Back to school for the budget-minded

08/06/2013 8:00 AM

08/06/2013 10:42 AM

Well, we’re down to crunch time. How’s the back-to-school clothes shopping going? Did you hit up last week’s Tax-Free weekend in Missouri? I’m guessing not everyone heeded my prior advice about starting early and spacing it out. No worries. This week I’ve got you covered with some unique shopping options and different ways to save.

Before you hit the stores or burn up the keyboard (and your budget), do yourself a favor and make a list. How many pairs of new jeans does your child really need? What do you already have in stock? Shopping with a plan and a purpose will definitely help you avoid over-buying.

With a good list in hand, you’ll know which deals to seize, and which ones will only entice you to “save” your way to unnecessary purchases.

Retailers bombard us with e-mails, mailers and social media for back-to-school deals. Take advantage of them for the basics. For example, I just got an e-mail announcing $5 shorts from Old Navy and that is a great deal!

. Buy items that can be mixed and matched with different outfits. It’s a great way to give your kids some fresh looks and some extra mileage for your dollar. This may even be a great opportunity to buy ahead for next year and capture two years’ worth of savings in one shopping trip.

Did you know Kansas City is full of great “gently used” clothing stores? I’m a big fan of Plato’s Closet Teens love it and so do I, especially the casual wear section. Check out other consignment shops like Once Upon a Child, Rhea Lana’s, Arizona Trading Company and Ditto


Or you can always hit Marshall’s or TJ Maxx but, like the consignment shops, finding the right item/size/price can take some time and a little luck. But if you have a plan and allow yourself plenty of time to search multiple racks, it will result in big savings!

On the flip side, chances are you’ve got some items in your kids’ closets that are ready to recycle. I’ll bet your friends and family members do, too. Why not arrange a clothing swap party? Have everyone bring an appetizer, their favorite beverage and the gently used clothes their kids have outgrown. It’s a great excuse for a girls’ night and a chance to score a “new” item for nothing.

As you’re going through the kids’ closets, you may wind up with an entire wardrobe of outgrown clothes. It might lead to a similar cleansing in every closet. Hold an end-of-summer garage sale to subsidize your back-to-school expenditures. It could turn into a great lesson for your child: take stock of what you have, decide what the true necessities are, and sell old items to buy new ones. Everything has a price, and there’s a market for everything.

Whatever you do, don’t stress about it. Remember, your kid won’t need every piece of clothing at once. Keep hunting for the deals throughout the fall as well and capitalize on end-of-season sales. Focus on enjoying this next phase of your child’s life…and their wardrobe!

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click

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