Plan to shop for school supplies in one outing, and for clothing on a separate trip. Make a list of what you'll need. School websites usually have lists of required school supplies; stick to that without adding extra items. See what you already have on hand, and let the kids raid the home-office supplies. Check the newspaper sales circulars for good buys at discount and dollar stores and at the office supply stores in your area. Knowing where you can get it all at a good price will save time and gas money. Plus, shopping at a couple of stores to complete the list is less frustrating than running all over town. Once you have all the school supplies, you can concentrate on back-to-school clothing purchases.
Go through your child's closet to determine what still fits, and make a list of what he needs. Prepare a budget and talk it over with your child. He will learn a lesson in responsibility and be less likely to be upset if you can't afford everything he wants. Agree to let the child pick out a couple of special items -- and set a budget for those, too.
Shop end-of-summer sales and get some great bargains on things like polo shirts and lighter-weight gear. Depending on your climate, she'll be able to wear a lot of these items well into fall and again in spring.
Discount stores are great for the basics: underwear, socks, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, jeans and khakis. But be careful not to overbuy. Kids grow fast, and you'll end up replacing items throughout the year to keep up with their growth spurts. Get the basic items needed to round out what they already have for the start of the school year. Once the initial back-to-school rush is over, most major retailers have sales and special coupon days with bargains on additional items. Sign up for email alerts and mailings from the stores you frequent so you'll be among the first to know when there's a sale. Most of these major retailers also have online stores with even greater selections; often, shipping is free. You'll be able to pick up additional items at reduced prices by watching for their special offers.
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