Back to School Shopping on a Budget

This blog was featured on The Modern Parent, a segment of The Rhode Show. Click here to view this episode.


Although the calendar says summer, school shopping is right around the corner. Don’t wait until the last minute to find the deals and back to school clothes. If you are like most parents, you have children growing like weeds and trying to buy clothes on tight budget isn’t easy. Don’t worry if your children don’t have a full year of school clothes to begin with. All they needs is several outfits that they can mix and match to start off with and add as you go.  Here are some tips to save you time and money as you venture through getting ready for back to school.

·Before you shop:

Take inventorysort through your children’s clothing. Decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you need to discard due to worn or too small.

Do a wardrobe update: Just because it may have a hole or a stain doesn’t mean you have to throw it away? Tie-dye some of those old shirts into some vibrant colors. Sew on some patches on those knees in the jeans or add some other crafts to scarves and hats. You will be surprised what you can transform from boring into to a great fashion statement.

Sell and buy: Sell your old clothes that are in good condition but no longer fit. You can sell at second hand stores or eBay. The money you get from the clothes you can use towards purchasing new ones. What is someone’s trash is someone else’s is treasure. Somebody will make good use of it.

·Do a swap

Get friends together and swap out clothes. It may not be new to your daughter but to your daughter’s friend it is. You can send out flyers around the neighborhood. Were having a back to school clothing swap. Put some burgers on the grill and shop away. It’s fun, it saves you money, and maybe less you have to buy.

·Have a plan

Start early: whatever you do, don’t wait till the week before school begins. You will be more apt to grab whatever you can. This will cost you a lot more money.

Make a budget: if you start small and add, you will be very surprised how much you can accumulate in a few short weeks. 1st week by underwear, t-shirts, socks, and some sneakers, second week, some shirts, third week some pants, fourth week a jacket and so on.  By buying in small amounts you get more than just spending all in one shot.

·Shopping time

Sales: You can find some great deals during the summer. But your real savings begin after school starts. Near the end of September beginning of October you can save even more money if you buy a few things before school and then add to their wardrobe during these months.

Off peak:  Money saving tips is during off peak seasons. If you can buy winter clothes in April and buy summer clothes in September.  You can save a bundle during off peak times. Coupons: Combine sales with coupons and save, save, save! Some stores will offer more of a discount if you use their charge.

Splurge: Teens especially get a lot of pressure from peers as to what they wear or buy and if it is name brand or not. Let your child pick one item to splurge on. It will make them extremely happy and you as well.


Don’t spend a bunch of money on foolish things. As long as you have a plan in place, budget, and truly evaluate wants versus needs, you will be able to save some money and not break the bank. Make it fun by making a list together and setting dates for three months of shopping. This is shopping day, it will be something for your children to look forward to and you get to spend some quality time together. 


Kelli Didomenico brings over 20 years of experience to her role at The Children's Workshop as Director of Parent and Community Relations.  She engages and welcomes families into the TCW family and to ensure that their experience with us is always top notch. Kelli earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Rhode Island College.  She was the Director and Owner of her own School Age Program and a Program Manager for Therapeutic child care before rejoining the TCW team in 2010.  She is also a very active member of the communities we serve.