Who loves back to school time? Who dreads it? I'm among those who dread it. Not only do I miss the time with my kids that summer provides, I also think back to school season can get a bit overwhelming. Let's not even get started with the lists from the schools and the teachers and all those supplies!
I'm sure you already know this but, back to school shopping can very quickly blossom into an expensive creature. I know school budgets are tight. So is mine. The lists the schools send home can very quickly get overwhelming and expensive. I prefer to find a way to make it a bit more organized and a lot less expensive and stressful.
Having homeschooled my girls for a good part of their education, I never knew exactly how expensive back to school shopping could get…unless you count the cost of curriculum and then I've got the back to school shopping beat for sure. However, I have been amazed at how specific the lists are as well as how much the school requires that we bring in and how much they want each student to have. So, today, I'm going to show you how you can tackle back to school like a pro…with your sanity and most(OK some) of your wallet intact.
This post is part of my #RealOrganized series. If you want the whole series, just click the graphic above or you can click here to sign up to have each week of this series and all the freebies directly emailed to you. The goal of this series is for you to be able to organize some of the things that as moms, we have to deal with on a yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily basis. By getting these things organized we can free up time in our week as well as space in our homes and minds. The main goal is to feel more organized and less clouded as moms so we can find time and space to spend with our family as well as do things we love and find fulfilling.
Last week, you tackled being real organized with your kid's clothes shopping. This week is going to be very similar.
First up, you need one location in your home to store school supplies. There are always extras or things the kids need at home or just things that they want you to keep and send in during the year. Have one spot to keep all of that. It makes it easy for the kids to get what they need and it makes it easy for you to know what you have when it comes to back to school shopping. It will also save you money in the long run and doesn't need to take up tons of space.
If you have totally overbought in years past, you may need to put some of your school supplies in a bin and store it. If that is the case, my Storage Organization System may be helpful to you so you can keep track of what you have and where it is and use up your extras before you buy more.
Now that you have all of those supplies in one place and the whole family knows where they are, it is going to make tackling the back to school shopping and those lists from the school so much easier.
At the bottom of this post, I have a printable for you to help you keep track of what you have and what you need. Print one off for all of your kids as well as one of the lists from the school for each child.
Take those lists to that spot in your house where you keep all the extra school supplies.
Now you just need to mesh the lists together.
Start by marking down what you have. Then compare that to what the school requests that you bring in and mark down what you will need in the need column.
I would recommend that you do this in pencil so you can change things as needed. So, if child A needs 2 packs of 12 pencils and child B needs 3 packs of 12 pencils, then you would add that you need 5 packs of 12 pencils onto this list. Continue like this for both lists until you have everything onto the one printable.
Now you either need to put this completed list in your purse and make sure you have it with you when you shop or you need to move this list to an app that will help you know exactly what you need.
Once you have finished that, you have finished the hard part. Now, if you can complete this a few weeks to one month before school is to start, you can watch emails as they come in for sales that will help you save money on this big list.
The other thing to watch for are any statewide specials. In our state, there is one weekend where they offer no sales tax on all back to school supplies. It can add some great savings though I am not a morning person, so I have generally found that I need to have my supplies purchased before that weekend or they are all gone and totally picked over by the time I get there.
Another tip for non-couponers, like me, is to use the Cartwheel app(iOS and Android) and a Target Red Card (Debit card) (affiliate link). You can still save money even if you don't shop sales or have coupons. Just scan your items in the Cartwheel app and generally, you will find discounts. Fun! The Target (affiliate link) Red Card gives you 5% off of all of your purchases, so you save no matter what each time you use it. Love that!
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