Back to School Clothing

Back to school clothing sales: How to find fall fashion for less

It's amazing how fast they grow. And as soon as they stop growing, they discover fashion.

Shopping for new school clothes is an autumnal rite of passage - one that can put a big dent in the family budget. If you are like most of us, your child's insistence that he or she simply must have those $200 sneakers only makes you dread the event even more. But there are plenty of solutions to this problem of getting new school clothes while staying out of the poorhouse.

Making a list is the first important step. There's no sense in spending money you don't have on things you don't need. It's basic economics. Sit down with your kids, preferably next to the closet, and ask them what they want and need. Use it as an opportunity to teach your kids. Pull out clothes that no longer fit or interest your child. Bag up the unwanted items and go shopping, your list and your offspring in hand.

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Age is a major consideration when it comes to your kids' clothes. Durability and ease of dressing are major considerations for the youngster, whereas the teen is facing complete social ostracism by not wearing the "cool" clothes. The younger child probably couldn't care less what he or she is wearing, the older child will have an opinion about everything, and the middle child will be, well, in the middle.

Thrift stores and yard sales are the very best choice for the younger child. Prices are low, and you can generally assume the item was well made. Poorly made articles of clothing rarely last long enough to be resold. Yard sales are listed in the local paper, and thrift stores are in the phone book. While you're hitting the thrift stores and yard sales, be sure to bring the rest of your kids. You'll be surprised at how your "cool" teen will be smart enough to discover great finds, thereby filling out your shopping list at a discount.

Consignment shops are the next step. Prices are a little higher, but so is the quality, and these shops are easy to find in the phone book. Often, you can bring clothes with you to the consignment shop and cash in on items you won't be wearing anymore. Bring all the kids and continue the adventure.

Finally, for everything you couldn't find elsewhere, it's time to hit the big stores. Check your local paper for sales, and avoid the name-brand bandwagon. A sock is a sock is a sock. This is also a good opportunity to teach your older child about the costs of real life. If he or she insists an expensive item really is necessary, offer to pay half, and hold him or her accountable for the other half. If your child really wants it, he or she will earn it. If not, well, you've saved yourself some cash and cut short future demands from your teen.

Happy shopping!

By Kate Johnson