Back to School on a Budget

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(Photo by Samantha De La O)

Back to School on a Budget

By Samantha De La O

As wonderful as summer can be, there is something so exciting about starting fresh in the fall. New pens and pencils, paper, and notebooks, shoes without any scuffs on them; it’s like a built in excuse to revamp your wardrobe and show off your personal style. The only problem is, clothes can be insanely expensive, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for or where to find it, your shopping trip may end before it’s even begun. And that, dear friends, is why we decided to go on a little back to school shopping trip of our own, with a budget of only $100, to show you that cute clothes don’t HAVE to cost you thousands, guaranteed.

First, here’s a few tips that we followed, just to get you started:

TIP #1: Look For Sales!

It may be easy to walk right into a random store, pick the first cute thing you see on the rack and go, but chances are, if you shop that way, you’ll wind up spending your entire budget on one or two things. So don’t be afraid of clearance racks. Be bold, and ready to search. Stores like H&M frequently have “buy two get one free” sales, and at that point the clothes are already so inexpensive, that you can buy multiple items without denting your budget. If you’re shopping for jeans, look for stores like Tillys, Pacsun, and Hollister, because they have annual denim sales, such as: “All Jeans 25$!” (At Hollister) and “Jeans 2 for $65” (at Tillys). If you want brand name shoes like Vans and Converse, avoid specialty shoe stores and head to Tillys instead, because they offer a 20% off one item coupon.

TIP #2: You Don’t NEED the Brand

Brands are important, yes, but they are also quite pricey, often for no real reason. If you absolutely must have something with a brand name on it, stick to shoes, because you’ll wear them enough to justify the cost. Brands may be cool, but there are PLENTY of cute clothing options from stores like Zara and H&M, that are as stylish as designer pieces but won’t hurt your wallet. Not to mention, why would you spend your entire budget on one pair of jeans, when you can get two pairs and a dress and a few tops for the same cost?

TIP #3 Know What You’re Looking For

If you don’t have a plan, you’re likely to get tired and discouraged much more quickly, as you struggle to both shop smart AND find a top that goes with that crazy leopard print skirt you just bought on a whim (it might sound silly, but let’s be real, we’ve all been there). To avoid that, try apps like Pinterest and Polyvore, where you can plan out outfits and choose specific pieces that you want to find on your shopping trip. And once you’ve done that, stick to your plan, or you’ll wind up coming home with a striped jumpsuit when you knew that you needed black pants.

These tips are helpful, but certainly not foolproof, which is why we went shopping for you, to ensure their usefulness. Below are the results:

Store #1: H&M

They were having a buy two get one free sale, and these tops were $15, $10, and $10, so they only came out to $25 (plus tax)!!!!!! The jeans, also on sale were only $10. The total cost? $35 (pus tax), leaving $65 to stay on budget.

Store #2: Tilly’s

Here’s where the brand name shoes come in. Originally 49.99, but with the 20% off coupon, they come out to around 40$. Still 25$ left in budget.

Store #3: Zara (online)

This skirt was only $12.99, on sale of course! It’s an online item, but Zara offers free shipping if you pick up in store. That still leaves around $10 to stay in budget.

There you have it. A total of three blouses, one pair of jeans, a skirt, and a pair of vans all for under a hundred dollars, leaving you $10 to spend on whatever you want. It may not be the shopping trip of your dreams, but it will certainly allow you to feel fresh and new, without breaking your bank account. If you’ve read this far you’re all ready to go, so make your plan and let’s go shopping.