Smart Ways to Save on Back to School Clothes Shopping
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Smart Ways to Save on Back to School Clothes Shopping

The following is a guest post by Toni Anderson from The Happy Housewife

According to the National Retail Federation, parents spend nearly $400 dollars on clothes and shoes for their children. That’s way more than they spend on books or supplies!

However, dressing your kids for back to school doesn’t need to be super expensive. Here are a few smart ways to save on their wardrobes:

1. Shop the Sales

Retailers are competing for your back to school shopping business. Check the Sunday ads to see which stores are offering the lowest prices on kids’ clothing. Many stores mail coupons directly to your home and you can also use apps like Coupon Sherpa to find coupons while you are shopping. Avoid the busy mall all together by shopping the sales online. Use sites like Ebates or for additional discounts and exclusive sales for your favorite stores.

Remember, most stores have their summer clothes on clearance right now. Buy a size or two bigger than your children are currently wearing so you’ll have spring and summer clothing at a fraction of the cost.

2. Repurpose clothes from last year

Many spring and summer items that your children already have in their closets work for the first few months of the school year. Pair skirts and shorts with tights and leggings to wear them throughout the fall and early winter. Short sleeved shirts can be layered with a hoodie or cardigan. Even jeans that are a little too short can be paired with boots or cuffed for the ankle length look.

3. Attend clothing swaps

Organize or participate in a clothing swap at the local community center or church. Parents bring clothes their children have outgrown and trade them for new-to-them clothes from another family. The amount of clothes someone can take home is based on how many pieces they bring to the swap. This is a great way to complete a back to school wardrobe without pinching your pennies.

4. Search thrift stores

A great thrift store is better than any sale at the mall. Thrift stores are usually overflowing with children’s clothes since they’re outgrown so quickly. When you’re in the store, look for high quality clothes with no rips, tears or missing buttons and test zippers to make sure they work. Make sure to wash all items after purchase and before wearing since they have most likely been kept in storage.

5. Restore hand-me-downs

Hand-me-downs are another free option that can be added to back to school wardrobes and can look like new again by treating lightly stained or soiled clothing. Try a chlorine free, color safe powder formula like Oxiclean Versatile Stain Remover. Simply add a scoop of powder to your regular laundry load in the washing machine or, for extra stubborn stains, first soak clothes overnight in a water and the cleaning solution. Then add to your regular wash load.

Back to school clothes shopping doesn’t need to break the bank. Savvy shoppers can combine sales, last year’s clothing, and hand-me-downs to create a fun and inexpensive wardrobe. Teaching kids these savvy tips when they are young will help instill healthy spending habits when they are older.

Toni Anderson is a military wife and stay at home (schooling) mom to seven kids. She is also founder of, a resource for those who want to better manage their homes and receive real life, practical ways to live well, save more and have fun!

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