Back to School: 5 Creative Ways to Save on School Clothes

Back to School: 5 Creative Ways to Save on School Clothes
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With the school year coming up, there’s a good chance that your child is begging for new clothes.  If they are into new styles, then you probably already know that you may be bankrupt at the end of your shopping spree. Well, instead of spending hundreds on clothes that they may only wear once, here are five creative ways you can save on school clothes.

5 Creative Ways to Save on School Clothes

Start clipping

Before you start shopping, search for online specials and coupons. By spending time online, you can save up to 25 percent. You will even be at an advantage if you can combine free shipping offers with promotional codes. If possible, you can make it fun by involving the kids in collecting coupons.  While your child may want to shop in the store, let them shop on the Internet as well.

Educate yourself

As a parent, avoid buying clothes your teens will refuse to wear. Again, if you are not well informed, you will purchase things that the school will not allow. Therefore, you need to familiarize yourself with school dress codes. Today, many schools have strict codes.  The last thing that you want to do is purchase shorts that are too short for them to wear.

Cash for clothes and organize swapping

Chances are that your children have outgrown some clothes in good condition. They are considered to be in good condition when they are reasonably fashionable and with no stains or rips. You can usually get money on the spot from the clothes they have outgrown at places such as Plato’s Closet.   Here, they will take name brand clothes and either give you cash or store credit.  These stores have gently used name brand goods that cost 90% less than what they do in the store new.

Aside from the brick and mortar store, there are reliable swap websites that will prevent you from having to spend money on uniforms. You may even organize swaps with your friends, but you need to be having kids of different age-groups so that you can swap appropriately.

Get excited about the hand-me-downs

If you are positive about hand-me downs, the younger siblings will have no problem taking school clothing that belonged to the older brother or sister. You can get them excited by telling them that the clothes were once worn by the brother or sister. As you shop, since you value hand-me-downs for your kids, avoid too trendy and gender specific items. This works well with t-shirts, sweatshirt, and sweatpants.

Search for sales, outlets and overstock

High-end clothing stores conduct sales to clear old stock so that there is space for new stock. The advantage with shopping during such times is that you will find quality clothing, shoes, and backpacks at affordable prices. Quality items can last throughout the year. In the outlets, you will find merchandise of top quality at a reasonable price. You will also find everything including leftovers of last year, at a discount.

Creativity can help you save money on school clothes. This leaves you with more money to buy other items that the kids need, especially when you are on a budget. However, even with creative ways, you need to plan properly before you utilize them. You need to be well aware of what you need and what is not needed.

About the author:

Jessica is from the website, a collection of more than 3,300 cost helping guides. Here, you can find prices on everything education, medical, pets and more.

By Teri
Teri Hardy is a 30-something married, mom of 7 and the face behind the popular online publication, Motherhood Defined as well as the founder of Mom Powered Media. Known as the Iowa Mom blogger by her local peers and “The Fairy Blogmother” worldwide. She loves to write, doodle & go, go, go. Control freak, master multi-tasker and shopaholic. Ms. Hardy has professional experience in working closely with clients on brand ambassadorships, client outreach services, content creation and creative social media advertising exposure.


  1. Great tips. We have a rule in our house that when I buy something if after two weeks it is still hanging in your closet with the tags on it goes back. It has saved me a lot of wasted money because someone changed their mind. If you only wear it once or twice you pay me back for it. Once we started these rules my kids became much more savvy about what they really wanted.

  2. Great tips here! I have three 3 and under, and almost always buy their clothes on clearance for the following year… which is helpful if I actually guess their future size right! I never think to actually look for coupons for clothes, though!

  3. School costs a lot – supplies, shoes, clothes… You want to save as much as you can. Good ideas and very helpful. I try to shop sales and clearance. You can find a lot of great deals on clearance – even for winter. Also, thrift stores often have an end of season sale.

  4. These tips are very useful for my kid, thanks :)

  5. Thanks for the advice. I will check out Plato’s closet. I also heard some good things about Thred Up.

  6. I was always very lucky with my son’s clothes going back to school. He was very conservative and only wanted maybe one or two things that were very popular with all the other kids. I always would let him pick out his tennis shoes because they were very important to him. The other items(jeans & shirts) were easy to choose!!

  7. Thrift stores are excellent sources for back-to-school shopping. A local store recently had all you could fit in a bag for $5.

  8. to me i always look for a good quality. i always checking the fabric content on the labels, 100% cotton clothing is a good one. Color also lasts longer on cotton poly blends, and doesn’t fade like all cotton.

