School time doesn't have to put you in debt. I challenge you to keep your credit cards in your wallet and open your eyes to new ways to buy what you need each school year. I have learned over the years that some things are needed and some things are not. Mostly not!
Here are a few simple ways to save money. Even if you just try one thing I promise you it will keep that hard earned money in your wallet.
Clean, Organize & Take Note
Pretty simple thing. Before you try to buy anything you need to go through your children's closet. If you have other children then you can hand down what is too small, store whats too large and donate what you cannot. Try calling your local schools to see if they have a program that gives clothes to needy families.
Once cleaned go through and note what you need more of, sizes and remember to think all seasons not just summer clothes. Winter jackets, boots & etc. You might consider looking for things one size up if your child is still growing.
Write everything down and keep this list in your purse/wallet or in your car. Being prepared will save you money in the long run and it means you won't miss out on a deal. To be safe make two list.
Hand Me Downs
Once you have organized you will have things too big or too small. Now you can hand those down to your younger or older kids. There are many times that we don't need to buy much at all. One year we only needed school shoes and a few supplies. That was a awesome year! This year I will be able to hand down things to my oldest because we are only one size difference. Luckily she has a cool mom who has good taste. Not the case when I was young. Sorry mom....so true. lol.
Friends & Family Hand Me Downs
During the summer I get the word out that if anyone has any clothes/shoes to give away to think of us. I also ask around to friends/family who have children younger to mine. I let them all know that we go through our stuff and anything their kids can fit they can have. Helping each other helps save everyone money. Every few months a co worker gives my husband bags of clothes for our girls. We also go through our twins things and give them to another co worker who has 2 little girls. My older girls give things to our neighbors girls. It makes us feel better to know someone else could use these things that we loved and cherished for so long. So remember to get the word out and keep the list of names. Every bit helps to all.
Garage & yard sales
Okay here is where your list come in handy. I recommend hitting up yard/garage sales on any day. Fridays are good for key items you really need. Let's say a Winter coat. Those go quick and are expensive if you have to buy new. Same with shoes. Things you know you really need bad get first. Saturday are days to search for shirts, jeans and sweatshirts. These are always at garage sales for cheap and sometimes even in the free box. Sundays are excellent days! People want to get rid of things and most the times give excellent deals. Remember to bring small bills, bring your own bags and never be afraid to ask for a cheaper price. When you buy something remember to check it off the list (both list!).
Sometimes you just can't find what you want at garage/yard sales. Thats when you hit your good old thrift store. I try to visit my favorite stores regularly and be friendly with the staff. This helps if I am looking for something in particular. I can just ask & they usually know me and show me what they have. Its good to know your favorite store workers no matter what store you are at. They always know where the best deals are! Thrift stores are a great place to find a certain style for that oh so picky child. Keep an eye out for the weeks color tag thats 50% off or shop on the day thats 50% off. Whatever the deal/day remember it & make note of it. And never forget that whatever the price its better than buying brand new retail prices.
It is only when I cannot find something in particular that I will look in retail stores. For example yesterday I went to Target to buy socks and undies. My girls hand down these things to each other. I wash them, I know where they have been and I know there are no harsh chemicals/toxins on them. My older girls need new ones ever so often. They don't grow fast because were small people in general which comes in handy. I walked out of Target spending $22.49 for 19 pairs of socks and 9 pairs of undies. Those were sale prices and still too spendy if you ask me. I also don't like the plastic involved in the packaging, toxic sprays which I'm sure they spray on the fabrics and don't get me started on the cotton to make the fabric which I'm sure are sprayed with pesticides and who knows what. But organics are just not a financial option for me right now. Oh how I wish it was though.
That pretty much sums up how I save money each year. I have 4 daughters and if I bought everything new for each one of them I would be in some serious debt. And the best part of this is that you can use these idea's for school supplies too! As your kids get older they will not need to share school supplies. Your child can reuse their school supplies each year saving you money. Except when they want you to buy a new fancy calculator that cost $100. That was my problem last year! That calculator will be taken care of and handed down to my next daughter when she needs it. We will continue to reduce, reuse and recycle what we have and donating what we don't need anymore.
The idea that you need to buy "new" things each year just boggles my mind. Be smart. Reuse and buy used. Its just another form of recycling!
NW Portland Locals here are a few of my favorite places to buy used:
Goodwill's-185th/Baseline or Bethany/Cornel Hillsboro locations.
Goodwill Outlet-TV Highway/Century BLVD Hillsboro. It's my "go to" place to find everything.
Plato's Closet 185th/Evergreen Hillsboro. Here you can shop for that teenager and not go broke.