By Jamie Kanner
“Mom, Can I get True Religion jeans? Please!”
“You know, Mom, I need a new pair of Nike basketball shoes for school — I can’t wear these anymore!”
Back-to-School Shopping. Are you letting your kids run the show? Want to take back control?
I am going to share some amazing shopping tips with you, which will not only make your children, your wallet, and your husband happy, but also you will be able to teach some great life lessons to your kids in the process.
Clean out the closets FIRST.
Before you even hit the mall, there are definitely a few key things you should do at home. You might need some calming music and a few chocolate chip cookies, but it will absolutely help your kids see exactly what they have and what they really need.
You and your children need to go through their closets and the drawers. Teach them to look for: old clothing, items they haven’t worn in years, anything that is too small, too dirty, or has a bad memory associated with it. You can separate these clothes into two piles: One pile comprises hand-me-downs. My boys love the cool snowboarding T-shirts and sweatshirts from my older daughter. We announce: “Who wants this?” as we start the pile. The second pile is for donating to charity or to those families in need.
Our family mantra is: “Give it to the universe or to someone in need.”
There are always local charities in need of your clothing. Giving to charity not only teaches your children that helping others is important and easy to do, but also reminds them that “back-to-school shopping” is a luxury many families cannot afford.
Make the shopping list.
-Ask your kids to write out “The List” (if old enough) of what they think are the most necessary items they need for fall. You can teach them how to research where these items can be purchased online or in the stores. Ask them to make the list with the prices of each item and the grand total. Keep this list.
-Another good idea is to save all of the catalogues you get in the mail and let the kids do an art project by cutting out items they like and gluing onto a white board.
Divide AND Conquer.
What to do if you have more than one child? Here are a few suggestions:
– Often finding some time alone with our kids is a luxury. If it’s possible, take each child ALONE to shop and designate the outing as “Mommy/Daughter or Son” time. Ask your husband, relative, grandparent, or get a babysitter to watch the others so you can focus your time and attention on ONE child. I can’t remember the last time I spent more than 10 minutes alone with just one of my kids — usually that’s only when I’m carpooling them around.
-If you must shop with all your kids together, give each child a time slot, so they know when it is their turn. Keep it to 30 minutes if you have younger children.
-Use your technology. Many of us have Smart Phones. If one child sees something they want, let them take a picture and email it to you. That way they can be involved but not bothersome to the other kids. (Otherwise bring a digital camera for the other kids to photograph what they like for later).
Start Saving. Let the fun begin.
*Sidewalk Sales — Most communities have them, look up the dates and put them on your calendar. Urban Outfitters summer sale is crazy – 50% off the already marked down 50% and most everything was $5.
Where else can you buy your teenage daughter SEVEN items for $35?
*Discount Designer Stores – Nordstrom Rack, (just found UGGS for 50% off), Loehmann’s, (great prices on jeans and handbags), TJ Max, and Marshalls.
*Coupons – Before you buy anything online search “coupon code” and name of store. I can promise you, most of the time a discount code will pop up. Check the Sunday paper, Sports Authority, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. — all post coupons. Summer Sale at Macy’s with our coupons I bought my daughter Free People jeans for $11.99 — cheaper than Target and so much fun to score the deals.
*Get on email blasts for your favorite stores, so that you get advance notice of the sales.
Call me crazy but I would pull my daughters out of school for an hour to shop at the local tent sale. The clothes were amazing, the deals incredible, and they were outfitted for the year.
*Check out: Overstock.com. Amazon, Nastygal.com, 6pm.com (great shoes). asos.com, etc. Here is a link for the top 15 most popular comparison-shopping sites. http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/shopping-websites
The Value of a Dollar Lesson
After you have scored all of your deals and shopped ‘til you dropped, it’s time to see how much money you have saved. Sit down with your kids, their original shopping list with retail prices, and now all the receipts from your actual fall shopping. Ask your kids to see how much money you saved and then have a family discussion about the savings. Maybe you want to donate some of the savings to charity, stash it for a special gift for your kids, splurge on a family outing, or just save the money? Either way, you scored the deals, your kids learned about the value of a dollar, and how important it is to give back to others less fortunate.
Kids are never too young to start learning about money and fall shopping is a great place to start.
What is your favorite Back-to-School tip? We’d love to hear from you.