With this school year winding down, thinking about next school year seems a bit crazy. However, if you want to save money on school uniforms, now is the time to prepare. Taking a look at the kids' uniforms now and getting the items you need this summer will save on the back to school shopping budget. I love school uniforms because they lend to a minimalist wardrobe which makes getting dressed simple, saves on closet space and is friendly on the clothing budget. Uniforms do cost money though, so here's how to get them organized, purchased, and ready for the next school year.
1. See what you have.
Start by organizing the uniforms you already have. This is a good time to enlist the help of the kids. Have the children pull out their uniforms and stack them neatly on their beds. Keep the kids nearby so they can try on items to see if they still fit. Go through each piece. Does it fit? If it doesn't fit, can it be handed down? Is it in good condition? Does it need repair? Separate into five stacks: Handing down, Repair, Throw away, Donate, and Keep.
2. The Handing Down Stack
If the uniform has been outgrown and is still in good condition, can a younger brother or sister wear it? Put these items in brother's or sister's keep stack.
3. The Repair Stack
I do not know how to use a sewing machine, but I have found that most clothing repairs can be done without one. Buttons missing or hems coming loose are easily repaired with a needle and thread. Set those items needing a few touch-ups aside and make the repairs later. Maybe while watching a movie this summer?
4. The Throw Away Stack
It's okay, really. Throw away the clothes that are worn out, torn, stained, faded, or damaged beyond repair. Resist the temptation to keep clothes that should be thrown out as "back-ups" or summer play clothes. You'll be disappointed to see the kids wear them to school. And if they don't wear them, the clothes just take up space in the kids' closets and drawers.
5. The Donate Stack
Donate outgrown uniforms that are in good condition. If your school has a uniform lending closet, donate the clothes to it. If not, try finding a school family that would love your kids' hand-me-downs.
6. The Keep Stack
Make a list for each child of what pieces each one has. This will be helpful to see what items are needed to fill in the child's school wardrobe. Put the clothes back into their drawers or closets.
7. Make a list of what pieces are needed.
Make a list for each child of what items are needed. Make a note of sizes and measurements, too. Be careful not to add too many pieces. Overbuying is expensive and crowds the closet. With three daughters sharing one closet, I'm mindful of what clothes go in it. At a minimum, each child needs one uniform to wear and one that is being laundered. If you do not do laundry every day, you'll want one or two more of each item. Generally, pants and skirts can be worn more than once before laundering, while shirts often need daily washing. So you'll want to have more tops than bottoms in the wardrobe. If you have sons and daughters, think about buying unisex outerwear. This way an outgrown coat can be handed down to a younger brother or sister.
8. Check your school's uniform lending closet.
A lending closet is a great way to save money on school uniforms. At our school, items are free for the taking. If my kids need a polo, a skirt, or some other piece, I always check there first.
9. Watch for uniforms to go on sale and then purchase with Scrip.
Subscribe to the uniform store via email so you can watch for sales. Lands End often has free logos, free shipping, or % off sales. Look for up to 40% off. Be ready with your list to make the purchases when there's a sale this summer. And be sure to use Scrip if your school has this program. Lands End Scrip gives 16% of your purchase price back to your school. This rebate often goes directly toward your family's fundraising obligations or tuition costs. If you are using Land End, you can enter your Kmart/Sears rewards card number into the right sidebar to accumulate points or redeem them. Waiting until August to buy uniforms will almost certainly mean you will be paying full price, the items you need may be out of stock, and you may not receive your order before school starts. Ordering early allows time for size exchanges, too. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Necessity never made a good bargain."
10. Label all pieces.
Labeling helps you keep your investment! It can be quite frustrating when one of the kids loses a brand new sweater. Save yourself the expense and hassle of replacing polos, sweaters, and jackets by labeling everything. Use a laundry marking pen, while Sharpies do work, they wash out over time. And label with the last name only. This way clothes can be handed down to anyone in the family without a bunch of crossouts on the label.
After all this, give yourself a big pat on the back! Now you can relax by the pool knowing you have school uniforms checked off your list. And you'll be able to afford swim lessons for the kids with all the money you saved.
Do you love school uniforms? Do you have a money or time saving tip to share?