When my kids were little, it was relatively easy to buy them back to school clothes, shoes, and supplies. In grade school, the latest Disney or Harry Potter movie dictated the theme of backpacks, lunch boxes, and even clothing. As children age, however, they become more difficult to buy for; each child develops his or her own style, and this can translate into a lot of money out of a parent’s pocket!
How, then, can both your teenager and you be happy after back to school shopping is complete? You may want to give one or more of these tips a try:
1. Set a clothing allowance limit.
The dollar amount you give your child for school clothes is up to you. The important component is letting your teen decide what to buy with the money. This is a win – win situation. Your child will learn that money only goes so far, and you will not be sucked into spending more than you can afford. In addition, a teen who buys only one or two expensive items has to live with the consequences of “having nothing to wear!”
2. Shop online.
Some items can be purchased easily online, including shoes and backpacks. During this time of year, many web sites also offer free shipping. If you live in a part of the country that doesn’t have a lot of stores, going online is a quick way to compare prices…and to save gas. One site I’ve had good luck with is bizrate.com. Most recently I purchased a pair of back to school shoes my daughter wanted, and I saved at least $10.00 by doing a bizrate search.
3. Take advantage of store merchandise credit offers.
An office supply store near my home gives merchandise credits, up to $10.00 per month, for used ink cartridges. During the months of July and August, I plan to use the $20.00 I earn in credits to obtain necessities for school, such as notebook paper, folders, pens, and pencils.
4. Bring out last year’s backpack.
Did you know that many backpacks can be washed? Older children may agree to use a backpack another year if you can guarantee you will be able to freshen it. This doesn’t work for all backpacks, but it does on many brands. (A side note about backpacks is that you can purchase them at the end of the school year for a minimal price. As with all types of shopping, if you think ahead, you can save a lot of money by buying the season before).
5. Consider buying “staple” clothes at discount stores.
Socks don’t really “matter” to my teen daughters, so I am able to purchase them at Dollar General for a fraction of the price they would cost at an upscale department store. In addition, my son accepts boxer briefs from Target, as he concedes “no one will see them.”
Back to school shopping for teens can be expensive (and difficult), but with these tips, maybe it won’t be so bad!