Every year parents deal with the challenge of buying school clothes. Shops are crowded, items are expensive, and you know your kids will probably outgrow everything before the clothes wear out. But there are things you can do to minimise the cost and avoid the crowds.

1. Set a budget

As with anything else, the first step to limiting how much you spend is to set a budget and actually stick to it.

Consider how much you’ll need to spend upfront and what will be required for purchases during the school year. Stretch that budget as far as possible by only buying what you really need and by shopping when the sales occur.

For non-school branded uniform in school colours, check out the supermarkets. Many now sell uniform in a range of colours and it is more reasonably priced than the school uniform outlets.

2. Assess your current situation

What does your child currently have? What fits? What can be reused for the new school year? Figure out what you’re actually going to need, make a list, and keep it with you.

When anything on your list goes on sale, you’ll be in a position to take advantage of the situation.

3. Consider hand-me-downs

Do you have older children whose clothes would be appropriate for your younger child? What about the children of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers?

Many people just throw perfectly good clothes away. You may be pleasantly surprised at what others may offer you, and usually, everything is free!

Check with your school’s parent association, do they run a second-hand uniform shop? In some schools, parents donate uniform that is too small, so it can be taken free of charge or for a small fee to be used by others.

4. In the spring, buy winter clothes for the next school year

Winter styles are amazingly inexpensive in March. So buy ahead.

Of course, the same situation applies when buying clothes for the rest of the year. Out-of-season clothes are much less expensive. The stores want all that merchandise out of their way.

Remember to consider your child’s growth and size up accordingly.

5. Consider buying used clothes

Your kids might not be thrilled if they knew, but thrift stores and consignment shops have many pieces of clothing in excellent condition. Some are designer items that cost a ton of money new.

Much of the apparel has only been worn a couple of times, and it’s not unheard of to find stuff that’s never been worn. Your kids will never know, but your bank account will be able to tell the difference.

6. Trade in the old clothes

Some stores specialize in used clothing. Not only can you get some money for those clothes your child can no longer wear, but you might also find a great price on something they’ll love!

Also, consider selling last year’s clothes at a garage sale or on eBay. Your child’s old clothes may have value to someone, especially if they’re in good condition.

If you utilise the above money-saving tips, you can save a lot on back-to-school clothes! Follow at least a couple of the suggestions in this article and you’ll be well on your way to having a happy, well-dressed child and keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.