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August 24, 2015

Save Big Shopping for Back to School

Back-to-School can create a lot of expense - especially if you have multiple children that you are preparing for a new school year! 

This post includes some of my favorite tips for how to save big when shopping for back to school:

Save Big Shopping for Back to School
Save Big Shopping for Back to School

Take Inventory
Before you begin shopping, take inventory! 
Do your kids have any school supplies that were left over from last year?
Do you already own any of the needed items on their school supply list?
(Check your coupon stockpile - if you have one: You should already have the tissues...the Ziploc bags...the hand sanitizer...all of those kinds of non-perishable items that many schools require...items that you have found great coupon deals on along the way! If you are not prepared in this way, be sure to make a mental note and plan ahead for next year. This approach will save you loads!)

Browse their closets!
What clothing items do they need?
What clothing items do they not need?

As you're browsing, purge! Clear out items your kids no longer wear/need. Find a way to make money off of these items, and then use the money to purchase needed items. This is - in part - how I'm basically able to dress my kids for free!


Buy Ahead of Time! 
Don't wait until back-to-school shopping is in full swing! Buy items at the end of season - the year prior. Hit up your favorite consignment sales! Shop yard sales throughout the summer before school starts. Avoid the chaos of back-to-school shopping. Avoid the pretend sales that oftentimes aren't really sales at all. Save money by shopping ahead:


Buy Quality
Yes, this sometimes means you will pay a little more up front - even when shopping in a smart, savvy way, but it will be worth it! By buying quality backpacks, lunchboxes, etc, you will be able to make various items last for two...sometimes even three years.

Purchase clothing that will last! 
Buy name brand, quality items that will last all throughout the school year (and maybe even beyond that). You want items that will hold up to wear and tear...hold up in the laundry - better clothes will simply last longer. Psst...you don't have to spend a lot to buy quality items - I promise!

I have actually found that my kiddos do not grow out of certain brands quite as quickly. Do your kids have items from last year that still fit them? Probably so. Any chance their winter coat still fits? By recycling a few items here and there, you can save lots. 

Spray those new tennis shoes!
While most of my kids' clothing is purchased second-hand, most of their shoes are purchased new. Especially when it comes to tennis shoes, I always like to coat them with a protective spray - before my kids wear them for the first time. Doing so definitely extends the life of their tennis shoes!

School Supplies
Throughout the summer, watch for school supply specials at your local office supply stores as well as your local dollar stores. Also know that most office supply stores will match Amazon prices - so be sure to check Amazon before you buy! I have also found amazing deals at drugstores!
Let the coupon blogs do the work for you - watching for them to let you know when you can score Crayola crayons for FREE, notebooks for $.17, glue sticks for $.25. Yes, these deals happen...and when they do, I stock up - even thinking ahead to the annual Operation Christmas Child outreach!
Note: For some items, you may even want to buy enough for the next year. Yes, that's what I said. Items that do not have a shelf life...items that you know for sure you will need again. If the deal is completely out of this world (Deal seekers, you know what I'm talking about here.), don't just think ahead...think way ahead! You'll be glad you did. 
P.S. Be sure to store them in an organized way that will allow you to actually find them when you need them.
Some moms will purchase supplies on clearance after school starts and then put them away for the next school year - smart, smart, smart.

Lunches
This will look different for each family, but packing lunches for your kiddos can help to save you lots of money. Over the weekend, go ahead and organize the items they will need for their lunch - Use Ziploc bags to portion their snacks. Wash/Cut/Prepare their fruits and veggies. There are little things you can do ahead of time to make your week run just a tad smoother - keeping you from having to pay for convenience on those extra stressful mornings. This kind of organization can also give you a head start on meal prep for busy weeknights:

Follow All Kinds of Things's board All Kinds of Things' Recipes on Pinterest.

Required Reading
Leading up the start of a new school year, many students are required to read various titles. Check your local library...search for free/low-cost downloads of these books. This may prove to save your family a bundle!

Carpool
Have you considered carpooling with another family? Gas savings, anyone? Sounds good to me!

Speaking of gas savings, check out how we're consistently paying $40 for $50 of gas:
Saving Money on Gas with Harris Teeter

Quick Question:
Does your state have a tax-free weekend? This can be helpful...in some ways...though the savviest of shoppers definitely proceed with caution.

What tips have worked for your family? I love adding to my lists of money-saving ideas!