It’s easy enough to find pens and pencils on the cheap, but clothing your child for the new school year is a whole different story. Studies show that when it comes time for back-to-school shopping, clothing blows basic school supplies out of the water in terms cost.
According to a 2012 survey from Parenting.com and Women and Co., the average back-to-school spending per child is $131 for clothes, versus just $48 for school supplies. Over half of moms said they expect to spend more on clothing than any other kind of back-to-school products, and nine out of ten moms spend more on new clothes for their children than on clothes for themselves.
The cost isn’t exactly hard to believe – when they’re young, kids grow out of their clothes on what seems like a weekly basis, and as they grow older it’s not uncommon for kids to develop a taste for pricier shoes, shirts and jeans. As a parent it can certainly be tough to keep this cost under control. We chatted with Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com and deals-focused author, to get tips on clothing your kids for the new school year without blowing the budget.
Go in with a plan
Nelson emphasizes the importance of having a plan. “Before you leave home to buy new school clothes, backpacks and supplies, sit down and plan what you need to purchase with your student,” Nelson says.
Find shoe deals
“The back to school season is the busiest time of year for shoe sales,” says Nelson. “As a result, stores have many special promotions to get buyers’ attention including buy one, get one free sales. Check in your newspaper circular and online for shoe deals.
Buy the right backpack
“For younger children, the backpacks at drugstores may be all they need,” says Nelson. “As students get older, it may be worth investing in a higher quality backpack to last several years. You can expect a good backpack to last a few years and provide the necessary support and padding for heavier books.”
Don’t forget coupons
As the founder of CouponMom.com, Nelson has plenty of strategies for finding the best deals. “Check your store website for promotions and sign up for their email newsletter. Also find your favorite retailers’ Facebook pages and “like” them to learn about special deals and coupons.” Nelson also recommends checking advertising circulars from the newspaper, shopping at outlet malls and finding online or printed coupons from your favorite retailers.
Take advantage of tax-free day
Nelson points out that several states have tax-free holidays that can keep the cost of back-to-school clothing purchases down. A state-by-state list of tax-free holidays can be found here.
Time your shopping carefully
Don’t feel pressured to go shopping at the height of back-to-school season. Nelson recommends waiting “until a few weeks into the school year to stock up on new clothes to take advantage of later-in-the season sales and give your child time to see what new styles they like.”
Stay tuned over the next couple weeks for as we cover more ways to keep costs down as you and your family prepare for the coming school year.