We’ve got Frugal Fashion Tips for Kids when you’re shopping for back-to-school clothes. These will help your kids to look nice, be a little trendy, and not cost a fortune. We outfitted 5 kids with wardrobes each year. We also found lots of ways for them to look fashionable while staying within our frugal spending limits.
5 Ways to Save on Fashionable Back-To-School Clothes
Parents spend a lot of money for Back-to-school sales for clothing each year. According to a Parents.com survey of 1000 families, 60 percent said that they would spend more on back-to-school clothes for their children than they will on school supplies. The survey revealed that these parents are expected to spend on their children about $130 for clothes and $48 for school supplies. (You might want to read our article on back-to-school supplies savings here.)
National statistics for kids clothing expenses are all over the board. So, we’d like to focus on five ways that you can reduce what you spend on back-to-school clothes. Whether you shop thrift stores, fashion outlets or not. As with any expense, when you’re spending great amounts of money, there are always a great number of ways to save.
Fashion Tips for Kids #1: Start with a Clothing Inventory
We inventoried our kids’ clothes twice each year. If you have several children, start with the more easy going one first. Then tackle the fashion challenged, more difficult child. And finally finish up with the rest of the kids—that’s the way Annette survived this task.
As you get better at conducting your inventory and as your kids get older, you can have several children going through the task at the same time. Here are the steps:
The Individual Evaluation Process
Have each child evaluate all clothes in their drawers, closet and any bins, being careful to include accessories.
Bring the outgrown or unwanted items into another room.
We used our family room and designated a specific area for each child’s rejected clothes to be neatly stacked. Annette reviewed the stack together with the child. Sometimes she asked them to reconsider a discarded selection. This piling, sorting and evaluating process will help you move through the clothes much quicker.
Let the bargaining begin.
It was amazing to watch our kids haggle with each other over certain clothing items. All our kids managed their own money and bought their own clothes, from the time they were 8-11 years old. Because of this, there were times when their special hand-me-downs, were traded or sold to younger siblings. This didn’t happen all of the time, only with more expensive – “cool” clothes.
Fashion Tips for Kids #2: Build a List with Each Child
As you eliminate clothing items and add hand-me-downs, build a written list of what each child would like to have to round out their wardrobe. Of course with younger children, this task will fall squarely on your shoulders, but with pre-teens and teens, they can take almost all of the responsibility.
Help your kids to prioritize the greatest needs as “A” priorities or “Needs” and the less important items as “B” priorities or “Wants.” This will help your kids understand that life is full of choices and priorities. It’s a great way to help them understand budgeting principles too. Especially if you do as we did and allow them the privilege of buying their own clothes with money they earned.
Help them include accessories in their lists. Include things like shoes, socks, undergarments and also scarves, gloves, jackets, coats, and boots. Also, consider planning and obtaining a nicer outfit for each child, so if your family is invited to a special event, like a wedding, holiday, business party or fancier church event, they’ll be ready.
Fashion Tips for Kids #3: Consider Buying Used
Have you ever considered shopping chain thrift stores like Goodwill, Savers or Kid to Kid for back-to-school clothes? Remember that smaller local thrift or consignment stores that benefit non-profits (hospice or animal rescues) in your area may have some great deals too. These local stores can discount their clothes heavily since volunteers often staff them. We have found amazing deals for our kids at these places, and our kids dressed as nice or nicer than their peers. Be sure you know the “deal days” for each of the stores you’re planning on visiting. These discount days can really make a difference in what you pay.
Fashion Tips for Kids #4: Start Early / Finish Late
Start your thrift store and consignment store shopping early in the season, as other parents in your area will be scouring the stores for deals too. If you start early you’ll be sure to get the best quality for the lowest price, so don’t procrastinate. There is usually a glut of items donated over the summer as families are moving or cleaning things out. Plus many families are on vacation during the summer, so shopping volume is down, meaning you are more likely to find some of the best picks early in the summer.
Don’t worry about getting everything your kids’ need in one week. If winter clothes selections are dismal, wait until the fall. If you buy used clothing just before the cold weather hits, your thrift and consignment stores should be full of warm weather clothing.
Fashion Tips for Kids #5: Kids with Expensive Tastes
So what do you do if you’ve got kids who love buying clothes at the mall and haven’t been very frugal in the past, but this year, money is tight?
We suggest coming up with a reasonable amount that you can afford to spend for each child. Then communicate with them about what that amount is. If they want to buy items that exceed their budget, allow them to earn the difference and buy the clothes themselves. As your retail-minded, less frugal child sees the treasures his siblings are finding at thrift or consignment stores, they may be reformed in their thinking.
Back-to-School fashion doesn’t have to break the bank. It can be kind of fun and exciting as you uncover great bargains and fancy clothing deals. Giving your kids the opportunity to participate in the evaluating, planning and shopping. This will give them a greater appreciation for the clothes they wear and the money it costs to keep them fashionable.
If you want more information on how we manage our clothing expenses for kids and adults read the Clothing: Looking Better, Spending Less chapter in our book, “America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money.”
Also visit our Money Saving Tips Clothing Page for more ideas!