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Budget Basics to Beat Back-to-School Blues: Making Kids' Clothes Last Longer Than a Fashion Fad
By Stacy London

(ARA) - Back to school season? Chances are you're down at the mall bargaining with your teenager over what not to wear -- and more importantly what not to spend.

Finding the right balance between what your kids want right now, what you think they should be wearing for school and what you're able to spend is a real headache. But it shouldn't be that hard. Some simple steps can help you find -- and care for -- cool clothes for your kids that won't fade faster than this season's hot trend.

Make bargains to buy bargains

It's all about setting expectations before you even set out shopping. Tell your daughter or son your back-to-school budget to help them understand there is a limit to what you can afford to buy, but promise one or two nicer items as well as the bargain buys. Once you're at the mall, make sure to buy bargains first and cover the basics so you can determine how much cash you have left to splurge. Save the trip to their favorite store as a treat at the end of your trip -- and keep your fingers crossed -- you should be tantrum- and sulk-free.

Do your homework: know what's hot, not over the top

So your 13-year-old wants her bellybutton pierced and a top that shows it off? She's planning to wear low-rise for school. Horror. You need some answers, some advice and a quick plan. Doing a little homework is going to help. Get online. Google your way through teen world. Steal her magazines and LEARN. There are tamer trends that will keep your kids looking great to their friends and in your eyes too.

This fall preppy is back, but with a twist. And it could be the answer you're looking for. Conservative, covered up but cute. L.L. Bean slip-on boots, tight-fit polos, button-downs, plaid shirts, skirts and blazers are in, but tighter, cropped and form-fitting. And in every color. If your daughter is still wanting the Christina look belly-tops and low-rise jeans, tell her that's old news.

Learn your labels

Your kids care about labels, but it's the care label that's most important. This will tell you what a shirt, skirt or sweater is worth in the long run. Designer label discounts are great to find, but generally the more expensive the brand name, the more care -- and effort from you -- they're going to need. So when you're in the store, read the labels. If it's an everyday or every week school item, dry-cleaning is a no go and anything that needs to be hand washed or washed separately could be a lot of work. In the effort to keep up with laundry, we can easily forget about the warning signs like temperature control and bleach recommendations on care labels, but they're there for a reason. Kids are tougher on their clothes than adults, but it's in the weekly wash where your budget can really take a beating.

Take the sweat out of laundry

These days there are some great short cuts to save you time caring for not just kids' but all of the family's clothes. And if you do pick up a few designer bargains that your teenager could not live without, there are even ways to get delicate care treatment at home without the headache or hassle. The Maytag Neptune Drying Center could be your new best friend. The first multipurpose dryer on the market, it pairs a traditional tumble dryer with a revolutionary upper drying cabinet that uses warm circulating air to minimize shrinkage, speed up the drying process, eliminate odors and refresh clothes -- saving time and money.

Stop airing the family's laundry around the house. Clothes that you'd normally hang or lay flat to dry can be dried in one to five hours instead of one to two days when air-dried.

Common Cents

There are common sense ways to get more out of your kids' and your family's clothes and make them last. Know what you're buying from the start and see past the brand name. Look for well-made button holes, hems and seams that won't show wear and tear before the rest of the garment. Close these buttons, hooks and eyes -- if you remember -- every time you wash your clothes; it will reduce snagging and wear on delicate areas. And when you do wash don't overload. Time is precious but don't rush things. Clothes will wear faster from more abrasion in an overloaded washer. As a rule don't load past the top two holes in a top-loader machine.

Your kids' clothes will wear out over time, but if you buy smart and take care along the way, they'll last longer than the next fashion fad.

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Article courtesy of ARA Content.


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