Archive for the ‘Budgetting For School’ Category

After last weeks post, “August Is – Back To School” I felt I should clarify that while I love The Children’s Place, Old Navy, & GAP (among other children’s stores) I never spend a ton of money on my kids clothes.  Let’s face it, school is expensive!  For families like us who are a one-income household, having to buy both the supplies and clothes your children will need for the year could quite possibly break the bank.

So how do I buy my kids name brand clothes without spending all our hard-earned cash?

I may have said this before but in case I haven’t, we are huge budgeters.  We have a pretty tight system that helps us make sure we can have what we need and want as long as we shop wisely.  We are also excel nerds.  Yes, I have an inner nerd.  We have our yearly budget all worked out nicely on a beautiful little spread sheet, that rarely needs some minor tweaking due to price changes (we usually only tweak it at the end of the year when figuring out the new years budget).  So here’s how school budgeting works for us…

The Budget

We’ll start with my nerdy-ness or, as I prefer, savvy organizer.  My spreadsheet is very basic (I wish I could download it here for you so you could see it but I couldn’t get it to work.  I guess my inner nerd doesn’t run deep enough.).  It is divided by the kids names (along the top) and the clothing items they’ll need; pants, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, socks, everything (along the left side).  I then figure out how many of each item they’ll need and what I know is the lowest price I can get it for and figure out a total for that item.  For instance I know that denim goes on sale at Old Navy and The Children’s Place for $10 in the fall.  So if my oldest daughter needs 5 pair of jeans I’ll take 5 x $10 and know that I wont need to spend more than $50 on jeans for her for the school year.  $10 is a great price for jeans!  Take a look here to see that you can’t even get that price at Walmart.  So by paying attention to annual sales I’m able to keep school clothing costs down low.

Last Years – This Year!

Take advantage of end of season sales.  It’s a HUGE money saver and as long as you leave the tags on, store them in a nice place (I have a Rubbermaid container in my basement) and wait to pull them out until the new school year (or whenever you need them, since I do this for summer also) your kids will be thrilled with the “new” items.  Some people don’t like to do this because they think the styles will change over the next year, but honestly how much do styles change in one year?  Especially kids.  Graphic tees have been basically the same for as long as I can remember.  Plus I usually get name brand clothes, even GAP and Gymboree for $2.99 or less by taking advantage of the end of season sales!  You can’t get still tagged items that cheap at a garage sale or second-hand store.  My kids wear last year’s sale items a lot and LOVE opening up that Rubbermaid to see what surprises await them.


We do a lot of what I call pre-shopping or, one might call it, on-line browsing.  We go to our favorite stores, fill our shopping carts full of what clothes the kids want and then we wait, and wait, and wait until those items come down to the price we’ve allotted for those them.  I check in every other day, if not daily, to watch the sale prices and catch deals while they are there.  I’ve learned to buy some things on-line because other people are watching those sales also and items go fast.  (If you buy on-line be sure you have a “free shipping” coupon or you may not end up saving money.)

Pre-shopping is not only handy for keeping an eye on deals, but it also comes in handy when out shopping.  By pre-shopping my kids have narrowed down what they want and time at the mall or stores doesn’t take as long.  Before we go for the big day of school shopping I’ll print off our shopping carts and we go to the stores with their favorite items, and where the best deals are, and grab the items we need.  It saves us a lot of times standing around the stores trying to decide what they want.

What If It Doesn’t Go On Sale?

My oldest daughter has asked me this a few times over the last couple of years, as I’m sure her siblings will also when they start to care more about what they are wearing.  My answer, “Then it wasn’t meant to be.”  We have a limit as to what we’re willing to spend and if the items they want don’t fall into that price range then we don’t get it.  Yes, this can be a bummer.  I too have had to pass up something I want because it’s not cheap enough or the item is gone in my size by the time it goes on sale.  Admittedly I get very disappointed by this but such is life.  In the words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want.”

We do, however, allow our kids to go over the budgeted price for a certain item if we’ve hit an awesome sale and are way under budget for that or another category.  For instance my son really wanted a t-shirt that was more than I would have normally paid for it but all of his other tee’s were $3 so I let him get that one because with it we were still under budget.

The Goal

The main goal of budgeting, for us anyway, is to get what we want and need at a price that we can afford.  Or better yet, less than we can afford.  It’s difficult to do but once we’ve hit our projected expenditures we don’t spend anymore, no matter how irresistible that cute sweater may be.  The best feeling is when we’ve gotten everything we need and we’re under budget!  Love having a dresser and closet full of new clothes with money to spare!

Other Tips

Don’t be afraid to hit garage sales and second-hand stores.  You’ll find still tagged items, or clothes that look brand new, at really great prices.  But be careful.  Know what you can get for it on sale, brand new, never been worn from the store.  I’ve found those end of year sales are cheaper than second-hand stores and garage sales but if you weren’t able to get everything you needed at that time, these are great places to shop too.

And one last tip…

Old Navy has $10 denim going on right now…

…As well as The Children’s Place, plus they have $7 long sleeve graphic tees!


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