Simplify Back to School Shopping

10 Easy Ways to Simplify Back to School Shopping

You may be super excited that summer is almost over and the kids will be back in school.  Or, you may be dreading the back to school shopping to get the kids ready for school and wish you had just a few more weeks before school starts.  You are looking for ways to simplify back to school shopping right now!

You may be reading this partway through the school year and realize your kids have outgrown all of the clothes you bought in August and now you need to do the school shopping all over again!

No matter where you are on the spectrum of back to school shopping, you know that it has the potential of being a huge job.  You are not alone!  Somewhere along the way, these simple changes made our back to school shopping so much easier!  Every summer, the sudden need to compulsively buy a whole new wardrobe was extremely overwhelming.

Where do you put all the new stuff when your closet and dresser are still full?  How do you afford a new wardrobe every year – especially if you have more than one child?  There goes the budget and now we are in debt to pay off the back to school clothes and supplies.  And finally, coming up with answers to the question “are we done yet?”

Simplify Back to School Shopping

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We started this annual ritual along with the rest of American society.  The ads start coming out with pictures of the new clothes, great back to school sales, and feeling like my children needed a whole new lot of clothing before that magical first day of school each year.

We pulled out the credit card, packed up the ads (this started when the ads actually came in the mailbox and not on Facebook, Instagram, email, etc).  Then we began the circuit of stores that had “all the deals” and swiping the credit card.

I had a budget number in my mind of how much we would spend, but then there would be this really great sale and “oh, Mom, I really, really love this shirt!  I’ll wear it all the time” and into the basket and onto the credit card it would go.

If I said no, we had already spent too much, the frustration would mount.  “But it’s only $5, Mom!” So were the last 15 items!

The New Plan – Who Has the Wallet?

So, one year, we developed a strategy to simplify back to school shopping!  I’m sure we were inspired from somewhere to start this idea, but I really don’t remember where.  We looked at our spending for the past few years to see what we had been spending on school clothes.  Then we went to the bank and actually withdrew the money.

We gave each of our children their portion in cash and encouraged them to plan carefully.  We would give them some more clothing money at Christmas time, but they needed to really think about what they actually needed.

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  • Taking Inventory

We helped them go through their current closet and dresser.  They tried on the pants and jeans that had been forgotten in lieu of shorts for the summer.  They tried on shirts, sweaters, and shoes.

We made a list of what they had and what they needed.  I also explained that this clothing allowance needed to cover everything they needed.  This would include underwear, shoes, and socks as well.  I would still take care of their church clothes because we shopped for sales for dresses and dress shoes all year round.

  • Checking for Sales

Armed with their lists and money in their wallets, we next looked through the ads and decided which stores we needed to stop at.  This was a new game!  The hunt for good deals and the weighing of need vs. want began.

The struggles were real, but this year, they were not my struggles.  It was magical!  The decisions and choices were no longer a battle between the kids and me, but now it was a struggle between them and their wallet!  Back to school shopping had become so much easier!

  • Making Hard Choices

My oldest quickly decided that tennis shoes are really expensive and the ones she had gotten a few months earlier still fit and were still in good shape.  She didn’t really need a brand new pair of shoes on the first day of school.

My youngest decided that her money stretched much farther at a local resale shop and we spent many hours looking through good quality, gently used clothing to find the right things for her.

When we started this new process of back to school shopping, we lived in the Midwest.  School started in the middle of August when it was still quite warm for another 6-8 weeks at least.  We encouraged the girls to think about the shorts they had or buy a few pairs of shorts (which were on a huge clearance sale by this time) and wear shorts for the first few weeks of school.

Then, when it got cooler, they could shop for pants.  This also ensured that the pants would actually fit and not be too short by the time they needed them.

Both of our children have late-summer birthdays, so we often got clothes for them for their birthdays.  We watched to see what choices they made and which things they really wanted but had to put back and would go back later and surprise them with one or two of these items.

Simplify back to school shopping

Second Chance with the Wallet

The second part of school clothes shopping happens in November, in our family.  Black Friday or the day after Thanksgiving is one of the largest sale days of the entire year.  This is when we dispersed the rest of the clothes money to the kids.

Boots, socks, scarves, sweaters and sweatshirts and you name it are all on huge sales.  Often you can shop online from home if you don’t enjoy shopping with the masses.

Sign up for Rakuten!  If you are shopping online, be sure to sign up for Rakuten before you do any online shopping!  This is a great site to click through first before heading to your favorite online store.  You will receive cashback for each purchase.  This year, I have received almost $300 in cash from the shopping I do anyway.

I purchase office supplies for my office, shop on Amazon, and many other sites and receive cashback for each of those purchases!  Right now, if you sign up through this link, you will receive your first $10 free.  Once you have signed up, you can share the love and link with your friends as well.  This time of year, stores often have a higher cashback rate during back to school sales.

Once we started this new way of back to school shopping, we have never looked back.  Simplifying the process of shopping for the back to school clothes and supplies, make the process so much easier!  Our kids have become savvy shoppers and know what they are willing to spend on different pieces of clothing or shoes.  They have learned the value of money and challenged their own wants vs. needs in their shopping decisions.

This has taught them to be careful with their budget and plan according to the needs they have.  They have also learned to look for unexpected places for clothes such as hand-me-downs, second-hand shops, and yard sales.

They’ve also learned that you pay for brand names and sometimes you don’t really want to simply buy a name.

Last night, I was helping my daughter sort through some things in her room.  She found an envelope with cash in it.  We talked about where the cash might have been from and finally, she remembered that it was some of last year’s clothes money!

It was actually nearly half of her allowance that she had saved because she simply didn’t need any new clothes!  What a lesson.  She had plenty and didn’t spend her money on things that she didn’t need.

Are you in the same boat?

Do you struggle with the back to school shopping and feel frustrated at holding the purse strings?

Do you cringe in October when the credit card bill comes and you realize just how much you actually spent on back to school clothes and items?

Try it out for your family this year.

  1. Give each child their clothing allowance.
  2. Go through the closet and dresser and try everything on.
  3. Try on all the shoes and make sure they still fit.
  4. Do an inventory of what they currently have.
  5. Make a list of what they currently need.
  6. Check the ads and sales. Look for additional coupons at JC Penneys, Old Navy, or other department stores.
  7. Wear shorts for a few more weeks.
  8. Plan ahead for purchases such as boots, sweaters, socks, and other items on Black Friday.
  9. Stay within your budget.
  10. Celebrate another new school year!

I’d love to hear about your back to school shopping traditions.  What do you do to simplify the back to school shopping in your family?  Take a minute to drop a comment in the box below!  Before you go, Pin this post or share it with a friend!  Be sure to sign up here, for Rakuten to save money on your online purchases throughout the year!

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