  9. Very good advice. I wish more people would be aware that they can save money by just following your advice. :)

  10. Great tips. There is noe reason to pay full price for clothes. i am a thrift store junkie myself!

  11. This is not just school clothes. I’ve done the hand me downs by letting each kid select what they’ll use. Also not everything at once. We had 4 kids at home and never all the money they wanted to spend on clothes. The yard sales, coupons, 2ed hand and swap with other family members the size needed, this is wonderful for formals they usually use once.

  12. Good ideas…growing up in a BIG family we had the “hand me downs” and looked for sales at places like Kmart instead of going to the Gap or whatever store was “in” that year. As I didn’t mind it since once I cared about what clothes I wore, I was able to go out and buy my own (high school). We learned that the more expensive our clothes were, the less we would get when it came to shopping with our mom. Shopping for our son, I get emails on all sales including online ONLY sales.

  13. I go thrift stores!

  14. This year I had my kids gather what clothes that they weren’t going to wear or those they had outgrown and I let them sell it on eBay (my son added his console games too) Then I let them choose between keeping the money or adding it to back to school shopping (my daughter made almost a hundred and my sons had even more)

  15. As a kid, I would always get a bag of hand-me-down clothes from my older cousin before school started each year, so it was like getting a bunch of new back to school clothes. They were “new to me”!

  16. Great tips here! I have three 4 and under all boys, and almost always buy their clothes on clearance for the following year… which is helpful if I actually guess their future size right! I never think to actually look for coupons for clothes, though

  17. I really love your tips. The idea of Plato’s closet is very helpful. I also like what a reader who commented does: She leaves the tags on items that she bought for her kids to wear & if it’s still in the closet with tags after 2 weeks, she takes it back & saves money on what would end up either given away or thrown away because it’s so out of style.

  18. These are some great tips on how to save money. I, myself, do the “cash for clothes,” because the kids grow so fast – some clothes are “like new” condition.

  19. Great tips! My daughter is not in school yet, but we already receive lots of hand-me-downs from friends (and hope to do the same with future children). It’s true that trends change frequently, and I never really thought about buying less-trendy clothes that are more likely to be worn by kids as the years go on. Thanks for these great ideas.

  20. Id use thrift stores. I also go the end of season clearance rack at normal stores.

  21. Another good idea is to follow stores on facebook or to sign up for the newsletters that occassionally include coupons. Good tips.

  22. Thanks for the great tips. I do not have any children of my own but my best friend has an 11 year old and she is always looking for ways to save money, especially on clothing. I will be sure to pass this along. Thanks again!

  23. I buy almost everything on sale or with discount codes. Great tips!

  24. These are good tips. I am trying to teach my pre-teen about buying thing that go with everything. We hit up the Tanger Outlets on tax-free weekend and spent under $100 for her back to school clothes. Everything pretty much goes together and we added several basic black and white tees that she can dress up with accessories since her new favorite thing is to borrow Mom’s statement necklaces :)

  25. These are great tips!! Will share with my friends with kids!

  26. I like your ideas a lot. There very helpful.

  27. Great idea about reselling clothes! I put stuff on craigslist but no bite. I have clothes with tags on hem still! I am going to look for a place tomorrow!

  28. You can also try to cash in on old clothes. It’s a second hand store, but I have bought their clothes and they only allow the highest quality. You can also do a search for “new with tags” to get completely brand-new clothing at second hand prices!
    Yes, this is a referral link, but it will give you $10 off your first purchase! How cool is that?

  29. I love using for getting great deals on clothing!! :-)

  30. Awesome tips. I know Kohls has been running some really good coupons since school started.

  31. Great tips! and I also like Tammy S. rules in her house ;)

  32. Thanks for the advise! I shop frequently at Once Apon a Child and absolutely love their prices. Good quality clothes with a steal of a price for good quality brands.

  33. Great tips for all the parents out there. I also used to shop at nice second hand stores to save money, especially when kids are small and growing alot.

  34. Lovely tips dear!! This is a very useful post!

  35. I was blessed with three boys who don’t care a whole lot about name brands. Two were close enough in age to pass clothes around and we make great use of thrift stores and clearance sales for gently used/like new items. I imagine it would be a lot different if I had girls!

  36. I already use trades,second hand shops,consignment shops and hand me downs for my boys clothing,saves me lots of money every year.

