Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How I Keep Back-To-School Expenses Low

Back-to-school time is here again.  Already!  I am always sad to see it come.  Summers go by so fast and I miss my kids, but there are plenty of school holidays to spend time with them so I will look forward to those.

Getting two children ready for school can be a bit overwhelming and for larger families even more so.  But long ago I figured out a way to keep it from not only overwhelming me, but our budget as well.

I get ready for school all year long.

That's right.  I am always getting ready for back-to-school.

This is one time of year when stores really knock back the price of paper, notebooks, glue, crayons, markers and what have you assuming that while you are there you will also be buying other things that are much more expensive.

I load up.  Not only on what we need now but what we will need in throughout the school year and even the following year.  I also stock up for the home office as well as gifts and stocking stuffers.  I always keep extra boxes of crayons, markers and colored pencils.

We recycle too.  At the end of each school year we go through everything the girls drag home on the last day of school and keep everything that can be re-used and purge the rest.  I wash and repair backpacks (it is not a given that you get a new one each year) and we get out the supply list (sent home on the last day) and reload those backpacks.  I make a list of what we are missing or low on so I can make sure and stock up on those items once the good sales hit.

Note:  About a week or so after school starts a lot of stores put those supplies on clearance and that is a good time to stock up as well.

I buy clothing all year long, usually in the off season when it is on clearance.  I save a ton buy not purchasing anything new that isn't on sale and clearance racks are my preferred place to shop.

We check out thrift stores from time to time as well and have found a lot of nice higher end items for a song.  A lot of the things we get are brand new and still have the price tags on them.

We happily accept hand me downs.  Friends with older children are a godsend and I appreciate it greatly when they offer their outgrown clothes to us.


My least favorite part of our free public education system are the fees and exorbitant costs of yearbooks and activity cards (required if your child participates in sports or other after school activities).  Don't about forget school pictures too.

I plan ahead and try to anticipate these expenses.  Then I add extra to the budget in hopes I've got it covered.  To make sure I do I use my credit card and pay them off the following month once they are in school which allows me two months to shuffle the budget around and cover those costs.  Plus I like the rewards points I earn with my credit card to put toward free gift cards.

To know what I am getting myself into I check the school district website often and if I'm still not sure I call the school and ask.

As I've already shared with you on other occasions we pack our own.  I buy all of us good sturdy insulated lunch boxes and we use ice packs we bought at the dollars store to keep things cool.  Each of the girls also has a wide mouth Thermos for hot foods since they don’t have access to a microwave.

I buy a few small individual size bottles of milk at the grocery store and then we wash and re-use them throughout the year.  A baby bottle brush I purchased at the dollar store is a great tool to help keep them nice and clean.

I am a notorious list maker and I constantly go through and take inventory of what we have and what we need.  I do my best not to have to be one of those moms shopping for school clothes and shoes in the final weeks of summer when the prices are higher.  I am also fortunate in that my children are not obsessed with having the latest and greatest in anything.  Last year's tennis shoes and styles are fine with them as are used items that are still in great shape.

That's how I do it.  How about you?

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