Back to school is baaaaack!
It’s the time of year when teens and discounts pop up in malls across America in the annual hunt for back to school duds. Let us be your pocket GBF and help you help your kid not look like an 80’s gym class reject.
Saving money in the age of back to school
Parents across the land of the free-to-shop-and-save are expected to make a mortgage-size payment to restyle their kids from head to toe every year because sweet Mother Nature knows, you can’t ask your offspring to get a job. So, our goal is to help you survive back to school with a dash of NSE (not-so-expensive).
Don’t even back to school
Your first option is to not acquire more debt with the other rabble rousers in the back to school hunting extravaganza. If your kid’s older and didn’t get a jolt of puberty over the summer, there’s a good chance that much, if not all, of their clothes still wurq.
How can we expect such tough love?
Now is the ideal time not to shop. Fashion mirrors the economy. What’s in fashion now? Hipsters. What do hipsters love? Hipsters love not buying new stuff, but repurposing, reusing and recycling old stuff.
Exercise this strategy with your most stylish juvie. Pegged jeans are back like Slim Shady. Slight floods are en vogue. Streetwear (i.e., t-shirts, shorts and jeans)? Hot! The lumberjack look is still kinda a thing. Who can’t find a plaid or flannel shirt in their parent’s or grandparent’s closet? Homemade wide-arm sleeveless tees and tanks are back. Let your student go all Fatal Attraction with a pair of scissors to their favorite tee, and you’ve won back to school.
Back to school in your closet
Stealing flannels from grandpa brings us to our next suggestion. If your kid spent a day cleaning their closet, there’s a good chance they’d find something they forgot they owned. If they’re anything like moi, they may even have clothes with tags on them.
Get the whole family involved in closet cleaning and agree to leave the skeletons alone. Have everyone put whatever they no longer want or use in a pile for the other family members to pilfer. Sometimes a shirt or pants that mom or dad can no longer wear because adults grow out not up can be reworked into a youthful look.
Any items left on the pile go to the local thrift shop for a tax right-off or store credit, and you just found another way to make money and pay off debt fast. Speaking of back to school thrifting . . . .
Okay, maybe you can’t buy nothing for your kid(s) – double negative intentional. For a modest wardrobe update, hit your local thrift shop. Yours truly have scored nicely at thrift stores in Denver. Thrifting is more miss than hit like The Phillies, but the occasional win is worth it. One man’s shorts is another man’s pants, says he of 5’4”.
With traditional wages stuck between clowns and jokers, consignment shops have seen a surge in recent years. Consignment shops are to thrift stores like Target is to Walmart. These stores are usually more hip and edgy than thrift shops, as the consignment store staff filters through the clothes they get each day like a Friday night on Tinder.
These items are, at a minimum, “gently” used. You won’t see Sach’s Fifth Avenue pricing in these bargain basements, but your kid will look cool. Remember, their definition of cool is not your definition of nice.
Go with less is more
In a world where the uber-wealthy are ditching top-notch, labels, it’s only fashionable to do the same. If a mall is in your future, blank the brand obsessed stores. If a shirt has one or more names on, say bye, bye, bye.
It’s hard to completely avoid name brands, but don’t be someone’s billboard. Gap and Levi sell jeans as good as Hugo Boss and Abercrombie & Fitch. T-shirts at Urban Outfitters are as original and quality as American Eagle. For that matter, Target has a great selection, especially for girls good with mixing and matching.
For boys, a little-known secret is the men’s section in Forever 21 where you can get button down shirts for less than $20. Download a Groupon and save even more. Speaking of going digital to save money . . . .
Like a fading pop star, malls aren’t what they used to be, especially if your student wants to set and not follow trends like a fading pop star. The best clothes and deals are online. Through my constant quest for the stylishly affordable, I have three favorite .coms. All have reasonably priced clothes and even better sales. If you’re forward thinking enough, you can get deals only beatable by knowing the designers.
- ASOS – The UK based, independent online fashion mall. With over 60,000 reasonably priced brands, this site should appeal to even the most apparel conscious boy or girl.
- YesStyle – An Asia-based affordable, online shopping marketplace. This site has great, out-there styles that will set your student apart from the rest.
- GuyLook – For the ultra-avant-garde boy, we mean super confident and individualistic. GL positions itself in the middle of men’s fashion. Sometimes it wins. Sometimes it loses.
As you can see, with some planning and flexibility, you can send your kid back to school without you having to work harder, longer hours. Sending youngins back to school without spending any money may be impossible, but these ideas will offset any spending you do.
Other ways to reduce life’s expenses: