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How to Afford Back to School Clothing and Accessories

By August, many parents may be ready to send the kids back to school, but back to school shopping is a whole other ball of wax. With so many purchases to make and many families strugglling to make ends meet, adding a big bill from the mall does not help the family budget.

In a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, parents are feeling the burden of school shopping and family finances will restrain spending during the 2011 ‘Back to School’ shopping season. It is reported that spending on both apparel and school supplies will decrease slightly from last year by those who were surveyed. Families are projected to spend $220.60 on apparel.  In comparison, families may spend slightly more than last year on shoes for a projected $88.99 in investment. As families take stock on what they have and what has to be replaced, the needs of growing children will dictate where the dollars are spent.

For families looking to stretch their dollars this school season, there are ways to make the grade without failing on finances.

Look in the closet. Families need to take a hard look in the closet and figure out what can be reused again by the same child or passed down to younger siblings. Last year’s clothing can be re-worked with new items for a fresh look. Last year’s jeans may not fit this year, but could be re-fashioned into a cool skirt with additional fabric. A shirt from last year that still fits can be given a makeover with some stencils and puffy paint.

Think vintage, not used.
Heading to a consignment store, a swap meet, or garage sale might seem “embarrassing” to some kids, but when parents are able to find a pair of designer jeans in great shape for cheap they would normally be unable to buy, many children will sing a different tune. Don’t forget that gently used name brand clothing can be found online, too, at places like eBay, Cheap Kids Clothes, and more.

Spend more on the good stuff. Splurging on a few key pieces like shoes, jeans, and coats can help parents have peace of mind that items will last longer. For quality name brand items look at sites like Totsy, Zulilly, HauteLook, or MyHabit that have various designers offering their goods for heavily marked down prices.

Mix in last season. Layering is definitely in, so families can opt to add in summer clothing into the fall lineup. Mixing a cute sundress with a long sleeve top or cardigan and leggings makes a stylish look and stretches the use of that summertime essential for even longer.

“Click” the web coupons.
Many stores are vying for back to school dollars whether it is in-store or online. Many companies want traffic to their websites and will offer special online only deals like free shipping and coupon codes for percentages off. These deals can be found on their websites, coupon sites like, Facebook, or Twitter.

Buy gift cards for less. 
Deal sites like Groupon or Plastic Jungle have many consumers finding services, products, or gift cards for savings up to 50% or more off the retail value. While these deals change daily, families should keep a close eye out for heavily discounted gift cards for stores like Old Navy. These gift cards can be slashed at half off giving buyer a great savings when redeemed.

Be patient. Parents may want to have their child’s closet stocked and ready for the first day of school, but it isn’t necessary right away. Many kids are heading back to school so early that they will be able to wear a lot of their summer clothing for quite a few weeks. Some retailers like Kmart and Sears offer lay away programs in select stores. Parents may wish to take advantage of placing items on hold and paying a little on them each week according to the terms of the lay away plan. Consider other online layaway sites like where purchases can be made at over 1,000 retailers including gift cards for retailers like Macy’s, Target, and more.


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National Retail Survey Reveals Parents Willing to Spend More on Apparel This School Year









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