Back to School Shopping Tips for Teens

Last Updated on August 6, 2019 by Diane Hoffmaster

If you have teenagers, you have probably learned that shopping for teens can be challenging! Not to mention the havoc it wreaks on your back to school budget. Shopping for back to school clothes every year can get expensive. Want to make school shopping easier?  Here are a few back to school shopping tips for teens to make it more fun and less pricey!

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Back to School Shopping Tips

How can you save money on back to school clothes?

School clothes for teens are expensive.  While they may not need quite as many of them as toddlers, they cost significantly more.  Saving money on back to school clothes is vital unless you have managed to win the lottery.  Here are a few frugal tips to help you save money on teen clothes:

  1. Shop at home first. Decide what you really need to buy before you head out.  Make a list but be flexible if your teen finds something they really love. 
  2. Shop Thrift Stores. Thrift store shopping has become way more popular with teens.  Check them out before hitting the retail stores for back to school clothes. Your budget will thank you.
  3. Put your Phone to Work. Never pay full price when you have access to online coupons that can be scanned at the register.  Sign up for store email lists for reward points and coupons in your email.
  4. Shop The Sales Tax Holiday.  However, be cautious.  Many stores just raise prices to make up the difference. 
  5. Host a Clothing Swap. Ask your neighbors if they are interested in a clothing swap between families.  
  6. Recycle Clothes.  That old flannel shirt may be just perfect to patch a pare of holey jeans.  Look for other ways to turn old clothes into new outfits. 
  7. Shop clearance. I am the queen of clearance.  Shop year round and stock up on great deals if you find them.  Let your teen know that just because they aren’t getting clothes THIS MONTH, doesn’t mean the wallet is closed year round. 

teenager in fashionable clothing

How do you buy clothes wisely?

One of the most important back to school shopping tips for teens I can offer is to shop wisely. You need to develop smart shopping habits during back to school season to save money long term.  Money isn’t the only important factor when it comes to back to school shopping for teens.  Quality is also very important.  Personally, I would rather spend a little extra money on a well made pair of name brand jeans than half that money on a pair of cheap ones.  Teens don’t grow out of their clothes as quickly as toddlers do.  If you buy quality, making clothes last longer will save you money.

More Back to School Shopping Tips

Also, keep in mind that it isn’t just the quality of clothing that matters.    Encourage your teenager to take good care of their clothing.  Wearing jeans more than once cuts down on wear and tear and saves money on laundry.  Wash your clothes on cold and use a ‘light dry’ setting to avoid damage to clothes from excessive heat.  Back to school clothes for teens will last longer with proper care!

Teenager clothing shopping and text overlay saying Back to School Shopping Tips for teens

Back to School Shopping Tips for Teens

If you thought that shopping with toddlers was fun, just wait til you start shopping with teens!  They seem to have their own set of problems when it comes to heading back to school.  I thought I would share a few back to school shopping tips for teens that have been helping us survive during our shopping adventures!

Set a back to school clothing budget

Teens are old enough to understand the concept of ‘we can’t afford that’ whether they want to hear it or not.  Let them know exactly how much you are willing to spend on their back to school wardrobe so they don’t get their heart set on that $200 pair of sneakers that their friend just bought.  If they really have their heart set on designer brands, check out the thrift shops.  Stores like Plato’s Closet will help your teen fill out their closet with cool clothes without breaking the bank.

ice cream cone in hand with city background

Make a day of it

Try to look at your back to school shopping experience as a bonding moment between you and your teens.  Don’t rush!  Take the whole entire day to browse from store to store.  Stop at Starbucks and grab a coffee and cookie and sit and talk to your teens.  It is rare for teens to actually WANT to spend time with parents but if you are there with the sole purpose of spending money on them, I bet they will be happy to enjoy a little quality time with you as well. Shopping is thirsty work, right?  So grab a coffee while you are shopping. 

Shop back to school sales, look for clothing coupons, and check out the flyers

In order to stick to your budget you will need to NOT cram all your shopping into one week.  Keep your eye out every week for store coupons and deals.  While online shopping might be easier for YOU, studies have actually shown that teens prefer shopping in real stores rather than ordering things online.  It helps your little fashionistas put together a trendy outfit if they can physically see it on themselves before purchasing.

pink sneakers

Get the boring stuff done first

If your teen hates shoe shopping, do that chore first.  If you need new socks and underwear make sure those are first into the cart.  Get the boring and tedious stuff done first and then move onto the fun stuff.  Otherwise, you will be exhausted and they will be nagging at you about how they really DON’T need new underwear just because they want to go home.  Don’t forget those exciting things like back to school hair cuts and new school supplies while you are out doing your back to school shopping!   

Put away the cell phones. 

Not only is it very rude to be talking on cell phones while shopping it is also not really conducive to opening up the lines of communication with your teen.  If you both have your head stuck to an electronic device you will not be talking to each other.

Make sure you know the school dress code!

None of these back to school shopping tips for teens will be helpful if you buy something they can’t actually wear to school. Go online or pick up the phone and call your child’s school.  It makes no sense to buy them clothes that they won’t actually be able to wear to school!

As summer soon comes to a close, it’s time to get ready for the new school year. I know.  I hate to think about it, too.  Shopping with your teen may give you a headache, but with these tips, you’ll not only survive back to school shopping for teens, you’ll actually have fun. Have any other tips you want to share for back to school shopping with teens?


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  1. I need to start dealing with this soon. Times goes too quickly!

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