Friday, May 15, 2015

Planning For School This Fall

I know this sounds crazy, but every year as the school winds down for the summer (they will be done in just over two weeks) I kick it in gear planning for it to start up again.   My preparation begins on the last day of school and I keep on chugging until I make it to their first day.

In fact, I found myself asking my girls to ask their band and orchestra teachers which books they will need for next year so I can order them during the summer.  I also want to sew them a new outfit to wear to their concerts complete with tights and shoes.  They have been sharing their current one for the past three years.  They seem to run neck in neck size wise, one is just shorter.  Amazing huh?

These are fantastic.

There will be the need for clothes, shoes and undergarments.  Coats and jackets plus mittens and hats.  Backpacks and lunch boxes with drink bottles, food containers and ice packs.  School supplies and items for band and orchestra.  Not to mention there will be fees and school pictures.


Just a little bit.

So I eat this elephant one bite at a time.  I make plans and of course there is a big list.  Or three.

I print off the standard school supply list from the school district website.  I also print off the calendar for the next school year so I know when all of the holidays, teacher conferences, early release days, and vacations are scheduled.

On the last day of school we go through all of their leftover supplies and collect those that can be used next year.  I fill in with anything left in the school supply box I keep upstairs in our linen closet.  Items we still need to buy go on the list and I get them when I find them at rock bottom prices.

I find Target usually has the best prices on schools supplies making it worth the crowds and chaos.  ShopKo's loss leaders are pretty good too.  But I'll keep my eyes open everywhere.  Last year, to my surprise, I found notebook paper the cheapest at the grocery store.

I run their backpacks through the wash, hang to dry and do any mending they might need.  If they are completely worn out and need to be replaced I'll add it to the list.  Such was the case for my oldest last year.

Thanks to Grandma the girls were given new lunch boxes two years ago.  They are really nice ones and still in great condition.  I'll run those through the wash with the backpacks.  Their drink bottles and food containers will get a good scrubbing and then soaked in bleach water.  Once dry I put them all in a Ziploc bag and store them until fall.  If I need new bottles or containers I'll add it to the list.

Within the first few weeks of summer we go through all of their clothing and shoes to determine what to keep and what to donate.  Anything that is worn out or full of holes gets repurposed or tossed.  I'll update the list for clothing after that.  Coats and jackets get washed as well.  In the past the oldest has had plenty to pass down to her sister.  However, as they are now pretty close in size it is not too likely there will be much of that this year.

Between sales and thrift stores we usually manage to get what we need for the girl's wardrobes by fall.  We spend the summer working on it so we can avoid the back-to-school masses.  This year we will need to be plenty resourceful too in order to get them ready and spend as little as possible.


  1. Oh my goodness- right before I saw your post I was on the website for my son's potential new school starting in the fall and we were going over the school supply list for his upcoming grade and talking about what he will need for he upcoming school year. I was sure that we were the only people in the world at the moment thinking about fall school supplies a couple of weeks before the previous school year even ends! Haha!

    I also start working on the following school year early so that there is no last minute rush the week before school starts. I find the best sales in basic school supplies at Walmart when the back to school stuff comes out in mid-July. I am now looking into clothes that I think the kids will need for the fall. I also get as much as I can at thrift stores. Sneakers I usually wait until a couple weeks before school starts because my kids feet seem to jump a size in the blink of an eye, but that is the only last minute thing I buy- everything else is bought way in advance.

    I have also discovered something else that some frugal readers may want to check into: over the summer break the school custodians clean out the entire school- every room and every locker- and can you guess what they collect tons of? Pens, pencils, markers, erasers, etc.! My husband did a roof for a lady who was a custodian and she literally had bags and bags FULL of these items and gave my husband a whole bag full of pens and pencils that she collected. We haven't had to buy a pen or pencil in years. She said that they collect many bags of these every summer and give them away because the school would otherwise throw them away. It's just a thought but maybe if some readers go to the local school and ask them if they can have some of the collected supplies it will save them a little money on some of the items that they would have bought.
    Thanks for this post- I enjoyed the fact that we are on the same think-track right now. ;)

    1. Our preparation is never ending. Ha, ha. Our schools save that stuff for a project called Operation School Bell. It provides supplies for kids that can't afford them. They also do a coat drive. I had no idea but you are right. They must clean up a ton of that stuff every year. Great tip.

  2. I no longer have to plan anything around school, but I do remember trying to plan as much as possible in advance. This year Son3 is only coming home for 1 month during the summer and then goes back to work at the school. I guess all this quiet is the payoff for all the years we had kids at home

    1. I still have a little way to go before I'm done but I think I will miss it. Not the expenses, though. I won't miss that at all!

  3. I found a fruitstand selling full flats of delicious strawberries for 6.95. I bought several and made jam for me and giving some away. Uber thrifty move... jam done for the year, some in the freezer, and gave some to a friend. Feels good to give when you have plenty.

    1. Fantastic! I have the itch to make jam too. I was pricing fruit this weekend but still a little high. Not quite in peak season here yet. Soon though. So nice of you to share your bounty.


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