Monday, August 17, 2015

Back To School Shopping On A Budget

It's that time of year again when children go back to school and stay-at-home parents can finally gets some free time. But before your children can go back to school, you need to replenish their wardrobe and purchase the list of supplies your child's school has undoubtedly sent to you by now. But what if your budget isn't flexible enough to afford what Americans spend an average of $300 per child on? Here are some money-saving tips.

 Currently there is a sale at Famous Footwear. Buy one, get one 50% off. Famous Footwear has always been my go to place for name brand athletic shoes. I found out that Foot Locker back to school sales are on leftover styles from the summer. At Famous Footwear the style are fall fashion so you won't be stuck with all white sneakers when the weather calls for all black. This saves you money by not needing to buy shoes again the coming winter. The sales reps are more helpful in finding the right fit. There's nothing worse than spending money on new shoes and having to replace them a month later. Joining their rewards program will save you an extra 15% on your bogo sale. I was able to buy $200 worth of youth sized Adidas and Converse for less than $100. When buying school shoes, don't try to get the coolest looking shoes. Go for the most versatile. All black shoes are a must. For my daughter I bought her a pair of boys Adidas in all black and a pair of girls Nike high tops in pink and gray. For the most part, her shoes will match every outfit. This saves so much more money.

Don't bother spending money on shoes at Target. They fall apart within days of purchase. The soles of the shoes are often glued on with a weak adhesive. Payless shoes are made to last longer. Not flopping shoe soles there. But the quality of the outer shoe is weak. The "leather" shoes peel, ripple, and images rub off with minimal effort. The shoe will last but will look run over in a month. There is one shoe that holds up well, Champion sneakers. I recommend purchasing them for a child that will be participating in sports.

Backpacks are another big expense. A basic Jansport backpack (the undisputed king of all school backpacks) can cost anywhere from $30 to $50 depending on the style and the store sale. I truly recommend sticking to this brand and no other. I still have mine from college and high school. They are virtually indestructible. They also come with a lifetime warranty. Every parent needs that. But don't spend extra money on the Hello Kitty and leopard print styles. One of the joys of owning a Jansport is decorating it your own way. Better to give your child the plainest version of the backpack with a pack of sharpies and a couple of rolls of decorative duct tape.

But if you miss the store sale and need one now, refer to Facebook. There are groups that are just for posting things you want to sell. People are selling the stylized versions of the backpacks for around $20. It really is a good buy new or used. Whatever you do, don't buy character backpacks. Children go through phases. Remember when Disney's Cars was all the rage? How about the remake of Cinderella? Does your child still want that gear you dropped all of that money on? Also, character backpacks are not meant to last. I bought my son, a die hard Batman fan, a Batman backpack shaped like the chest plate of the Batman costume. Halfway through the school year, the bottom had fallen out and the zipper had disappear. Not to mention it was difficult to spot my child in the sea of Batman backpacks. I handed down my old Jansport backpack and it shows no signs of wear. It does however have the Bat symbol etched onto it.

Check your community organizations for backpack giveaways. Churches, tribal organizations, boys and girls clubs all have some type of giveaway this time of year. Some school districts also have giveaways.

Despite all the hullabaloo about the non-gender specific signage in Target, it remains the best place to buy back to school clothing. Remember that with a Target gift card, debit, or credit card, you receive 5% off of your purchase. You also get a coupon in the mail for a $5 gift card if you spend $50. Target school supplies remain on sale through September, in case you need more time to figure out what you really need. How irritating is it to buy everything on the list the teacher sent home before summer only to be told the classroom provides everything? It happened to me last year.

Target is notorious for their $10 denim sales. This is the biggest reason to go. Target jeans last longer than the jeans from The Children's Place. They also have the lowest prices on the basic clothing pieces, solid tops, leggings, etc. Old Navy also has a fantastic denim sale. They last just as long as the Target brands in fact. But I chose not to purchase them simply because Target came with a 5% discount and a $5 gift card. That left enough money for some pencils and notebooks.

Don't waste money on character specific folders, notebooks, pencils etc. Your children will outgrow them, trade them, lose them and your money goes out of the window. Buy them a pack of stickers and let them go to town. Wait until school starts to buy binders and notebooks. Many classrooms provide these things.

Some other money saving tips:

  • Go to Costco with your friends and family. Divide up your shopping lists and share the bulk products. I bought bulk binders one year, my friend bought pens, another bought notebooks. For the price of the binders, I got binders, pens and paper. I saved money.
  • A way to make money is to put your warehouse store membership to work for you. Buy in bulk and sell to others at a price lower than other stores, yet higher than the unit price you paid.
  • Raid the office. You know those office supplies no one likes or uses but your boss can't send back? Ask if you can "donate" them to neighborhood kids who need school supplies.
  • Hand me downs are fantastic. Go for the denim, the sweaters and the coats.
  • Have a closet party for your kids. Bring last years school clothing and supplies and let the kids take turns taking what they need for this school year. Or, the parents can do this while the kids have a play date.

No comments:

Post a Comment