How to Afford School Clothes When Money is Tight

The new school season is quickly approaching, and many of us will soon have to start thinking about buying new school clothes. The start of a new school season used to stress me out something terrible. It always seemed like I could never able to afford school clothes. Somehow, though, I always managed and even surprised myself some years.

When times are tight, it can be stressful worrying about how to afford school clothes. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Afford School ClothesStart Early

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – it’s never too early to start buying school clothes. My step-mom, who raised nine children (God bless ‘er!) always started the next year’s school clothes shopping around May. She wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but she always managed to clothe all nine of her children well. Starting your school clothes shopping early makes it easier to afford school clothes, because you can spread the expense out over a few months. Just make sure you stash the new clothes, so school clothes don’t inadvertently become summer play clothes!

Put Them On Layaway

I, myself, am a pretty big fan of layaway. In recent years, layaway has been the only way I’ve been able to afford school clothes, since money has been a little tight lately. At the beginning of summer, we’ll take the kids shopping for school clothes and put everything on layaway. We then have all summer to pay off our order. It’s much easier to make reasonable layaway payments every couple of weeks than to drop several hundred dollars right before school.

Hit the Clearance Racks

Just because you’re buying new school clothes doesn’t mean you need to buy the latest and greatest trendy items. Make sure you hit the clearance racks when you’re out shopping! You’ll often find some great discounts on last season’s styles. Unless you have a super trend conscious kids, chances are they really won’t care much. Besides, the super trendy styles you see on the racks at the very beginning of the school year will likely just end up on those same clearance racks a few months later!

Stick With Basics

I generally try to buy my kids basic clothes that can be mixed and matched. Not only are basic pieces much easier to create outfits, but they’re also usually a little less expensive. To add flair to these outfits, invest a little money in accessories.

Don’t Skip Thrift Stores

If you’re looking for a way to afford school clothes, don’t discount thrift stores completely! You can often find some amazing deals on gently used clothing that you can’t even tell is second-hand. It’s also not unusual to find brand new clothes at a thrift store that still have the tags on them! I’m fortunate that my daughter loves thrift store shopping, and insists on getting all of her jeans at our local Goodwill. Some kids, though, would simply¬†die from embarrassment if they ran into one of their friends while shopping for clothes at a thrift store. In that case, you might want to visit a thrift store in the next town over.


Any other tips for how to afford school clothes?