Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Retail Therapy: Back to School Budgeting

As the dog days of summer slowly tick away, it is time to start building your back to school budget. I've put together some cheap and cheerful guidelines to help you spend less and to get more for what you spend.

1. Do a thorough inventory before you do any looking!

Today, I went through my son's drawers and closet and looked at all of his shorts, pants, tees, socks, and underwear. I wrote down a list of what he can still use in September and jotted down the items that need to be replaced.

2. Determine a reasonable amount, one that you can afford to spend.

Of course, your amount needs to fit into your cash flow over the next few months. Make a reasonable estimate of what it will cost to replace the worn out and too small items.

3. Do some comparison shopping, either online or in the stores.

Personally, I do most of my comparison shopping online. And if there is an even better deal in the same store when I arrive, I adjust my list accordingly.

4. Before you head out to do the shopping, take 20% of the money you planned to spend and set it aside.

You will undoubtedly see something else later on down the road. Set the money from your original budget aside for that item. Or treat your kid to a back to school lunch on the first day back in class. Or roll the chunk of cash into your kiddo's college fund!

5. As you shop, stick to your list.

Don't buy more than you need to get your young scholar off to a good start. Everyone enjoys fresh new clothes but you don't have to go overboard.

For purposes of an example, let's say that I have budgeted $150.

Since my preschooler already has a brand new pair of jeans, a nice pair of cords, two hooded sweatshirts in great shape, a windbreaker from last year that still fits, a few long sleeved and short sleeved tees with more life in them, and a good pair of leather sandals, I plan to buy:

2 pairs of cargo pants (navy and khaki) and 3 long sleeved t-shirts from Children's Place. This will cost $45 (pants are 2 for $25 and shirts are 3 for $20) but I have a 15% off coupon so my total would be $38.

3 short sleeved Cherokee tees from Target, 3 pack of Champion socks, and 3 pack of Cherokee underwear. $27

V-neck lightweight sweater from Old Navy. $15

Adidas sneakers from $25

For a grand total of $115. $35 tucked away for lunch or future purchases or piggy bank padding.

Cheap and Cheerful wants to know: What are your back to school shopping tips and tricks?


  1. We will head out to the Just Between Friends Consignment Sale on August 28th-30th. TONS of gently used clothes that are perfect for the preschooler. I'm able to find everything for his fall wardrobe for well under $100! (and feel good about reusing items)



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