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6 back-to-school items you may find at the thrift store

Jeans, sports equipment or winter coats someone else has outgrown may be just exactly what your student needs, and at a fraction of the original cost.

By MSN Smart Spending editor Aug 19, 2013 12:51PM
This post comes from Tisha Tolar at partner site Wise Bread.

WiseBread logoThrift store shopping is not for everyone; some people find it intimidating, thinking that you need a lot of time or skill to find a great deal. While it helps to have the right mindset and an eye for a find, just about anyone can score real deals on quality stuff at thrift stores.

Mother helping son with homework © KidStock, Blend Images, Getty ImagesAnd during the coming back-to-school frenzy, a thrift store deal is exactly what parents need to help save some much needed time and money.

From designer jeans to new-to-your-kid dorm furniture, your local thrift store probably has lots of ways to save you a bunch of cash during your back-to-school shopping spree. Consider these six.

1. Jeans and uniforms

The price of jeans for kids who are still growing is almost obscene. They often cost as much as the adult-sized versions but only may be usable for a single semester of school. The good news is that because kids grow out of jeans so quickly, many pre-owned pairs donated to the local thrift store are still in like-new condition but priced for just a few dollars.

Designer names can often be found at a steep discount, and no one but you would be the wiser.

If your local school district enforces a dress code, be sure to see if any uniform pieces have been donated to your local thrift store each time you stop by. Families that no longer have small children often donate any clothing in good condition including school uniforms.

2. Sports gear
Parents with kids no longer involved in sports or kids who have outgrown their gear will often donate it to the thrift store. Before you go shopping at the pricier sporting goods store, check in with the local thrift store to see what is available. When your own family outgrows their supplies, consider donating it to help other families save money, too.

3. Winter gear
Winter coats are another necessary expense that can often prove too costly when trying to clothe multiple children. As with jeans, the price of winter coats, insulated boots, and snow pants can be high for clothing that kids will soon outgrow. Check the local thrift store, especially in the fall and spring when people are cleaning out the clutter from their homes and making donations. Keep an eye out for some fun winter accessories like sleds, skis, and snowboards, too.
4. Office supplies

Nothing says "back to school" like a trip down the pen and paper aisles of the office supply store.

But if you are trying to cut back, check out your local thrift store to see what supplies you can find. When people are clearing out their clutter, they often find things they have too much of in the school/office supply department. They will keep what they need but donate the rest. You can often buy pencils, folders, and other supplies in bulk amounts for a very reasonable price.

5. Containers/dishware
Students headed off to college will be in need of household supplies for their apartments or dorms. The thrift store is a great place to find quality pots, pans, dishes, and glasses. Many times you can even score vintage pieces that look as cool as they are functional. It’s a great way for your child to get some starter pieces for cheap.

6. Furniture
In my local area, there are several thrift shops that have opened recently, and all of them showcase some great looking furniture on their Facebook pages for incredibly reasonable prices.

Sure, a lot of the items are mismatched, but they are still in great shape. Why buy new stuff for a college apartment? Many times the furniture will get damaged from frequent moves and the wear and tear of visiting friends. Spend money on good quality linens and comforters, but check out the local thrift store for bed frames, tables, and bookcases on the cheap.

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