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Back to School Spending Tips

Back To School: It’s every mom’s favorite time of the year, but it does come at a cost (literally). Here’s how to save money while checking everything off your kids’ supply lists!

Where to Start

  • Keep a centralized location of school supplies in your house so you can follow your school’s checklist and see what you already have.
  • If your school has uniforms ask your PTA when sales are or when pick-up of unwanted items occur.  I used to work at this when I was a teacher and it was insane the stuff people would leave behind when their kids graded out of school.

Where to Invest

  • After nearly 10 years working as an educator, I can tell you there are four places you definitely want to invest in as you start your shopping:
    • Great backpack – you want something simple without a lot of zippers and pockets so items don’t get lost. For a great backpack, all you really need to spend is around $30 and make sure the straps are really high quality.  
    • Folders – you want durable and sturdy folders. These get so much wear and tear. My favorite brand is Avery for the great closing snaps. Always opt for plastic folders over paper ones because they’re less likely to rip.
    • Pencils – vanity pencils tend to break and they’re not great for kids learning to write. Stick with brands like Ticonderoga and Bic.
    • Lunchbox – you want a durable lunchbox and water bottles. Choose something with an easy zipper closure that’s simple to wipe down. Make sure you buy at least two water bottles because I promise your kid is going to throw one of them into the trash.

Where to Save

  • Looks for stores like Target & Walmart that start their school supplies at that 50-cent price point.
  • There are tons of printables available online that compare prices and stores.
  • Look for hidden deals in the store like on planners and cleaning supplies. Now is a great time to stock up.
  • Now is not a good time to look for new clothes. The best deals are going to occur in September, but if you want to scoop up a few end-of-summer items you can find some great clearances.

Saving Time & Money

  • Select states have sales-tax holidays, which means no tax on any of your shopping.
  • Many stores have online order and curbside pick-up within the hour. Try OfficeMax, Office Depot, Staples, and even Walmart.
  • Shop carefully online using your list and then you can focus your energy on how to save for the big-ticket items like calculators and computers.
  • Don’t forget to check for deals in your local grocery store. Sometimes the sales are even better than the big box stores.

Hope these tips help you feel more prepared this year!



Kathryn is mom to two little boys and passionate about finding ways for families to stretch a dollar - and have fun getting there. She is the mastermind behind Doitonadime on YouTube where she shares truly doable budget and organizing tips.