How to Keep Back-to-School From Breaking the Bank

by Alexa Mason · 2 comments

My oldest daughter just started kindergarten — and I’m quickly realizing school is going to be more expensive than I’d anticipated.

Though I was ready for some expenses, like clothes, lunches, and supplies, others — like the classroom cleaning supplies and tissues — caught me by surprise.

Here are the ways I’ve been trying to keep back-to-school costs down:

Buy A Year’s Worth of Supplies Now

School supplies aren’t going to be any cheaper than they are right now. Stocking up for the whole year (while crayons are fifty cents a pack) makes more sense than paying two dollars in a month.

You don’t have to go overboard, but just grab a couple extras of the main items your children use. This way, you’ll have them on hand when it comes time to replenish.

Don’t Pack Prepackaged Food

If you’re going to be packing your kids’ lunches, then skip the prepackaged items.

Since my oldest daughter is a picky eater, we’ve opted to pack her lunch instead of buying it. I went to the grocery store to stock up on lunch foods, and I was blown away by the price of prepackaged lunches.

For instance, a pizza lunch kit containing three small pizzas, a mini Butterfinger bar, and a Capri Sun ran about $4. Considering how little food is included, the price is pretty ridiculous.

Instead, it would be much cheaper and healthier to avoid prepackaged food altogether. I’m packing my daughter some variation of grapes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, carrots, cheese sticks, and a juice box.

Buy Off-Brand Clothes

Unless you’re the parent of a teenager who demands name brands (I remember those days), then you should be able to get by on a relatively low clothes budget.

I mean, honestly: how many new clothes do kids need for school? Not a lot.

Chances are all your child’s new school clothes are going to look just like the old ones after a couple of wears. There’s no need to break the bank.

I got many of my daughter’s school clothes off the Walmart clearance rack, and her shoes came from BOGO sales at K-Mart. The truth is she’s had so many clothes gifted to her by family members that I could’ve gotten away with buying her only new socks.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a brand new school wardrobe, don’t feel bad. After a week in school, kids will forget all about their new clothes anyways!

Any back-to-school veterans out there who can give me more savings tips? 

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  • Kate @ Money Propeller says:

    I’m not a real fan of branded clothes because the child grows rapidly. I only bought a branded bag, which is a Barbie bag, it’s my daughter’s favorite cartoon character.

    • David @ says:

      My school actually banned cartoon clothing at the beginning, but they’ve softened their tone because it seemed a bit too strict. I’m glad though, because my daughter wants to wear her Frozen shirt 6 days a week (and My Little Pony the 7th!)

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