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Back-to-school shopping: 8 tips to stay within budget

How to get what your kids need without breaking the bank

by Single Ma  |  11781 views  |  5 comments  |        Rate this now! 

4.) Get ready to kick ‘em out and celebrate having the house all to yourself again! LOL

About the Author

A working (single) mom and author of the personal finance blog Fabulous Financials @

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5 comments so far...

  • I appreciate the list from the school and usually let her choose one new outfit for the start of school. Local discounter runs great sales in the "approved" before school time that you NEVER see the rest of the year.
    However it isn't an all new wardrobe, I think she got one "character" notebook this year, the rest are whatever was the $.50 a piece version.
    Other "I wants" become suggestions for the Christmas list.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 23rd August 2010

  • I did the back-to-school thing for the first year or two of my children's schooling. Having been homeschooled till they were ten or so, we were all kind of intrigued by the whole back-to-school excitement, and wanted to experience it all! It didn't take me (and my wallet) long to come to the same conclusions you've reached here.

    When my kids reached high school, and wanted the new things because of social pressures, I was always very understanding... so long as they were buying these non-essentials themselves! Because when you have a perfectly good backpack in a closet in your room, and you want a new one because it's this year's colour or label or whatever? That's a luxury, honey, not an essential, and you can buy it with your own money. It's astonishing how quickly a "must-have" becomes a "non-essential" when they have to pay for it!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 27th August 2008

  • This is my son's first year and I am glad to read this article. I have been feeling bad because I cannot afford to buy like that. He does have everything he needs but I have bought through out the year when I found good deals in preparation for him starting. I do shop thrift and yards sales but everything is in like new condition so no one will ever be the wiser. Thanks Single Ma for a great article.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by blessedmom2sweetboys on 12th August 2008

  • hahahaaa I do all of this!!! luckily for me my kids schools send a list in the mail of the supplies needed.. especially when it requires a dang scientific calculator!!! it gives me time to budget for said items and look for the best deal. As for clothes.. I don't buy for that same reason.. they get a few pieces to mix and match with what they already have and I'm a sucker for a new pair of shoes LOL

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by BK on 12th August 2008

  • I agree! My daughters (6 & 7) only need a few filler items to be completely "back to school" ready. Luckily, because they are close in age, my youngest daughter gets hand-me-downs that she is completely thrilled to have. :) My oldest daughter, frugal little miss that she is... loves bargain shopping with mommy. At the end of the school year, we go through items that no longer fit/are damaged etc., and we decide what we'll do with them. Salvation army, uniform swap (at the beginning of the school year), garage sale, etc. After that, we go to the Salvation Army and check out what others have returned. There is often an entire rack devoted to school uniforms. I purchased 6 pairs of pants, 8 shirts and two jackets for $37. I see NO reason to spend a lot of money on clothes that they tend to mess up. I also shop on e-bay. I just recently won a bid for 8 brand new French Toast shirts for $14. That included shipping. Over the summer, I'd pick up something here or there if it was on sale, etc. As far as an item such as shoes, we generally shop at Payless and Target for their shoes. There are plenty of quality shoes there.

    I run a home based business on the side, so I always have supplies. My kids go shopping in my supply cart for the school year. I rarely have to buy more than a few items for them. Even when i do, it's normally something special on the teachers list. If I didn't have a business, I'd probably get most of what's on the list from the dollar store. Local convenience stores like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid often have GREAT deals for supplies as well. Sometimes even better than the larger stores. It's definitely a good idea to check the ads.

    Overall, there are so many things going on that we'll have to pay for at the beginning of a school year, I'd rather save when I can and where I can.


    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kells on 12th August 2008