Back to School Without Breaking the Bank

A new school year – something most parents look forward to and most kids dread.   My favorite part of going back to school had nothing to do with the classes and settling back into a fall routine.  It was all about the shopping!  Not surprisingly, as a parent, that is now the part I don’t look forward to in the least.  Add up the pens, notebooks, binders, backpacks clothes and shoes – it all adds up to a budget busting nightmare.  With a little planning, you can get the shopping done without emptying your wallet.

When it comes to shopping for supplies, stick to the list.  Most teachers will provide you with a list of required supplies.  Don’t be tempted by all the glittery pens and impulse items that will tempt you in the back-to-school aisle.  I’ve found that if I allow my son to pick out (within reason) his backpack and lunchbox, we can skip the pencils and notebooks adorned with licensed characters at three times the price of their plain counterparts.

Shop the sales and stock up when supplies hit their best prices.  When I found Crayola crayons for 25 cents a box, I bought 20 boxes.  A year later, I still have a couple of boxes on hand for my three little artists.  Check the Sunday paper for coupons that can help you save even more.   You can also keep tabs on prices at – if you have a Prime membership and free shipping you can snag some occasional bargains on office supplies.

At my son’s school, uniforms are required.  I’m not happy with the cost, but at least the cost is fixed and I know what I’m getting into.  My nieces on the other hand, do not have uniforms and given the chance would do all of their shopping at the mall.  Forget Target – they want Justice, Hollister and Abercrombie.  To save on clothes, we first take stock of what is already in the closet.  Buying items that will mix and match with your child’s current wardrobe gives them plenty of new outfits while getting more mileage out of what they already own.  Be sure to search the web for deals and discounts before you head out, if you’re going to have to brave the mall, you might as well have some Hollister coupons with you!   My boys don’t seem to care what they wear, not looking forward to the day that my daughter the four year old fashionista discovers that Target and Kohl’s are not the only places clothes come from.

What do you do to keep back to school expenses from blowing your budget?


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