Several online sites let you "name your price" for lodging, rental cars, consumer goods, events, and more. It helps to have a strategy.
Cheap School Uniforms
Many of our budget stores also carry pieces for kids who wear school uniforms. Before you go shopping for cheap school uniforms, be sure to find out from the school exactly what to buy, so the items you choose meet any guidelines and special requirements.
At the time of our original shopping cart test and when we checked again this year, Kmart had by far the cheapest school uniforms, but they are available only online. The brand is called French Toast and ranges in price from $6.39 to $7.99 for school uniform shirts; bottoms start at $8.79. Target also has low prices for its Cherokee brand uniform apparel, ranging from $7.99 to $12.99 for both boys and girls; there was limited selection in the store but a wider assortment of cheap school uniforms is available online. If you'd rather have your kids try things on, Old Navy is a good place to start. A good selection of uniform shirts for both boys and girls starts at $9.50 -- or $25 for a bundle of five boys shirts -- and bottoms start at $14.50.
Kohl's features Chaps brand uniforms online and in store ranging from $17 to $26 per piece. Sears offers a slightly bigger in-store selection than Old Navy or Kohl's, with Dockers brand uniforms ranging from $18.99 to $26.99 per piece. The Izod brand uniforms at JC Penney's are the cheapest with prices starting at $6 for girls uniform shirts and $20 for boys uniform pants, with other uniform items falling in between. There is no comparison on selection -- JC Penney wins this category hands down. The retailer maintains a completely separate uniform section with abundant options.
Cheap Kids Pajamas.Kids 7 to 10 still seem to appreciate printed pajamas. Boys, we found, favor comic book characters, video game personalities, sport figures, and the like. Girls tend to like Disney characters; Hello Kitty is also huge for this age group, as are generally girly things such as flowers. The cheapest kids pajamas we saw were at Target where cheap boys pajamas cost $8.99 and girls pajamas cost $8. Girls pajamas start at $8 (but you have to spend $16 for a two-pack) at JC Penney, although boys selections were pricier, starting at $16. Walmart has a slightly better selection of cheap kids pajamas and charges $5 for boys and $12 for girls. Kohl's also offers a wide selection of cheap kids pajamas with prices of $24 to $28. Old Navy didn't offer any boys or girls pajamas in store, but cheap kids pajamas are available online.
Cheap Kids Underwear.Underwear is pretty straightforward for boys: boxers, briefs, and undershirts. Most stores on our list carry Hanes brand underwear and undershirts, and Walmart ended up being the cheapest, at $7.27 for five undershirts ($1.45 each) and $5.27 for three pairs of boxer briefs ($1.76 each). Kohl's, Sears, and JC Penney are at the high end, ranging from $2 apiece for boxers to $5 apiece for undershirts.
Girls undergarments get a little trickier at this age. Several parents of girls at the older end of our 7-to-10 age range report that their daughters need training bras in addition to underwear, leggings, and tights. Girls underwear is extremely cheap, ranging from the Joe Boxer brand at Sears for 60 cents each to Hanes at Target for $2.33 each. Tights and leggings are cheapest at Walmart, where they cost $10 for a two-pack of Faded Glory leggings ($5 each) and $4.97 for a three pack of George tights ($1.66 each). Training bras cost anywhere from $12.99 at Kohl's to $2.99 each at Walmart. Among the frugal shoppers we polled, one mother notes that Walmart is perfect for stocking up on these cheap items because, as she says, no one sees them, and she doesn't mind if they fall apart a little sooner than they should because the price is so low. On the other hand, a mother of a 10-year-old girl says Kohl's is the place to buy underwear because it has a wide selection -- especially in training bras -- of high-quality pieces at low prices.
JC Penney Review
Old Navy Review
Dollar stores are an excellent source of inexpensive holiday gifts on order for family and acquaintances.
Some states impose sales taxes for online purchases, but strategic shopping can minimize that extra expense.