It can be easy to get caught up in the hype of back to school shopping and blow your budget easily.
Here are some tips for keeping your budget in check:
Retailers would like us to think that a brand new back to school wardrobe is a necessity. But many parts of the country are still in summer-weather mode, even in September. So instead of picking up cold-weather items, such as jackets, just get the basics, such as jeans, new shoes and some shirts. See what is in the wardrobe already and build on that. We are in OH and my son is back in school end of August. I'm sure he will be wearing shorts well into September.
Old Navy, Gap Kids, and The Children's Place have really great sales this time of year. They also rotate merchandise often -- ask when they do their markdowns so you can get the deals. And I've found really low-priced children's clothing at Target, like $1.48 for a shirt, $2.48 for a pair of jeans.
And check our list of printable coupons before going to the store!
Many times, teachers send home school supply lists of items they want their students to have. This list can be daunting. Last year, even with my supply of paper, pencils, etc, I still had to go out and pick up a few things. What is the best way to save? I checked my stockpile first and gathered up the items I already had. Then for the remainder of the list, I checked the Sunday ads and went to those stores. Staples, Officemax, Office Depot, Target and Kmart usually have the best prices. Typically each year, I usually only get what's on the list. A few weeks into September, many stores start clearancing school supplies to very low prices. This is when I stock up and fill my shelves for the upcoming year.
Backpacks and Lunch bags
Each year, we look for a new character backpack and matching lunch bag. The last few years, Toys R Us, has had a deal, buy a backpack, get a lunch bag for free. If you combine this with a Toys R Us coupon, it's a pretty good deal. Target also has a good selection. And also, talk with your child(ren) if they want to buy lunch at school or pack a lunch. If they'd rather buy lunch, a lunch bag won't even be needed.
If you are looking for a more rugged backpack that can stand up to middle school and high school books and supplies, I suggest checking out Lands' End, LL Bean and even Costco. I found my son's backpack at Costco last year and it held up the entire year!
Stocking the pantry
Grocery stores like to get in on the back to school hype too and push snack packs of food, cereal, etc. Only stock up on items you know you will use and don't fall for the hype! Here are some snack packs that the kids will love:
- Trail mix. Combine your child’s favorite whole grain cereals with pretzels, raisins, or other dried fruit.
- Baked chips or whole grain crackers, packaged into child-sized portions.
- Homemade popcorn.
- Homemade cookies.
- Sandwich rolls (tortillas with sandwich fillings, sliced).
- Cheese sticks
Hold a swap party with your friends
Get together with your friends with children of a similar age and swap your gently used clothing.
Check out craigslist.org or ebay for more deals
If there is an item your child needs, but you don't want to pay retail, check out those two sites first!