Back To School Tips: Stress-free Clothes Shopping

Back to School can be a stressful time. According to our survey of Moms most families will be focused on ways to cut back and make every dollar stretch further than it has ever before. When faced with outgoing expenses for afterschool activities, school supplies, and new clothes, we found that this year most moms are hoping to focus most of their cutbacks in the area of fashion.

Cutting back isn’t always easy. But with these five tips, you can go into the back-to-school season feeling prepared and focused on shopping smart and saving money.

Make a Budget

It’s always tempting to know “in your head” how much money you have to spend on back-to-school fashions. But sitting down and determining a number in advance is a sure way to give yourself boundaries.

If your children are old enough, let them know what the budget is. This is a great way to introduce them to budgeting in the real world, and to help them understand the value of the purchases you are making. My daughter is 13, and when she knows what the shopping budget for any event is, she will often compare prices herself and determine “I’d rather have this than that”.

That knowledge gives her more control and lets her feel as though she is making a contribution to our family’s bottom line by helping me stay within budget.

Make Up a List of What You Need to Buy

Make a list of the necessities (2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of sneakers, new underwear, 3 tops, etc). Shareable online lists are a great way to build your shopping list and to take it with you as you shop.

Use Catalogs and The Internet as Research Tools

We are all used to the barrage of catalogs that flood mailboxes in August. Use them to get to know the lay of the land with prices and fashions, and then hit the Internet to see which stores are offering sales and discounts.

Even if you like to do your shopping in person (I do – my daughter grows like a weed!), looking online at sites like,, and will give you an idea of costs for all of the necessities you hope to buy. When you get to the stores, if they are sold out of specific items you want – have the kids try them on in other colors so that you can figure out sizing and order online when you get home.

Take Advantage of New Coupon Phone Apps

There are new apps that are out that can help you supplement any paper coupons you may have cut out to bring along shopping. SNIP SNAP app is one that lets you upload your own coupons as well as share coupons others have uploaded. Coupon Sherpa is another that uses geo-locating to search for coupons available in the stores that are near to where you are shopping.

Don’t Try and Get All of Your Shopping Done in One Day

It’s great to have a game plan for Back To School shopping. But trying to accomplish everything in one day can lead to unnecessary stress. I try and schedule a couple of 2-3 hour evening blocks on my Hatchedit family calendar to dedicate to back to school shopping. That seems to be just long enough that I can accomplish knocking a bunch of things off my list, but gets me out of the busy stores before I lose my temper and my focus on saving money.

Published on: August 22, 2012
About the Author
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Kirsten Bischoff is Founding Partner of, a free, organization tool that includes a family calendar, an address book, updating news feeds, and a place to curate all that is important in your life.

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