Getting kidsset up with new school supplies, clothes and classes before September starts can be a real hit on the bank account. While your kindergartner might not yet be too fussy about what she wears,older kids will certainly have opinions on what they will and won’t wear to school. And extra-curricular activities and their tuition costs can add up quickly.
How to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping
Hit the sales. Especially when shopping for school supplies and stationary, the best deals to be found are in the peak of back-to-school season at big-box stores. If you have a few specialty items you want to buy, like beeswax modeling clay or natural paints, pick those up separately at specialty stores, but when you need 50 plain yellow pencils, hit the chain stores and stock up for the year. Remember to bring your child’s supply list!
Involve kids in budgeting and shopping. Older kids especially can benefit from working within a set amount and choosing clothes that fit in the budget. This is a good way to accommodate the tween who suddenly needs to have designer clothes. They will have to choose between having a few new outfits or only one new pair of expensive jeans in order to work within their budget.
Seek out secondhand clothes As kids grow older and more active, it gets harder and harder to find good quality secondhand clothes, but it is still possible. Check consignment shops like Wee Ones Reruns or Little Earth, and scour the thrift stores. Accept offers of hand me downs. Even if kids won’t wear them to school, having secondhand clothes for messy play and doing art at home can extend the life of their good school clothes.
Budget for durability. In today’s fast-paced fashion world, clothes are often designed to be worn for one season before going out of style or wearing out. It can be difficult to find good-quality clothes that are designed to last, but do your best to buy the highest quality shoes, coats and boots you can afford for your child. Staying warm and dry is important, and better quality clothes will stay in good condition longer and can be passed on to siblings or younger friends.
Choose only one extra-curricular activity. Not only is having a child in dance, piano and soccer much more expensive, it’s also consuming all of the child’s time for play, exploration and family time outside of school. Slow parenting, a spinoff of the slow food movement, encourages reducing the number of activities that children are part of, and the benefits go far beyond your budget.
Staying on budget when it comes to shopping for your kids can be a tricky thing, especially if they are at your side pleading, “Come on, Mom! I can’t wear that.” But being honest with kids about money, budgeting and spending carefully is a valuable education in financial responsibility that will serve them well for years to come.
What about you – do you have any tips to share for keeping back-to-school shopping on budget? Let us know in the comments section!
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: "who moved the scissors?", "how would you do that differently next time?" and "are you finished with the glitter glue?" Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously. She recently published her first ebook, The Parenting Primer: A guide to positive parenting in the first six years, and moved to Bowen Island.