7 ways to spend less on back-to-school clothes in Utah Valley

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Back-to-school means back to school shopping, but it doesn't have to be hard on your wallet. (Photo courtesy of thinkstock.com)

Back-to-school means shopping for new clothes, but it doesn’t have to be hard on your wallet. (Photo courtesy of thinkstock.com)

The start of a new academic year is just days away, and you may feel like the one thing getting schooled is your pocketbook. But take heart, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to feel like a lesson in impoverishment. Here are seven smart ways to save money on school clothes this year.

1. Start off small

Temperatures will still be warm as kids head back to school, so buy a few new pieces to stretch summer wardrobes until warmer fall ones are needed. Shorts and T-shirts are deeply discounted this time of year, and a couple of outfits may be all you need until the big fall sales come along.

Extra-savings tip: Buy these summery outfits a bit large so that they will still fit your children in the spring.

2. Set a budget

For older children and teenagers, establish a budget and let your children pick their own clothing. This will help your children learn important financial skills before they even set foot in a classroom.

3. Join the club

Sign up for mailing and email lists for your kids’ favorite stores, and “like” these stores on Facebook. Retailers often reward loyalty with coupons and “friends and family” discounts, so you’ll be sure you are paying the lowest price for your children’s preferred clothing.

4. Get to the outlets

Take advantage of deals and discounts at The Outlets at Traverse Mountain, located just off Interstate 15 in Lehi. This large shopping center has a Nike Factory Store, Gap Outlet, Gymboree Outlet and Skechers Factory Outlet store, among others. Also, the DownEast Home & Clothing Outlet stores offer discounted merchandize from retailers such as Anthropologie.

5. Shop local

Sure, you know to shop discount stores like T.J. Maxx and Ross for good deals on name-brand clothing. And Target, Old Navy and even Walmart and Costco are likely old standbys for savings. But many local Utah County boutiques have surprisingly competitive prices as well as a unique inventory. Cherry Lane in Provo has fashion-forward styles for teenage girls, and Called to Surf at the Shops at Riverwoods has fun, casual looks for both boys and girls.

6. Resale and recycle

For high-end labels with a low-end price tag, you can’t beat resale stores. With locations in Lindon and Lehi, Kid to Kid has gently used, name-brand children’s clothing. For teens, Plato’s Closet in Orem typically has a nice selection of good-condition, high-end jeans such as 7 for All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity.

Extra-savings tip: Take in your own outgrown, brand-name clothing to one of these retailers to trade for store credit.

7. Be the head of the classifieds

If your school requires uniforms, check local classifieds before buying new ones. You may be shocked at how much money you can save.

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Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

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