any discussions about what's appropriate for school and what expectations he or she has about how many trendy clothes you will buy. Make sure to do this at home, not in the store, when emotions and impulses overrule reason and can lead to tears or arguments. Then when your child points to something that is not school-appropriate or is out of your price range, you can remind them of the conversation and agreements you had beforehand.

Shopping Serenity

If you follow these tips, not only will you know exactly what you need, you'll also have your child working with you, rather than against you. Another way to win them over? Shop at an off-price store that sells current-season designer and name brands, and show them how saving money and being smart about a budget will ultimately be to their benefit -- especially when they get more clothes for the money. Start their schooling a little early by sharing this valuable economics lesson with them!

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