It's that time of year again. The lazy days of summer are winding down to make way for the cool, crisp days of Autumn. That means it's time for "Back-to-School" shopping. It's time to buy school supplies and "name-brand quality clothing". I love being able to buy the children clothes that they will be proud to wear. Even the most difficult-to-please children (AKA teen-agers) are satisfied with the "name-brand bargain clothing" I am able to obtain for them.
I personally have five children. I always feel blessed to have every one of them but every Autumn I begin to feel the economical ramifications of such a large family. That's why I don't wait until Autumn to start school shopping. I start stockpiling everything from socks to jackets as early as May for the older children who aren't likely to change sizes during the Summer. There are some items I can also buy for the younger children before it's actually time for school to start.
I've explored several avenues before finally finding various online and offline choices that are easy to deal with and actually offer these discounted products as advertised without any of the usual "catches", especially online. Online businesses are notorious for inflating the advertised price by adding outlandish shipping costs or advertising an item you are interested in and then being "sold out" when you go to their website. It is a variation of "bait and switch". They have achieved their goal of having you visit their website in the hope that you'll be interested enough to browse.
I've secured some amazing deals on E-Bay where I was able to buy gently-worn "name-brand bargain clothing" for a fraction of the retail price. The shipping is usually reasonable and you can always go into refinements and choose "Free Shipping". I've easily scored t-shirts from Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Aeropostle, etc. for an average of $8.00. Their traditional storefront counterparts charge $20.00 apiece for the same or similar items.
I only recently became aware that Amazon.com is not just for books anymore. They offer items in the same format as E-Bay and also offer gently-worn clothing at a fraction of the price of new.
If you sign up to receive their marketing e-mails, stores like Old Navy, Kohl's, and J.C. Penney, etc. will offer you an initial discount and follow-up regular discounts of at least 20% off. The best thing to do is to wait until they have something you want before signing up to ensure you get all the discounts you deserve. If something is already on sale, it's not considered using more than one discount, which is usually forbidden.
I'm also a big fan of resale shops where there are the same type of items that you can obtain immediately. If you're savvy enough to also recycle your cast-offs in this manner, you will pay even less!
One place I absolutely will not skimp is shoes. I prefer to buy them new so the necessary arch support is still there. I've found that children, especially boys, are usually hard on their shoes so it is better to go ahead and buy a quality name-brand shoe than to buy it's cheaper counterpart at a department store or a discount shoe store where they are rarely made from leather. You will end up buying replacement shoes much earlier than you would have if you had spent a few dollars more upfront to buy a quality product; however, E-Bay and Amazon have merchants that sell brand-new shoes at deep discounts.
There are also certain times of year, like after Christmas, that you can buy very nice shoes that you might not usually be able to afford at a fraction of their retail price because they are making room for the next year's styles or trying to make their bottom line look more profitable before the end of the year. That's a great time to stockpile shoes before the children actually need them.
Last but not least, be a visionary. Shop end-of-season sales. I'm always amazed that people pass up this incredible chance to score "name-brand bargain clothing" for so little money. Summer/Winter will come again. They always do. Plan ahead and you'll be sitting pretty when the seasons change with little or no effort.