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Stick to classics with back-to-school clothes

By Courtney Coufal
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Shopping for back-to-school clothes does not have to stress family finances if parents plan their spending and stick to the basics.

Bobbie Shaffett, family resource management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said there may not be much room left in the family budget for clothing this year because of rising prices and energy costs.

This does not have to keep parents from treating their children to an annual back-to-school shopping trip if they follow a few tips.

“Before heading to the store, take a look at the overall budget to see how much is available for spending on school clothes,” Shaffett said.

Ideally, parents should begin preparing for this expense before the money is needed.

“Plan ahead for periodic occasional expenses such as back-to-school, Christmas, or repairs and maintenance by saving a little money each month,” Shaffett said. “These budget-busters consumers call unexpected are generally just neglected expenses. Planning ahead for occasional expenses can reduce financial stress.”

If it becomes necessary to use credit cards, be careful to keep spending under control.

“Try not to spend more than you can pay off in two or three months,” Shaffett said.

Shaffett also recommended parents stick to a list of needed items, look for sales and consider fuel costs when planning the shopping route.

Susan Cosgrove, Extension family resource management area agent, said there are specific types of clothing to look for this year that may be easier on the budget.

“With the economy being what it is, it would be wise to buy classic styles rather than real trendy clothes because they can be worn longer and may be more affordable,” Cosgrove said.

Classic styles include items similar to uniform clothing like denim, khaki or olive-colored shorts, solid-colored shirts and a white button-down shirt. These pieces are good additions to any wardrobe.

“Even if your school does not require uniforms, look into buying some of these pieces. You usually can buy uniform clothes at good prices,” Cosgrove said.

Look for clothes made of durable fabrics, such as cotton.

“School clothes need to be easy to take care of, so choose fabrics that can stand up to a lot of wear and washing,” she said. “Try to avoid fabrics that are hand-wash only or dry clean.”

Know the school dress code before making selections.

“A lot of clothes currently available may not fit the school dress code,” Cosgrove said. “You want to be sure the clothes you buy can be worn to school.”

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Released: July 3, 2008
Contact: Dr. Bobbie Shaffett, (662) 325-3080