Monday, August 5, 2013

Shopping for back to school deals

Having to shop for all new clothes before school starts can kill the budget.  Let's face it, clothes are expensive and kids grow way too fast.  As kids get older, they want brand names, expensive sneakers, the most expensive things that a lot of parents don't have the money for.  I have found ways to get around spending a fortune on my kids clothing for back to school (and year round!). 

1.  Consignment shops.  Many places have kids consignment shops that go from newborn to size 14/16.  Here you can find lots of deals.  The clothes may or may not be brand new, but most places are really choosy when it comes to taking clothing in, so chances are, you'll find some clothes in great condition for a cheap deal.  If you shop in the off season, you'll find even better deals.  For instance, I shopped at a local kids consignment at the beginning of the summer.  I was able to find a ton of winter clearance marked at 75% off the tagged price, which was already super low. I got 7 items, including two Gap dresses, 1 boutique sweater, a pair of heavy cords, 2 jean skirts from Old Navy and a Patriots Jersey for my son for $7 total!! 

2.  Yard Sales.  There are a ton of people looking to get rid of their old stuff for super cheap.  One summer I found a house that was selling all of their son's clothes that he grew out of for $1 each.  I was able to dress my kid that year in all almost brand new Gap pants and jeans for $10.  I didn't have to buy him any more pants that fall!  Scour the yardsale ads in the newspaper, look for ads on Craigslist, and ask around.  And if the yardsales you find dont have your kiddos size, pass the info on to someone who has a child that size/age.  Your friends will love you for passing on a good bargain!

3.  Have a kids clothing swap!  Invite your friends with kids over.  Have them bring whatever outgrown kids' clothes they have.  Make sure you have friends with kids who are a variety of ages and sizes so everyone can leave there with something.  The less worn, the better, so kids can have what look like brand new items.  This works with your outgrown clothes, too!  Set up your livingroom or backyard as a clothing store.  Arrange items by size, and let everyone shop! 

4.  Buy in advance.  When you are at your favorite stores, hit the clearance bins and racks.  Don't see a winter coat or a pair of shoes in your kiddo's size but they have one two sizes bigger?  If it is at a HUGE discount and you know you can't buy it for cheaper later on, buy it now!  I was once at Walmart and saw puffy winter coats for $1.  Yes, seriously, $1.  They had none in my kids sizes, just 0-3 mos and size 14/16.  My kids were in size 3 and 8 at the time.  But you know what?  They'll grow into them and when else am I going to find another winter coat for $1?  So I grabbed 2.  Now, when my son is going to play in the snow, I have backups incase he gets his good coat wet.  Plus, at that price, if it gets ripped while he's playing, I really don't care. 

5. Shop the sales!!!  Do not impulse buy.  Do your research.  My favorite sales of all time are the Old Navy stuff and save.  Every few months, they have a promotion where you walk in, grab a shopping bag, and everything you can stuff inside is an additional 30% off, or 40% if you use their store credit card.  Everything is usually included in this sale.  This is a great time to buy things that you normally need, jeans, shirts, coats, socks, pajamas, undies, etc.  AND.....  if you shop the clearance bins, you get an additional 30-40% off the clearance price! I have gotten things for around 60 cents this way, no lie! The last time I shopped this sale, I ended up getting 21 items for $32 and that included long sleeve tees, pajama sets, shoes, bathing suits, one piece outfits for the baby, and leggings for my girls.

6.  Sign up for coupons.  My favorite coupon stores are Gap, Old Navy, The Children's Place, Crazy 8, Gymboree, Carters and Osh Kosh.  They all send out a ton of coupons!   Go to their websites, and sign up with your email address. You can print and use in store, or you can shop with them online. Target has an app on the phone where you get coupons texted to you, which saves me a ton, too!

7. Ask for deals.  In a store, find a piece that you love and its at a price that you cant afford?  Ask if there is a coupon.  Or ask if the person knows when its going on sale.  The associates usually know when a sale is going to start, or they may have coupons behind the register for customer appreciation.  Most stores dont want to lose a sale, so they will go the extra mile to make the customer happy.  Plus, if you are in a store and they dont have a specific size or color that you are looking for, ask if they have a coupon for free shipping online so you can order the correct one.  You'd be surprised how often the associate will say yes!  (Disney store is great for this!)

8.  Google, google, google!  When shopping, and I do this for ANY type of shopping.... clothes, housewares, groceries, etc, google the product and "coupon" or "Discount code".  You will be shocked at how many times you will find positive results!  I almost never pay for shipping on items, and I almost always find a usable coupon for the items I am shopping for.  It may be a discount on a specific item (20% off one pair of jeans at your searched store) or it may be a coupon for a total purchase ($5 off your $25 purchase at a certain store) or you may find a free shipping code. 

9.  Outlet stores!  There are a lot of outlets out there.  There is some stigma around the thought of outlets, but I have never had a bad experience with them.  Most clothing in outlets is leftovers of discontinued colors or styles, or last years items.  Most of it is in perfect condition.  There are some sections for returns, for example our local LL Bean outlet has a bin for returned monogrammed items.  How lucky would you be if you found a backpack at an outlet like this, with your kids initials, at 80% off the retail price?!?!  I love shopping the Reebok outlet.  I always have good luck buying shoes for the whole family there.  They usually have a buy 1, get 1 half price sale, plus they send me coupons.  I have plans to go buy both of my big kids new sneakers for school using the buy1 get 1 half off deal.  Most of their sneakers are around $30-$90 instead of the original $50-$130.  So if both of my kids pick higher end Reebok sneakers in their sizes, I'd be paying maybe $135.  Plus, I have a $25 coupon off a $75 purchase.  So I am estimating that my total for back to school sneakers (for top of the line Reeboks) will be $110 for two pairs, instead of the $260 that I could be paying if I paid full price at a sports store. 

Happy shopping and good luck with the deals!!!!!  I hope I have been a big help!  Let me know if you know of other good bargains!!  And let me know if you try my tips and how much you saved.  I love hearing that my followers are using my tips!

UPDATE:  Today I took the kiddos sneaker shopping at the Reebok outlet, as promised.  And the big news is that I came in WAY UNDER BUDGET!  We got two pairs of Reebok sneakers (really nice ones, too) and my total was $84.96!  Every regular outlet price shoe was buy one get one half.  They also had a large section of shoes that were on sale for 2 pairs for $99.99, and a smaller section of 2 pairs for $60. It included mens, womens, and kids shoes.  Plus, the clothes, backpacks and socks were all on sale, too, some were an additional 60% off!   I recommend shopping there for your back to school sneaker shopping!  Don't forget to sign up for coupons! 

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