Back to School Shopping:: Stress-Free, Budget-Friendly Tips


back to school shopping

Can you believe that summer is coming to an end and a new school year is right around the corner?

With that comes back to school shopping for supplies and clothes. I remember how excited I would get when I got to go back to school shopping with my mom. Now, I want to share that sweet tradition with my daughters. I will have two in school this year, so I need to stick to a budget. Before hitting the stores (or websites), I’m getting us organized so that we can enjoy the last little bit of summer while still feeling prepared for the new school year.

Here are my tips and tricks for back to school shopping for clothes.

1. At our house, back to school shopping starts with fully cleaning out their long sleeve wardrobes. This involves trying on everything to see if it still fits, looking for holes in the knees, and deciding if it’s still their style. When we are done, we will have narrowed down their drawers and closets to just what fits and what is still in good condition for another school year.

2. Next, I write down a list of things that each girl needs to round out their wardrobe. This helps me stay within our back to school shopping budget when we get to a store (or website). I usually focus on basics (leggings, t-shirts, cotton dresses) that can be easily mix and matched, as opposed to single, styled outfits. This strategy helps when the girls are picking out their outfits each morning. It’s much easier for them to pick an outfit that matches when most of their wardrobe already coordinates.

3. Once the basics are covered, I let my girls pick a special piece that they love and that matches each of their personalities. This is usually a layering piece, like a sweatshirt, sweater, or bomber jacket that they will get a lot of wear out of during the year. I find that not only does this help them feel even more excited but it also makes them feel extra confident to start a new school year.

4. Next on our back to school shopping list is shoes. This is a big one at our house! My daughters love to have options in footwear (like their mama) but I also know that their feet grow fast! I focus on what they will need now, instead of trying to plan for a full year. Each girl ends up with a new pair of sneakers and a new pair of boots (depending on the girl, this could be booties, tall boots, or cowboy boots) in a neutral color that they will end up wearing with almost everything. My last tip on shoes is that my girls take their old, summer athletic shoes to school to use as their gym shoes (unless they outgrew them). I find that this helps their new sneakers stay a little bit nicer for a little bit longer. 

5. Finally, I focus on stores where I know I will be able to get all my shopping done within my budget in the least amount of stops. For our family, this means I do a lot of shopping at Kohl’s and Target. Both offer a wide range of styles at affordable prices and have shoe selections that make it easy to do all of our back to school shopping all in one stop.

These tips and tricks help take the stress out of back to school shopping so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. That way we can focus on the most important thing: having fun and getting excited for a new school year so that the kids can start that first day full of confidence!

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Stephanie is a Wisconsin native who has always called this great state home, except for a quick two year stint in Minnesota after earning her business degree at UW-Madison. She now resides in Brookfield with her attorney husband and their four bold, beautiful, biracial children (Amira – 8, Leila – 6, Naomi – 3, and Isaiah – 6 months). Stephanie is a full-time working mom who loves a good list and credits her planner for keeping her on track while balancing work and mom duties. When she isn’t working or mommy-ing, Stephanie enjoys going on a long run, reading a good book, dreaming of her next travel adventure, and drinking a craft beer or glass of red wine with her husband.


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