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Smarter Shopping: How's Your Back-to-School Budget?

Posted by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM
  • 36 Replies

I have fond memories of this time of me, the end of August-first part of September back-to-school days have more of a New Year feeling than the Dec. 31 into January part of the calendar. The freshness of a new Trapper Keeper (anyone remember those?), the smell of new spiral notebooks, newly sharpened pencils with full pink erasers...sigh.

It's a little crazy to be thinking about binders and backpacks, but they are starting with the sales already, ladies. Yup, those special aisles of supplies are set up in the stores, the racks of fall clothes are stocked and is upon us.

Who's ready...or should I be asking, whose wallet is ready? They say the average family will spend $635 on back-to-school items (not counting that tablet or any technology gadget). That a lot of buckaroos. I'm definitely not going to spend that much, but we will be making some purchases. How to spend wisely and still send the kiddos off on the bus in style and with everything they need? Let's all check out these hints:

-- Make a list with your kids. Creating a list to work from is a number one budget-shopping hint, no matter if it is back-to-school shopping or your weekly grocery purchases. The key here is do it with your kids, so you are all on the same page of what you are looking for and to give them a sense of input. Get the school's list of supplies and also talk about what may be needed for projects, as well as the clothes for any afterschool activities.

-- Look over what you already have. After you have that list, figure out what you have already, what you may need more of and so on. Go through that closet with your kids and try on jeans, check how shoes are fitting.

-- Check the web. There may be really good deals on websites of popular stores and special coupon codes to make those savings even bigger. Before you head to the mall, surf around and get an idea. Make a note of what uniform cardigans are going for or what that backpack cost online. If it is cheaper than what you see in the stores, buy it when you get home online.

-- Stock up. When there are two-for-one deals or half-off savings, stock up on those things you know you will go through...think loose-leaf paper, markers, socks, underwear, those basic polo t-shirts you son dons every day or that hoodie your daughter wears over everything. Even look at juice boxes (for the lunch and to have on hand for study time) and other back-to-school items. 

-- Avoid buying too many trendy items. Whether it is a peace sign backpack or that color that is SO in, it very well may not be IN in a few weeks. Stick with basics and then add some trendy pieces that are small -- a scarf, a headband, a key chain -- that can easily be switched out for less money if the trend fades or if suddenly no one is wearing them.

-- Swap, swap and trade. Those older girls down the street may have some not-so-used uniforms, you may be able to pass along a mildly used winter coat, the neighbor behind you may have a practice soccer goal that their boys don't use anymore...think about what you can swap or give or pass along and vice versa, which saves everyone money.

Have you started back-to-school shopping? What is your "game plan" when you do to protect your wallet? 

© rmarinello                    

by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 2:59 AM
I have not started but this week Im making my game plan.
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by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 5:48 AM
I finished all but the primary journals. I compared pricing of different stores before buying. I also stuck to the school list only. And I checked if I had it at home first, although being the first time needing school supplies like this, I didn't have the items.
by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 5:55 AM

today is my kids first day (july 22nd)  we had 40 dollars.. we spent 20) ok that is school supplies only..

by Ruby Member on Jul. 22, 2013 at 6:17 AM

 I only need to buy a few supplies,shoes and jackets. I got pants and top at a 50% off sale at the end of winter.There dad will buy backpacks and lunch boxes and any thing else thy talk him into.Lol

by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 8:35 AM

I finished already, once Target got their B2S stuff out I went and got everything the kiddos needed to start school. The faster I get that chore done, the better IMO.  I don't even really care about saving money, I just want it done. I would happily just pay the school a supply fee if it meant not shopping for that stuff ever again.

by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 8:39 AM

I have gotten some things for the kids.. but we need so much more and I am presently broke, so it will have to wait :/

by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 8:39 AM
Wow, $600 on school supplies... we spend no where near that much but we also don't buy a year's worth of clothes at once. We get the supplies for school, maybe a couple shirts and a pair of jeans if they absolutely need them right away and then we filter in more clothes throughout the school year. That lets me shop sales and clearance for clothes to save money and to get them stuff they love.
by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:31 AM

We went to a sporting goods store the other day and found some great buys on shoes and backpacks that will hopefully last for the year. We spent a little extra money on backpacks instead of buying the cheaper ones.

We also are waiting to buy clothes and school supples when we have our no sales tax weekend. That will save us a little money. 

I'm ordering the kids lunch boxes and containers from I have never used these but they look nice and look like they will hold up all year. 

by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 9:41 AM

My friend gave me a bunch of jeans for my daughter, I seriously don't even have to buy any:) I also have a few items I got her last year on clearance. That's pretty much how I shop. Last year I saw all the backpacks get marked to at least half the price, so she will use her old backpack the fist few days, then I will buy her a new one when they are all dirt cheap. I will also do most of her shopping when they have their no sales tax sale.

by on Jul. 22, 2013 at 10:20 AM
I already caught some sales on some basic color spiral note books and number 2 pencils. Next week we will be getting the rest.
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