Back-to-school season brings on many emotions. For some, it conjures up the thought of spending lots of money. Clothing, books, and supplies cost something, but you don’t have to spend top-dollar to satisfy your children. Tell your kids you won’t pay for the latest and best thing; name-brand products tend to be the most expensive, and sometimes limits have to be set. This is an opportunity to teach your kid about budgeting and values.

School supplies are not rarities; you may even have some in your house. Search the closets, drawers, and under the furniture for hidden items such as writing utensils, rulers, erasers, and even paper. Search far and wide and you may find more things you can deduct from the bill, but clothes are still a hard bargain and your child is likely to be begging for the latest hot style. Nonetheless, keep looking so you know what they have before you go out and buy them a whole new wardrobe.

Shop Light

Department stores are generally not great for saving money. If your kid is school age, they are not likely going to wear a given item for that long. Shirts, pants, and shoes are often widely available at thrift stores and garage sales for less. Finding bargains is the best way to save before the first day of school. Back-to-school sales on clothing can be just the ticket, but then again you may find a better deal elsewhere, so stay flexible.

Update the Wardrobe

There are ways to make use of old clothing, even that which may be torn. Sew on a cool decal to worn jeans, or tie-dye an old shirt or hat. Pants that are too short for a growing child can be cut down to turn them into shorts or Capri-style pants.

Be Creative

Creative ways to save on clothing include making your own. Just as adding decals to old pants helps, embellishing with clothing and fabrics can inspire a whole new hobby. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, it’s even easier to get involved. This can inspire kids to create their own fashions rather than strive for what is trendy at the moment.

Another option is to swap clothing with friends’ children. A look at both wardrobes can help your kids and theirs pick out what they like. It’s kind of a wardrobe update, but you don’t have to go to a thrift store or spend any money to get your child a different set of clothes. Other ways to save include sales, coupons, online sales, and budgeting. Be flexible about how you go about back-to-school shopping, and you can even afford an I became a teacher for the money and fame shirt!