How to Buy an Awesome Back to School Wardrobe on a Budget

Chances are you are deep in summer mode. Family vacations, swimming lessons, and summer BBQs are in full swing. But the back to school season will soon be upon us. The stores are getting ready and you can too! Especially if you’ll be buying your child’s back to school wardrobe on a budget. Shopping for school clothes on a budget is easier with a little pre-planning. Check out these tips for how to buy your child’s back to school clothes without breaking your budget!

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5 Tips for Buying a Back to School Wardrobe on a Budget

1. Take Inventory

The first step to buying back to school clothes on a budget is to take inventory of the clothes you already have at home. If you have hand-me-downs from friends and family or older siblings, this is time to see what currently fits.

Take this opportunity to clean out your kids’ clothes. Anything that doesn’t fit should be pulled to pass along. Clothes with stains or holes that make them unfit for school should be moved to a play clothes drawer.

Once you know what clothes you have you can figure out the clothes you need. Save yourself from spending money on expensive items like shoes or jeans when you already have usable pairs at home. This opens up the budget for the clothes your child really needs in their back to school wardrobe.

2. Make a List

After taking inventory of your kids’ closets, make a list of what you need to buy. Be as practical as you can. Underwear, shoes, socks, pants, coats, hoodies, and shirts.

Make a checklist for each of your kids and take it with you on your shopping trip. And check out this printable for keeping track of your kids’ sizes. It’s especially helpful if you have multiple kids to shop for. Or are sending kids shopping with Grandma and she needs to know what sizes to look for.

Creating the list is easy. Sticking to it is the hard part. When you hit the stores and see all the new clothes and great deals it’s tough not to go overboard and fill your cart.

Keep your list in front of you to keep you on track!

3. Make a Budget

This is perhaps the most obvious tip but to stick to a budget you first have to create one. And the budget shouldn’t come out of thin air. Take the time to figure out how much you can realistically spend on your kids’ back to school clothes.

If your monthly budget doesn’t have much wiggle room, consider setting aside a little money each month during the summer months for your back to school shopping.

One of my most successful back to school shopping on a budget maneuvers is saving all of our credit card points for the entire year then cashing them in for Target gift cards at the end of summer. I was able to purchase my daughter’s entire back to school wardrobe with those gift cards. Didn’t spend a dime. (Credit card purchases aside) But we pay it off every month.

Just like your shopping list, keep your budget in mind while you shop. In fact, write it on the top of your shopping list in bold ink so you can’t miss it.

4. Stick to the Basics

Kids clothes are adorable. And it’s easy to overbuy. Especially when you’re having fun with your kid shopping for clothes. And it should be fun. Otherwise stay home and do it online. I like to make a day of it and take my daughter to lunch. So, it’s less about the stuff than enjoying a little time together before school starts.

Sticking to a clothes budget means being practical. When you’re shopping, prioritize the necessities. Make sure your child has underwear, socks, and shoes that fit before you buy a party dress or expensive shirt just because it has the Jurassic Park logo on it (or Paw Patrol or is just an upscale name brand).

And if it’s cold where you live, they’ll need a coat that fits.

Make sure you have several t-shirts and pants, or whatever your child typically wears every day. If your daughter wants a big poofy dress or a pair of sparkly shoes, make sure she has the necessary daily wear clothes and shoes first. Then you can see what extras there is room for in the budget.

I do try to save some money for a dress or fancier shoes, or something fun once the basics are bought. 

Choosing a few basic colors for your child’s back to school wardrobe can help you get the most use out of your kids’ clothes. If most things are in similar colors and most things match and can be paired up it makes both shopping AND getting kids’ dressed every day much easier.  

5. Shop Summer Sales AND Back to School Sales

Where I live September is often every bit as warm as August so the Fall sweaters have to wait. Back to school sales can be amazing. And you should definitely try to find out when they’re happening at your favorite stores. Target, Gymboree, Old Navy, and many other stores have great deals on back to school clothes.

But don’t miss out on SUMMER SALES! Often summer sale racks have t-shirts and skirts that can be worn all year. My daughter likes to wear these water socks year round as her regular shoes. They work just fine when it’s cold (although not when it’s wet).

Summer sales often start soon after the Fourth of July. So don’t waste any time checking out the deals you can get on kids’ clothes this summer.


What’s your favorite tip for saving money on back to school clothes? Share in the comments!

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  1. Jenn
    July 20, 2018

    Making a list will definitely help with avoiding the impulse purchases. It can be so easy to go over budget. Great tips!

  2. Jessica
    July 20, 2018

    My kids have only been out of school since the end of June, so it is hard to think about back-to-school shopping. Great tips though! My favorite places to shop for them are Old Navy, Abercrombie Kids, Target and Carters (for the youngest one).

  3. Sayed Ibna Noor
    July 27, 2018

    My Cousins have only been out of school since the end of June, so it is hard to think about back-to-school shopping. Great tips though! My favorite places to shop for them are Old Navy, Abercrombie Kids, Target and Carters.
    I Think I want To buy them like your dress
    Thank You

  4. Kristen
    August 1, 2018

    Great tips! The printable for keeping track of sizes will come in handy, I’m sure. It’s really tempting to overbuy, but this list will come in handy. Thanks so much!


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