We’re proud to partner with Greenwood Park Mall & Simon Malls for the third year in a row to offer you a look at how convenient it is to shop so close to home.

I really don’t like the end of summer break, but I LOVE the start of the school year. How’s that for a paradox? As a mom, this is true and as a student, this was also true for me. Part of the allure of the new school year is the fresh start and a new pair of shoes.

I have four children that I have to bring along when we go school shopping. Once we made a date night of back to school shopping, but these days it’s something that we need to squeeze in between speech therapy, a splash pad playdate and nap time. For the third year in a row, our back to school shopping starts at the mall. It’s not easy shopping with all of these children, but the mall allows me to find everything in one place.

My girls have different personalities, different taste in clothing and because of gently used hand me downs, different wardrobe needs. Even with all of these factors, Greenwood Park Mall is still one of my top places to find everything!

Here are my tips for maximizing your time and your money for back to school;

Inventory

Look through EVERYTHING that your kids have and make a list of what you don’t have. This is a complete “duh” tip, but if you’re like me, you don’t do it. You run out of time or you’re out shopping anyway, so you pick things up and buy them because they’re cute and they fit. Before we left the house, I cleaned out every drawer and went through the closet. I removed clothes that no longer fit, or were done serving their time and I looked to see what was missing. I was SHOCKED when I realized that all my daughter needed was a winter coat, socks, shoes and underwear. Being equipped with this knowledge made it so easy to say, “No.” to every dress, shirt and pair of pants that she held up.

Stop by Guest Services

Sometimes there’s a really great deal for buying your Simon Malls Gift Cards or other gift cards. One time we got free movie tickets with the purchase of our gift card! The team at Greenwood Park Mall is great about sending you in the right direction to find exactly what you need.

Set a Budget

I have a number in mind when it comes to each kid. Not every child has the same budget for many reasons. My younger daughters have a lot of hand me downs from their older sister, so they don’t need as many things as my oldest daughter who has no one passing clothes down to her. My son is our only boy, so he needs quite a few more items than my girls, and since he’s the only one of my kids who will be wearing them, I might make different decisions based on the value we’ll get out of the clothing.

One fun way to budget and teach your kids about money and limits, is to purchase a Simon Visa Card and put their budget on that card. Let them swipe it and keep track of their spending. They might make different choices and requests with their wants when they see the bottom line.

Incorporate Past Season with Present Season

During back to school shopping season, there are a lot of sales and bargains on basics and on summer clearance. I’ve had a lot of luck purchasing my kids some basics, like jeans and leggings and sweaters and then adding cute shirts, skirts and dresses to make a fall and early winter appropriate look. Find those deals that will work with what you already have to create a new look!

Find the Sale or the Store That Fits Your Budget

With so many store offerings at the mall, I can pretty much spend as little or as much as I want on any specific item. We tend to purchase shoes at a lower price point because my children’s feet are growing so quickly these days, there’s a store for that. However, when I learned about Macy’s and their Backstage, store within a store, we were able to buy higher quality, name brand shoes for the same or less than the bargain shoes we purchased. Quite a bit of our school clothing budget was spent at Macy’s Backstage store because the prices could not be beat! For example, Polo Ralph Lauren, long sleeved button up collared shirts for my son for $4.99!!!

Greenwood Park Mall offers a huge variety of stores in one convenient location. In addition, they offer events and programming for children and families. Their summer concert series is very popular, as are their kid-centric events. Check out the When I Grow Up event in July and the Disney Junior Fancy Nancy event in August.