Andrea Woroch, Clark.com
Millions of families across the country are getting ready to send their kids back to school. While this can be a big relief for many parents, shopping for supplies and clothing is a task most moms and dads dread. Searching for classroom essentials is not only time consuming, it can become very costly too. Among the more expensive items on everyone’s shopping list, parents can expect to shell out big bucks for new shoes, boots and sneakers.
How to buy quality footwear for your kids without breaking the bank
While it’s important to save money whenever possible, this is one area families should not skimp on — a quality pair of shoes will last longer — and give your child the necessary support and comfort for all-day activities and sports. This doesn’t mean you have to throw your savvy shopping skills out the window, though. It just means you have to be a little more strategic when searching for the perfect pair.
Just follow these eight shopping rules to save money on new shoes for school.
You can save time and money by shopping online for shoes. Online shoe stores like Stride Rite, Zappos and Shoes.com offer free shipping and free returns, so you can order multiple sizes and styles that your child can try on at home without worrying about any additional charges if they don’t work out. Not only does this make shopping for shoes more convenient, it’s cheaper too, as you can quickly and easily compare prices using tools like TheFind or Google Shopping for help scoring the best deal.
If you never considered buying second-hand shoes for your kids, remember that most children only wear them for a couple of months before a growth spurt hits. This means you can find very gently-used and like-new options at consignment stores for a fraction of regular retail prices. However, it’s still a good idea to inspect the soles of the shoes to make sure there isn’t too much wear and tear.
Snag seasonal clearance deals
As retailers clear out summer inventory, this is a great time to stock up on end-of-season sales. While many clearance shoe styles will include sandals, your child can get some use from them in the first few weeks of school while temperatures are still warm and you can plan ahead by purchasing a few inexpensive pairs for next spring.
Search for coupons
Most retailers post coupon codes on their homepage, so it’s as easy as browsing favorite sites to see who is offering the best deal. Otherwise, review your favorite store or brand’s social media pages on Twitter and Facebook to find exclusive sales and promo codes. If your coupon hunt is coming up empty, run a quick online search by entering the store name and term “coupon” to find a list of deal sites with current codes.
Head to the outlets
Before going to your local mall, pop over to an outlet center to browse a wide selection of discount prices on shoes from stores like Nike Factory Store, SKETCHERS Factory Outlet, Gymboree Outlet and many more. Hold out for Labor Day, if possible, as you’ll find additional sales on already reduced merchandise. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center to pick up a coupon book for further savings.
Sign up for loyalty perks
If you aren’t a member of a shoe retailer’s loyalty program already, sign up before heading to the store or site. Many brands send coupons just for registering. Meanwhile, existing members can expect exclusive savings all year long. Foot Locker, for example, offers $10-off-$50 coupons to their “VIP members” throughout the year.
Go up a size
You can’t predict when your child’s foot will grow, but you know it will. So consider going up a half or full size when buying shoes, boots or sneakers. This will give you some extra time while stretching your budget so you get your money’s worth.
Opt for basic colors
Saving on shoes is simple — the fewer shoes you purchase, the less money you’re going to spend. Stick with neutral shades that can be worn with different looks. This is especially important for older kids like middle and high-school students who find it more important to coordinate their wardrobe.