How I taught my children to bargain shop

August 26, 2012 | By | Comments (3)

Ah, back to school. The time of year when I imagine I can hear the incessant hum of a vacuum attempting to suck all the money out of my wallet as we attempt to prepare the children for the upcoming year. While I haven’t figured out a way to avoid purchasing the seemingly random (yet amazingly specific) items on the teachers list, we have made one change which has slowed, if not stopped, the outward flow of cash.

We’ve decided not to buy the children a full wardrobe of new clothing, instead taking a “when you need it , we will get it” attitude towards their fall wardrobe. Plus, let’s face it, with desktop fans being banned from our classrooms (you can’t make this stuff up), most rooms are too hot to wear more than their normal summer attire.

That doesn’t mean I plan on denying them the pleasure of a few back to school outfits. In fact this weekend, the children and I went to our local Target in search of this year’s ensembles. But rather than leading the charge, I gave both children a budget – $25 for our 7 year old daughter and $40 for our 10 year old son – and told them they could buy “whatever the wanted.”

With her new financial freedom, our daughter quickly changed her mind about the jean skirt/legging combination (now called “skeggings”) she had been coveting because at $16.99 it took up too much of her budget. Instead, she dove into the extensive bargain rack, eventually selecting 3 t-shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, a skirt and a necklace.

My son also took his shopping very seriously, focusing less on quantity and more on quality (or, in his words, “cool” clothing). We talked about how he could save money and stretch his budget by combining Shaun White woven shirts with less expensive t-shirts from the clearance rack.

While it took us a little longer to get our shopping done, I have to admit it’s the most fun I’ve had with back to school shopping. Plus, I got to pass along a couple lessons of my own.

How do you shop for back to school clothes?

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