Can’t Afford Brand Name Clothes for Back to School?

can't afford brand name clothes

It seems these days, kids are walking around sporting all sorts of expensive brand name clothes. Just walk into any school without a uniform dress code, and it’s like a sea of Under Armour, Nike, Hollister, J. Crew, American Eagle, and more. Yikes!

I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t afford brand name clothes! And even if I could, I wouldn’t be sending $40 a pop for a shirt that my kids will likely grow out of or ruin in less than a year. That’s just not my idea of smart budgeting, especially when money is already tight.

Unfortunately, I seem to have a brand junkie on my hands with my 9-year-old son. The current brand obsession is Under Armour—just like all of the other kids in his school. As a parent, I feel a little like a heel not buying him all of the latest Under Armour fashions that he so desperately needs because all of his friends wear it. But, the frugal common sense side of me also kicks in, and I won’t pay the inflated prices not just because I can’t afford brand name clothes, but also because I simply don’t see the value in it.

So, what’s a parent to do when they can’t afford brand name clothes for back to school? First, don’t panic! Then, read a few tips to hopefully help avoid some of the meltdown…

  • Explain that you simply can’t afford brand name clothes. Most kids will be disappointed, but will have to accept it. Especially if you explain that sending too much money on brand name clothes means that they will have fewer new clothes for school or less money for household necessities.
  • Show how the money could be spent elsewhere. Some kids may not realize that the $50 spend on one brand name shirt could easily be used to purchase five less expensive shirts. This can also be a great money lesson on the value of a dollar!
  • Offer inexpensive alternatives to brand name clothes. Fortunately for those of us who can’t afford brand name clothes, lots of lesser known brands have tried to imitate these apparel giants. And some have even succeeded! Take your little one to look at different (meaning cheaper!) brands at more inexpensive stores, like Walmart and Target. They might be surprised at what they find!
  • Make them buy it with their own money. If you can’t afford brand name clothes, suggest they buy the clothes with their own money. They can use the money from jobs, allowance, birthdays, and holidays. Not only will they get their coveted brand name clothes, but they’ll also appreciate the expensive clothes more if they have to scrimp and save to get them. Bonus money lesson for kids right there!

Finally, keep in mind that you aren’t the only one who can’t afford brand name clothes, and that doesn’t make you a bad parent! Your child won’t develop serious issues if they don’t get a school wardrobe that costs a month’s salary. Digging yourself into a hole or spending money that you just don’t have on brand name clothes for kids just isn’t worth it. The way I see it, if you can get them dressed and out the door in clean clothes in the morning, regardless of the brand, you’re doing just fine!


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