How To Plan and Prepare For Back to School Shopping on a Budget!

I just want to let you all know how I do my back to school shopping, and…maybe it might help you. 

Grades my kids are going into-


I have College, Elementary, Middle, and High School shopping to do. And-everyone thinks certain things are NON OPTIONAL for back to school. It is 100 degrees outside-but you need more pants??? So this is how I get started.

1. Take Inventory
I go through my kids clothes and take an inventory of what they have-especially pants and shorts. Many times kids think they need WHOLE OUTFITS, but if their shorts or jeans are good, some new tops will make a new outfit  for less money.  

If shirts are stained, ripped, ugly, or old I allow them to be thrown out. Then ask “What clothing items are you fine with wearing for school?  This is when I say “THANK GOD FOR BOYS!!”

2. Make a List
After we inventory where they I I have them make a list of what they need or want when they start school. The younger ones I make the list myself.  It doesn’t bother me that the teen girls will make a HUGE list that seems like it will cost a million dollars. I encourage them to write it all down. This is how I find out what they really want. If you go shopping and buy something they wont wear it is a waste of money-plus it will help then focus when we are actually at the stores. 

3. Set your budget. 
Hopefully you have set aside some money for these expense, but if not plan how much you are actually going to spend before you shop. I have told my kids before-I know you want __________, but this is how much money I have to spend, so do you want me to spend it ALL on your shoes, or do you want to wear the shoes you have and buy 3 shirts?  As long as you prepare them (especially if you think they might be disappointed) they have time to adjust and they will know when you are out shopping what they will be able to get. One year I have said “I have $200, I can get what you can on the list, and then in September I will let you know how much I can spend then as well.” 
Usually for the older kids I get a couple NEW outfits, one pair of shoes they REALLY want, and a few shirts that I hopefully kind good deals on to mix into their existing wardrobe. Then, if they need more and I have to wait for next month’s budget then they know there is more coming and will make better decisions while we are out shopping. 

4. Find the Deals!!!!!!!
I try not to just randomly go to stores. My girls will find something in every store if I let them, so I have to go when I know I can get the best deals.
Shoes-Famous Footwear app usually has coupons and a reward system. Plus they have Buy One Get One Half off sales which helps get shoes for more than one person!
Tilly’s will have 20% off coupons and they allow the coupons to be used on SHOES! They ahve the Adidas, Converse, Vans, etc and they allow the coupons to be used on them-if you go to the VANS store, there are not usually coupons, so I try to find the shoes there-and they have a great backpack selection. has free shipping if you sign up for their program (FREE) and they will have deals or 20% off Clearance shoes-I bought my son a pair or Jordan’s for like $50 last year!
Safeway-Many times I have had Old Navy Gift Card  or JC Penney Gift Card deals on my Safeway card, I have bought the cards at less than face value and combined them with coupons in the store to save even more!
Coupon-JC Penney will offer $10 off $25 purchase coupons. Divide your purchases up. I have gone into the store and gave each of my kids a coupon and said-find $25 of stuff and here is your coupon. Then they try to find shirts or clothes on their list and then get them for $15 and they get to see the savings. 
Macy’s will offer coupons like that too. Kohls is another good one for coupons! Getting a 30% off your purchase coupon helps when items are already on sale. Whatever your store-try to find a coupon AND a sale before shopping.

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