Finding Cool Back-to-School Clothing on a Budget

Shopping for back to school clothes can get expensive quickly; that is, unless you know where to shop for bargains.

Children, especially teens, are into brand-name clothing that can be quite pricey. So how can you find good back to school clothes for your kids without killing your tight budget.

Shopping at outlet stores can ease up on your budget without sacrificing your teen’s wants.

There is also the opportunity to make your children’s clothing if you are handy with a sewing machine. (This, however, is not an option for me. I’m grateful I know how to sew on a button.)

Use these bargain tips to give your children a cool back to school wardrobe without breaking the bank.

Be sure to read our other back to school tip and activities.

How to go Back to School Clothes Shopping on a Budget

Photo Credit | Photo Modified

Outlet Stores

Shopping at outlet stores such as TJ Maxx or Marshalls and online shops like Zulily can help cut back the cost of buying designer clothes.

Closeout stores such as these purchase the leftover products from designers at a lower price so they are able to pass the savings on to you, the consumer.

In addition to designer clothes, backpacks can be found at decent prices at these outlet stores as well.

Because I have younger children, I use the Carter’s and Osh Kosh outlets to save big money.

These outlets usually have their clothes at 40% off.

Look for their monthly coupons on their site and you could save up to an additional 20%. It’s amazing the cost savings.

One hidden gem are the Target salvage stores.

Sew Sew Sew

If you are handy with a sewing machine, it is possible to make your children’s clothes yourself.

To make it a family activity, involve your children in picking out fabrics and designing them with rhinestones and such after they have been completed.

Involving your children in the process will help them to be proud and enthusiastic about wearing their clothing.

You can also purchase basic clothing and then let them add their own unique twist to make it their own.

One year I got some amazing deals on corduroy pants. My son was less than excited.

So I purchased some patches of hot rod cars, lightning bolts and pirate flags and sewed them on.

Suddenly his pants became incredibly cool, and I certainly didn’t pay anything close to retail!

Second-Hand Shops

Second-hand shops usually carry a good variety of clothing.

Before shopping in outlet stores, check out any local second-hand shops in your area.

Since most of the proceeds go to charity, you will be helping out local organizations and saving money at the same time.

You cannot go wrong there.

Hand-Me Downs

You can also accept hand-me-downs from other family members who have children your age or older.

Many times clothes are only worn a few times before children grow out of them and family members are happy to share them instead of throwing the clothing out.

If you have nieces or nephews that have outgrown clothing, consider asking their parents if you could have the clothing instead of letting it go to waste.

In my family, my first son wears the clothing. Then my second son wears the clothes. Then whatever is still holding together gets passed on to our nephew.

But just because you don’t have a family member who can pass clothes on to you doesn’t mean you don’t have a neighbor or friend who would like to pass on the clothes to someone they know rather than just donate them.

Plus, you’ll be doing them a favor by helping them get those no-longer-needed clothes out of the house.

Buy in Stages

Buying a full year’s worth of clothes can be produce serious sticker shock.

One last option is to budget for school clothes and buy a little at a time instead of all at once. It is perfectly fine to start your child off with just a few outfits and then build up the wardrobe over the course of the school year.

Save up money over the summer while your child is out of school and you will be prepared when the time to do school shopping approaches.

Shopping for cool school clothes does not have to be a wallet cruncher.

There are many places you can shop around and find bargains on clothes, designer or not.

If you cannot afford to buy designer clothes, even at a discount, you can involve your children and make their clothes for them if you are savvy with a sewing machine.

If you budget properly over the summer and build up your child’s wardrobe little by little, you will not break the bank in one shopping trip, give them the wardrobe they need while giving them a little of what they want as well.


  1. We love yard sales and I have found lots and lots of clothes from yard sales and mostly name brand too for like $1 a piece sometimes .50 cents a piece! I try and buy ahead too and it has worked for us since my son was born and he’s 8 now. We do the same with my daughter whose 4. Great ideas!!

    1. Thanks! We even have storage tubs marked by age/size for our used clothing so we can just pull out the bin when they reach that age.

  2. Hello!
    Well with homeschooling we don’t really have a rush to buy clothes, just when she grows and the seasons change lol. I try my best to get my hands on hand me downs but we’ve moved and she’s getting old enough that we are the givers of hand me downs more than the receivers.
    You are the first blog I’ve looked at that is using the same WP theme I am. Looks good. I’m gonna stalk around and see what features you have installed because I need to work on mine.
    Have a great weekend!

  3. Love hand-me-downs and resale shops. That said, this is the time of year we make a trip to Old Navy and stock up on their $10 jean sale. We buy about 5 new pairs per kid. Then we do it again at Christmas when they do the sale. This gives us jeans for the year.

  4. These are wonderful tips! We have several second hand shops that are local to us that we have purchased gently used kids clothing at for years. Thank you for sharing these tips 🙂

  5. Great ideas! I especially like buying stages. I buy bigger sizes for next year when things go on off-season clearance.

    1. I buy bigger sizes, too! I have clear plastic bins that I sort the clothes into so when he reaches that size, I just pull out the bin.

  6. Great tips! I just have a baby right now, but he’s set for clothing until he’s at least 2, between shower gifts and hand me downs from a cousin with two young boys. She’s going to keep gifting me hand me downs, so it’ll be a real help as my son grows.

    One place where I struggle is making sure I have clothing in the right size to go with the season. Where I am, winter comes early and stays late. Retail stores don’t always recognize this, so I run the risk of having too-light clothing in winter, too-warm clothing in summer, etc. In my short time as a mom, I’ve had to pack away clothes that he hasn’t even worn because they were the right size but too warm for summer. It’s frustrating!

    1. We’ve had the same problem in the past…. my kids outgrew their sizes but the stores were already loading up for summer. We kept clothes in bins (by size) so that maybe the next kiddo would be able to wear them. And if not, it’s never been hard to find a friend who could use them 😀

  7. Great tips! I do all of these except the sewing one. I have a sewing machine but I HATE sewing. HATE HATE HATE. Haha! Also, I have several sisters who love to buy clothes for their nieces and nephews so that works out nicely, as well as grandparents who love to take their grandkids back-to-school shopping. Works for me!

    1. That is a great way to save money — get the grandparents to buy clothes. Ha! And I do sew… but not clothing. It’s just not what I do…. but I certainly know people who do!

  8. A great way to save money on clothing at your favorite clothing stores is to sign up for their email list. Most send not just notices of sales but also special discount codes for members only that you can use online or in store.

  9. Love! Saw this on Mom 2 Mom. We do all of these also.

  10. Jenny, this is another great back-to-school post. I have scheduled it to share with my FB people. This is my back to school theme week. Thanks for sharing at Snickerdoole Sunday.

  11. Great idea to help the budget when getting ready for school. I used to sew for all my kids including making denim pants for the youngest with those easy Kwik Sew patterns. If a person can sew they can save oodles of money on clothing.

    Thanks for sharing on Friday Features this week, stop by for Wordless Wednesday as well.
    Have a great weekend!

  12. Clothes can be expensive . Thank you for joining the Small victories Sunday lInkup party. Please join again. Pinned to the group board.

  13. Karren Haller says:

    Hi Jenny, this has such great information in for moms I just wanted to stop by and let you know that your post is Featured on our Friday Feature-Linky-Party this week, hope you would like to stop by and add other links. All Features are pinned!
    Have a beautiful week, Karren
    Oh My Heartsie Girl

  14. Our son has hit the maximum warp speed in growing. We are both very tall people. So, coming up with creative ways to buy clothes has become a matter of life and death for our budget.

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