  37. I love all your ideas. I am the mother of two pre teens and I have been teaching my kiddos to go the Goodwill or thrift stores and to select at least one outfit. I mean sometimes you go to the Goodwills and you find brand new clothes at very low prices. Last month my 12 year old girl found two denim jackets for $2.50 (at the stores those are not less than $25)…she was in shock…she got motivated and also found a bolero beige jacket that looks awesome with a skirt and cowgirl boots.

  38. Thankfully only my oldest is in school, and I had to force him to clothes shop with me! We managed to buy all of his clothes at Once Upon A Child (4 pairs of jeans still had tags on them!) and only had to buy him one new pair of shoes (per school rules, never worn outside). My girls will be more difficult but thankfully they don’t start for 2 years yet!

  39. I do a combo of mall shopping, thrift store shopping and private facebook local groups to find good used clothing and other items for back to school.

  40. We make hand me downs our own by adding patches and the like so that it’s ‘new’ again. The kids have fun being creative and I save $$

  41. Thanks for the tips! I try to shop at rummage sales during the summer for clothes to lay around the house at night after school or for playing outside. Both kids were uniforms to school and I try to buy them at during clearance sales and stock up for the next size. I also try to buy pieces that go with other things so a few pieces make multiple outfits.

  42. Definitely some good tips! Especially getting kids excited about hand me downs! Not an easy feat!! My parents would always ask us twice in the store if we really wanted it, just to avoid it only sitting in the closet!

  43. thanks for the tip, i never really considered coupons when i buy clothing never crossed my mind. but i always purchase something that i know for sure will be used.

  44. With three growing kids, clothes shopping is always a need it seems! Thank you for these helpful tips! Miki

  45. Great ideas! At our house,my daughter sells her outgrown clothing at an upscale consignment shop. She then uses that money to buy more clothes, either at the consignment store or elsewhere:-)

  46. Great tips! We also participate in consignment sales in our town. They are similar to selling your stuff to Plato’s closet, but you get a much better percentage of the sale. Also the price for other used merchandise is typically much better than a place like Plato’s closet.

  47. Great tips, perfect for our five grandchildren. We buy some school clothes for them every year and it can be expensive. Hugs!

  48. I really like this great idea, wish it was around a few years ago when I use to do back to school shopping with my four children. Would have saved me a lot of time & money too.

  49. I don’t do anything special when I pick out my clothes for classes (I’m in college). Just something comfortable and I’m good to go. Just yesterday there was this horrible thunderstorm that rendered my umbrella useless, so I got to school all wet. I plan on bringing an extra shirt with me, just in case.

  50. These are great ideas… My daughter always has clothes 3 months into school with tags on them that she hasn’t worn yet :-)

  51. I like thrift stores but also look at clothes lots on Ebay, in basic pieces like jeans, khakis etc). Thanks for the tips!

  52. I’m a single mom of two little boys (3 &1) and my son just started his second year of head start (he wasn’t able to finish last year due to health problems) I just spent $250 on School clothes for him, after his strokes, and not knowing if he was going to make it, or be “normal’ again, i splurged because it’s a big moment for us. I do wish I saw this before, so i could have maybe saved some though!

  53. Really great information, not only for teenagers either. As a mom of a 3 year old, almost four, we surprisingly go through a LOT of clothing and especially shoes since the little one is growing like a weed all the time.I
    am absolutely obsessed with consignment shops that buy AND sell used/barely worn clothing. Also, at the age he is at he really does not have a choice is “new clothing” or “used clothing”. I am hoping used clothing NEVER bothers him though.

  54. Thrift stores are great! It takes a little more time but I can find good quality clothes, sometimes with tags still attatched

  55. I had a big family and garage sales constantly all summer for school clothes. Christmas,etc so my kids had what they needed

  56. I sell and buy at consignment sales held twice a year in my area. Great way to make money while you’re spending money, and the prices are great for name brand clothing!

  57. Friends of ours have started doing clothes swaps which is a brilliant idea!

  58. Hand me downs or as we call them…Pass Me Arounds are always a plus.Shoes is something that we do get new .

  59. All good tips. You can also save some grief by having your teen or child go with you to help pick out things that will be exceptable to all and try them on. Set guidelines before you go of what you are looking for and how long you will shop.

  60. we found a discount place a bit out of the say that sells school uniforms roughly $3 to #7 per piece.. this is a huge savings.. everything there is about 1/4th of the cost of the big chains like walmart and target.. except for a few items we found cheaper at big lots.. gotta love biglots..

