With back to school time rolling around, parents all across the country are counting their pennies, and pulling out their credit cards to buy the copious amounts of back-to-school supplies that are deemed “necessary” every year. According to the Back-to-School 2019 survey from the National Retail Federation, families spend on average about $700 for supplies, clothing, shoes, and tech just to get their kiddos ready to go. But you don’t have to spend that money if you use these frugal back to school hacks.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t just have an extra $700 laying around. Where a lot of people live, that’s the equivalent of a mortgage payment or rent for a month. It’s not just chump change.
So, with that in mind, here are some more tips (we shared other tips in this article) to get you and your kiddos rearing and ready to go for back to school on a budget.
Let’s Talk Supplies
Ah, school supplies. The colorful binders, the sparkly pencil cases, the new lunch bags, and backpacks. The front of every Walmart (and most consumer stores), is jam-packed with all the “deals and discounts” and items that every child desperately “needs.”
In reality, most of the things your kids need you may already have at home, and you certainly don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars on impulse buys.
First things first, take stock of your supplies. Go around your house. Do your kids still have their pencil cases full of barely used pencil crayons, a perfectly good pencil sharpener, and a bunch of erasers still lying around? And, even if they don’t have everything, I’m sure they still at least have a few things.
What shape is their backpack and lunch bag in? Can it be reused? Yes? Then that’s at least $30 right there you don’t need to spend. Now, if you’ve got a young one who wants something new and cool, different from last year, even though what they have is in great condition, go to the aisle with all the sew-on and iron-on patches, or check them out at the dollar store. Even if they pick $5 dollars worth of patches, fake jewels, or fun ribbons to spice up last year’s bags, you’re still saving money, plus, they’re going to have the coolest and most unique backpack in class.
And, for those few items that you inevitably still need, check your flyers, price match, and find the best deals. Even if you only save a few dollars here or there it adds up.
Back to School Clothes
So many parents will go and buy a whole new wardrobe for their little ones and going back to school. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to have new clothes. Growing up though, we were always on a tight budget, so for us, we got 1 new outfit for the first day of school. Other than that, we kept things pretty cheap.
I remember practically living on hand-me-downs, and honestly, most times I loved it! Getting those garbage bags full of clothes that I had no clue what it would be? Well, I found it super exciting! Now, while hand-me-downs are fabulous, I know not everyone has someone in their life who can pass down clothes.
Something you could try doing is to organize a clothing swap. Have lots of mom friends? Lots of families in your neighborhood or apartment building? Organize an afternoon where everyone brings the clothing they don’t need anymore and just have a free for all sorting through clothes!
A few other places you can check for discounted kids clothing;
- Shop at thrift stores instead of buying brand new
- See if there are kid’s clothes up for sale on your local buy and sell market. Try looking at places like Facebook Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, (Kijiji for those in Canada), Varagesale. There are a ton of places you can buy second-hand clothes dirt cheap.
- Check out your local yard sales and garage sales. Sometimes these are a great place to find discount clothes (and sometimes other school supplies as well!)
Lunches on a Budget
Back to school snacks are definitely a necessity. After all, your kids need to eat throughout the day. But, snacks can just be a fortune! So, this is where a lot of money can be saved. Here are just a few tips;
Buy in Bulk – Instead of buying bags of independently wrapped snacks and goodies, try buying the bigger bag or box, and just divide it into your own serving-size containers or ziplock bags at home.
Make it from Scratch – Let’s use rice crispies as an example. Rice crispies squares are a great easy and tasty snack to make for your kiddos. You might spend about $5 to make a huge batch at home, or you can buy the independently wrapped ones, for twice the prices and 1/4 of the quantity. Just by taking that extra 10 minutes to do it yourself, you can save a fortune on your kid’s snacks.
A few other snacks you can make from home:
Skip the Cafeteria – While cafeteria food is convenient, pizza days are a blast, and milk with lunch is tasty, they all add up. Just by making your lunches at home, you’ll be saving a fortune, plus, you can make it even healthier and tastier. Once in a while makes for a great treat, but every day? Well, most of us don’t have the budget for that.
Little back to school hacks add up
While back to school will almost always cost some, there is no reason that it should be breaking the bank. There are so many ways you can save money and spend less. It might only be $5 here, $1 over there, it all adds up. Even by saving on the little things, you’ll thank yourself down the road.
What are your back-to-school hacks to save money?