Back to School Shopping for the Attempting-to-be-Frugal

I’m good at buying things on sale. Great, actually. One particular area of weakness for me is clothing for the kids. Kids clothing is just. So. Cute.

Because I try to be frugalish about clothes by passing down clothes from boy to boy, and selling Isla’s clothes when I have time, I do like to buy brands that I know will last. There’s nothing I hate more than spending $10 on shoes that are ruined in three months, meaning I have to buy another $10 pair of shoes. I’d rather just buy the $20 pair and be done with it. Same with jeans – certain brands I’m almost assured Miles will wear holes into within eight weeks. But other brands have been passed from him to Grant to Jonah and they are still wearable. So while I buy a ton of clothing from Target for the kids, I also like to shop at Baby Gap and Gymboree.

People have told me they can’t believe I buy clothes for four kids at stores like that, and yes, their regular prices are on the high side. But if you buy things on sale and use their rewards programs, I can usually buy clothes for LESS than I’d spend on a similar item at Target. And that item will, usually, be tough enough to last through at least two boys, maybe three.

We just took the kids back to school shopping, and I went into the process ready to not go overboard. I had everyone try on their clothes from last year to see what still fits or not. Pieces that no longer fit went into one of three piles – Pass to the Next Kid, Donate, or Potentially Sell. Then I made a list of who still needed what. Luckily Miles can still fit into a lot of what he wore last year, Grant has all of Miles’ hand-me-downs, and I’d bought a bunch of stuff on clearance last fall/winter for Isla to wear this fall (buying ahead is a HUGE money-saver).

Armed with my list I went to an outlet mall and bought jeans and some things on super clearance for next spring/summer. For example, the sun dress in the photo is from Gap and cost me $5.98. Many of the tops were less than $4.00. The jeans were $11 or less each. And it’s not just the outlets where you can get deals. Gap just had a sale for an extra 40% off sale items, and I’d also received a 25% off coupon in the mail. So I stocked up on some shorts and shirts for next summer for prices like $1.75, $3, and $6.

Here’s some of the stash from two days of back to school shopping, with some bargains for next summer thrown in.

I think I did all right.

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