  61. I love thrift store shopping for clothes. So many places have really good quality kids clothes for cheap prices!

  62. Thanks for the tips. We always go to the thrift store first to see what we can find. People donate perfectly good clothes to thrift stores.

  63. These are great tips! It is so expensive to buy new clothes for kids! I’m a huge fan of my local neighbourhood swap pages on Facebook!

  64. These are some very useful tips for those parents who are economically challenged! Thanks for the tips! Really appreciated!

  65. Great tips! I have a really big family so the hand me downs are a big deal between cousins and second cousins. But since we moved so far away a couple of years ago, we aren’t so much in the loop anymore. I just recently found local Facebook groups that are specifically for trading or buying baby and kid items. Some of these people are practically neighbors too! It really takes away the uneasy feeling you get with Craigslist shopping.

  66. Love the tips! I always shopped at several places and check out the clearance and sale racks. And you would not believe the brand new clothes you would find at the Goodwill Store.

  67. I love all your tips and I actually have done most of them. I find that it is important to keep the older kids happy with these ideas hard, it is not impossible. Sometimes the treat on a splurge is nice too. Kids can be critical to their peers if they don’t dress the fashion yet saving is even possible for that too, Thanks!

  68. Those are great ways to save but you could also save by going to Thrift Stores and yard sales. You can find many cute item if you look. Why pay $100 for jeans when you can get a pair for $2-$5 bucks at a yard sale then you and your kids can embellish them. Make your own designer jeans. There are many good deals to be had

  69. These are great tips! I don’t have any children yet but now i definitely know what to expect. I do tend to do a lot of thrifting so that side of things at least I am familiar with.

  70. Those are great tips. Back to school costs really add up. Kids always want to look so any way you can save is helpful.

  71. When I was a kid, my family was lucky to be friends with a few families with older children. My sister and I would routinely get trash bags full of gently-used hand-me-downs that our older friends had outgrown. My mom would let us sort out the clothes, and we’d spend hours choosing who got which items. I had a lot of fun with that and never minded wearing hand-me-downs. New isn’t always necessarily better, and it does save money to think about the options when it comes to obtaining clothes.

  72. I went thrift shopping when I was a kid, but haven’t tried it with my kids. I am going to have to go check them out again!

  73. great tips and ideas thanks

  74. We all need all the great advice we can get here on this subject.It’s no easy task to dress everyone up to the nines when you have children.I for one like to be as fair too about buying something new for all of them.Unfotunately it, just not feasible all the time.I like second hand stores too.Thanks for some good tips.

  75. These are great tips I have done at least 3-4 of them but will be doing all of them next year

  76. Great ideas. We NEVER pay full price for anything. We also shop consignment stores and I make some of my granddaughters clothes. We also have yard sales and put that money on -sales for school clothes.

  77. Local Swap, Trade, and Sale sites can be a great place to look sometimes too. Especially if someone puts up a bulk deal at a really cheap price because they want to get rid of it. Managed to find a good bit of clothes for my son like that.

  78. My kid’s are still very young so it is easy for us, but one thing I do is shop at garage sales. I have found many very nice things, like new for very cheap.

  79. Plato’s Closet is awesome, we also have a few similar local stores. I use them for both my boys clothes and my own! I also agree that online shopping can really save you some money once you get used to it. Great tips!

  80. Great tips. I don’t have kiddos so I know that adds a whole another dimension in dealing with school policies and also possible stubborn kids who have their own taste in clothing. I’m a big fan of second hand for myself and would hope if I had kids they’d be open to it also. Some of my favorite clothes (like new also) have come from there.

  81. I think buying good clothing and doing hand me downs. But also thrift stores, yard sales and even people with children near the ages of yours is good to trade clothing with.

  82. Great tips, when my kids were younger I would get their clothes at consignment stores. Now that their older, I save money by buying clothes in the offseason and stay away from big name brands,

  83. Great tips! When my 5 year old is a bit older, I may try to buy off-season, but for now, who knows what size she’ll be in year after year? :)

  84. I’m a big fan of shopping at consignment sales for back to school clothes. I’m not always organized enough to put clothes in the sale, but if I am, I think it’s one of the best deals out there.

  85. These are really good tips.

  86. We have 3 boys, we shop sales and thrift stores and they get hand me downs. I wouldn’t think they would change their minds about styles and likes so much and at their young ages.

  87. These are really great tips, it never hurts to save money any way you can.

  88. Thank you for sharing all of these tips. I also like to shop at Goodwill.

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