I realized today that my kids only have a month left of summer (and some schools are going back THIS WEEK!) which means we have two paychecks until they start school. That means it is time for me to start making a plan for what we need to get before school starts, what can wait, and what needs to be replaced. Back to School season can be stressful, especially if your budget is tight. Because of this, I wanted to share some of the things we do to stay on budget when getting ready for school to start.
First and foremost make a plan!
This is the time to sit down and make a plan. You still have time and are not rushed or trying to beat the crowds. I know many schools are starting to release their supply lists, but if you do not have an updated one you can try to find an old one and estimate from that. Look online and find prices for the items you need on the supply list, add costs for school clothes/uniforms, add costs for backpacks and lunchboxes, and add a little extra for the unforeseen costs that pop up.
To help with this I found this Price Cheat Sheet that you can get from the Passionate Penny Pincher! This is an updated list of prices for Staples, Office Depot/OfficeMax, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and even Amazon to help you make a plan and find the lowest prices!
Recycle and Reuse!
Now that you have a plan and a budget, you may be slightly panicking at how much money you need to spend on supplies. When I added up the supplies on both of my kid’s lists I was at a little over $40.00, not including clothes, or backpacks.
Before you panic, start taking stock of what you have in your house already. I know for us we often get supplies back at the end of the year, some of which were never opened. So I will go through those and see if I can make my list smaller. Also, I will inspect backpacks and lunchboxes, if what we have is still in good condition we can skip getting new ones for now. If you can wait you can normally get them on sale after the Back to School rush has passed and they are trying to make room for fall/Halloween stuff.
This also might be the perfect time to start a stockpile of school supplies through the year that way you can spend smaller amounts over a longer period of time and be prepared early and not have to fight the crowds. I found this post that gives you tips and tricks to taking advantage of the back-to-school sales to bulk up your supply stockpile. My goal this year is to convert my office closet into a supply/household stockpile!
Another good idea to recycle and reuse is to organize a kid’s clothing/school supply swap with your friends. This is a great way to reduce the amount of clothing and things that end up in our landfills and save everyone money!
Take Advantage of Sales
The best part about being prepared and making a plan is you can take your time and take advantage of different sales and discounts to help you stick to your budget!
This year’s Tax-Free Weekend in Texas is August 11th-13th, you can find a list of all qualifying items here.
Another good way to get the best deals is to buy a Sunday paper and go through the coupons and inserts to find the best deals. If you do not normally buy the paper you can get them at most gas stations, I highly recommend going for the ones at the bottom of the stack, sometimes the ones on the top have the coupons taken out of them. (And if you are guilty of taking multiple coupons, I hope you step on a lego…..I kid I kid…..Maybe)
Shop With a Purpose
Ok, you have now made a budget, you have a list of the items that you absolutely need, and you have price checked or gotten a coupon ready. It’s time to shop. But in order to stay within your budget and to get the best prices you need to be ready to shop with a purpose. You need to go to the stores with a plan, no wondering isles or perusing the dollar section at Target.
Have your lists and coupons organized, I like keeping mine together in a binder or one of those wallet-sized accordion organizers. Make a plan of stores you are going to visit and most importantly stick to your list!
This may be another opportunity to lean on your tribe and organize a few days where you watch each other’s kids for a couple of hours so that you can do a solo shopping trip and focus on nothing but your list and get the best deals.
Are you ready for your kids to go back to school? Do you have things you do every year to get the best deals?
If you are interested in more tips and tricks for Back to School take a look at all of our posts here.