Back to School

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8 Moms Reveal How Much They Spend On Back-To-School Clothes

Ouch.

For better or worse, summer is quickly coming to an end. While children are preparing to head back to school, parents everywhere are double-checking their bank accounts and tallying up back-to-school expenses because, well, all this stuff really adds up. And what's considered reasonable versus extravagant, anyway? For example, how much should you spend on back-to-school clothes? How much do other people spend on back-to-school clothes? Thankfully, there’s no need to ask the uncomfortable question, because we found eight moms willing to share their back-to-school budgets with us.

When I was in school my hard-working, single mother didn't have the ability to spend a boatload of money on back-to-school clothes for her kids. We took whatever we could get, on whatever small budget she managed to scrape together, and sometimes we'd still end up going to school in the same clothes we wore on the last day of the previous school year. Money was always tight, if there was any money around at all. And now that I'm a mother of two I understand my mom's struggle to my core, and in a very profound way. So, while the beginning of another school year can be exciting, it's also stressful for so many parents who are counting quarters and trying to do their best to give their children what they want and need.

I took my kids shopping for just a few back-to-school items and let me tell you: my heart still hurts when I think about the receipts. It all just adds up so fast. Shoes. Pants. Tops. Accessories. Because, yes, my 11-year-old tween daughter needed accessories. Then there are the backpacks, that cost a small fortune. And we haven't even started on the school supplies yet.

I know I'm not alone, and that more than a few parents cringe at the thought of shopping for back-to-school clothes.

1

How much should I spend on back to school clothes?

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While there’s no exact amount that you should feel you need to spend, it may help to know what the average family spends. But, brace yourself for some staggering numbers. The National Retail Federation expects the average American family to spend $264 on back-to-school clothing and accessories, and a total of $864 per household on back-to-school expenses in 2022. So, if you’re feeling stressed or pinched, or like all you do is reach for your credit card, know you’re not alone. Here’s how eight different moms handle the dreaded back-to-school budget question.

2

Cat

"We’ve already spent $250 on two kids, and that included new sneakers. Add backpacks? [We're looking at] $300 or more."

3

Robin

"[I have two] teenagers, and each have a budget of $200. It makes them look for sales and take responsibility for their budget. Between Kohls' cash, JCP's sales, Old Navy sales, and online sales, they get a ton of clothes."

4

Jane

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"I buy throughout the year versus a big chunk right before the school year. So, I’ll probably get them new sneakers since they destroy them during summer camp, a few tops and bottoms, and then buy as needed during the year. I would say $50-100 bucks or so before school starts and then an additional $100-200 during the year depending on how much they grow and what they end up needing."

5

Cheri

"We spent $480 on one kid. Not counting his supplies." Ooof.

6

Jamie

"It completely depends on the year and how much they’ve grown. Last year we were able to stretch my son’s wardrobe from the year before and we spent under $100 on clothing all year, including back-to-school. My daughter shot up like a weed several times and she was probably about $250 for back-to-school and another couple hundred throughout the year."

7

Sarah

"Luckily it’s school uniforms/gym uniforms and new shoes! Probably around $200/$250."

8

Marcie

"I've started buying batches on FB marketplace about a year in advance for both my kids. You can get a lot, like 80 pieces of clothing for $50-100. So it's usually two pairs of shoes each when school starts (because we WRECK our shoes over the summer)."

9

Amanda

"Ugh, having a preteen is throwing my budget out the window. Both of my girls wear public school uniforms so this is purely for school clothes. I spend about $200 on the 12-year-old and $125 on the 7-year-old."

Just because the average U.S. family spends over $800 on back-to-school purchases doesn’t mean you must spend this much. Make a budget, and try to make peace with what’s comfortable and realistic for you. Cool backpacks are great and everything, but what kids really need to be successful in school is love and support. And that’s free.