How To Save Money On Back To School Shopping

Inside: Learn how to save money on back-to-school shopping so you can use your money on the things that your family wants.

The amount of money that’s spent unnecessarily on back-to-school shopping amazes me. We all want our kids to have the latest and greatest and feel confident as they go back to school but what if you can have confident kids without letting your money waste away?

What IF you save money on frivolous back-to-school items and, instead, use that money for something awesome your family wants?

How to save money on back to school shopping.

How To Save Money On Back To School Shopping

You can save money on back-to-school shopping with a little planning and smart thinking. Here are a few ways we have saved money when shopping for school:

  1. Create a budget: Set a budget for back-to-school shopping and stick to it. I remember in my elementary years, our parents set a budget of $100 for each of us. We had to be strategic about what we bought and chose the things that were most important to us. Of course, that was many years ago and money doesn’t go as far now but you get the idea.
  2. Take an inventory of what you have: When it comes to clothes or school supplies, it’s important to know what you have on hand. There’s no need to buy a new backpack if the one from last year is still awesome.
  3. Make a list: After taking an inventory, create a list of the school supplies and clothes you need to add to what you already have.
  4. Shop sales: School supply prices vary widely. Be sure to watch for sales at the big box stores and take advantage of them to make your dollars stretch further. Shop online for clothing and watch for sales and coupons.
  5. Buy used or take advantage of hand-me-downs: Hit up a few garage sales for used clothing. You might be surprised at the clothing you can find on Facebook Marketplace at a fraction of the cost. My kids wore hand-me-downs from their cousins for many years. We simply added a few new outfits to their closets each year to supplement.
  6. Buy good quality items: If there’s an expensive backpack your child wants, go ahead and buy it with the understanding that they will be expected to use that backpack for at least three years. Purchase Ticonderoga pencils. They may be more expensive up front but they will last longer and work better. Same with Crayola crayons. When you buy good quality items, you won’t have to replace them every year.
  7. Choose a few things to splurge on: It’s easier to make do with the Crayola Markers and a backpack from last year when you know you’ll be able to purchase fancy pens or something you love and that will make you smile every time you look at it.

Things You Should NOT Buy Every Year For School

  • A whole new wardrobe: Unless your kids grow out of every piece of clothing, you don’t need to replace an entire wardrobe each year. Instead, take an inventory of what still fits and add to it.
  • Backpack: Buy a good quality backpack that will last for many years. My kids still use their North Face backpacks!
  • Lunchbox: For the most part lunchboxes are quite durable. Be sure to purchase a lunchbox that your child will be happy to use year after year. That means, skip the character lunchboxes and opt for a plain style they won’t be embarrassed to carry next year.
  • Water bottles: Buy a good quality water bottle that can be used for many years. My kids like and still use Hydroflasks.
  • Markers and colored pencils: If you’ve bought good quality markers and colored pencils, you don’t need to replace them every year. Check those markers to make sure they still work and sharpen those colored pencils.
  • Binders and folders: Clean them up and use them again.
  • Calculators: Unless there’s a specific calculator your child needs, reuse the one you already have.
  • Rulers: Whether plastic or wood, rulers can be used throughout your child’s school years. In fact, we still have a ruler from our kids’ school years tucked in the side of our junk drawer. It comes in handy!
  • Staplers, tape dispensers, and hole punches: New is nice but definitely not necessary when it comes to these items. Avoid the latest color and design in favor of saving money for the things that mean more to you than that gold stapler.

How To Set Yourself Up For Success To Reuse School Items

At the end of each school year, go through your school supplies, clean them up, and organize them in a special school supply drawer or cupboard. At the beginning of the next school year, take an inventory of what you have before you shop for more. Throughout the school year, your kids can visit the school supply spot for the things they need.

Keep your school supply cupboard throughout your kids’ school years and beyond. It will be a money saver, for sure!

Girl with her back to school shopping clothes.

Make Back To School Shopping A Momentous Occasion

Back-to-school shopping is a big deal. Kind of a right of passage to the next school year. Capture that time by displaying all of your child’s back-to-school choices and having them pose with it all for a picture. These pictures are always fun to look back on.

Help your kids make smart choices when you take them back-to-school shopping by following these simple guidelines. It starts with a budget, inventory, and a list. Then, you can make choices about how you use your budgeted amount on the things you actually need.

More Back To School Resources

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