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    The beginning of school is an exciting time of year. Summer is coming to an end, and your child will be entering a new grade, and growing up a little more. For many parents, it’s also an expensive time of year. New school supplies, backpacks, and clothes can add up very quickly, expecially if you have more than one child in school. The good news is, with a little planning and careful scouting for sales, it doesn’t have to cost your child his or her college savings.

    Clearance Sales

    End of summer clearance sales are an excellent oppurtunity to stock up on some great basics for a fall wardrobe, especially if you live in the warmer southern states. In mid-July many retailers begin to get rid of their summer clothes in favor of the impending fall collection so there will probably be many sales to take advantage of. Signing up for websites like Ebates.com can help increase those savings by offering rebates and finding valuable coupons to reduce the price of the clearance item even more. Clearance sales may be better in-store than online because the clearance items may be the last of their kind in the store. Don’t discount online clearance sales though, many retailers offer different discounts online and can result in 75-90% off orginal price.

    Discount Stores

    Ross, Marshalls, and Tj Maxx all sell last year’s styles. They are often excellent places to find name brand clothing for very reasonable prices. With the average price of a shirt at Ross around $8 it is a very good option to keep in budget, and they also carry items like backpacks, shoes, and other school-time essentials at very reasonable prices. These retailers do not have online stores so in-store shopping is the only option.

    Coupons

    Many retailers offer very good coupons. For example, Justice offers a 40% off coupon or bonus bucks regularly. This coupon is readily available at many coupon finding websites, or is sent to you directly by Justice by being a registerd member on their website or by signing up instore. Again, Ebates.com is a good resource to finding coupons for these events, and also to get some money back on the purchase.

    Follow Mom Blogs

    Mom blogs have become a huge community of frugal money saving women who share excellent tips on up-to-date sales, coupons, discounts and freebies. Often these blogs will not only alert readers of sales and coupons but are affliated with some online reatilers so they have special discount codes and offer giftcard give-a-ways sponsered by retailers. Considering the relatively small number of readers compared with the nation wide gift card give-a-ways, there is a considerably higher chance of actually winning free money.

    Second Hand Shops

    There are several chain based second hand shops that only sell gently used name brand name children’s clothing at good prices. This is often a best option for little used items, such as special occassion dresses or suits and some jackets or coats. The stores do often have clothing that a child wore only once, or even still has the tag on it, but go to these stores early and often in the school shopping season as the inventory is constantly changing and the least worn clothing is the first to go. This is also a good place to get Halloween costumes, which usually have only been worn once then sold.

    The best trick to not spending a fortune on school shopping is to plan in advance and buy in small chunks. Maybe buy the year ahead when your favorite store is getting rid of the fall collection. Buy a $120 winter jacket for $35 in April. Love layers. The summer collection can easily be altered to fit fall with long pants and a sweatshirt. Or buy some main pieces from big name stores like Gap, Old Navy, Aeropostale or Justice and supplement the basics from Kmart, Target and Walmart. No matter which way works best for your budget and your child’s taste, it is possible to find a way to not break the bank on school shopping.

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