Make Back To School Frugal And Fun For Everyone

Written by Brooke Wagner
I just love school supplies. I remember picking them out as a little girl, in awe of all the colors and possibilities for my school year.

I’m pretty certain my mom did not enjoy those outings as much as I did! It’s an expense that looms over families all Summer.

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The good news is, there’s never been a better time to buy supplies.

Just this week, I found a six pack of Elmer’s glue sticks for $1 at Target, really cute backpacks for $7 at Old Navy, notebooks for 20 cents at Walmart, 79 cent scissors at Walgreens, and the grocery stores have some great deals, too. If you go to a store that price matches, you’ll save even more.

However, there’s nothing wrong with crossing off your list as you go, picking out the best deals when you’re in a store for something unrelated.

I said I love school supplies – but mostly, I love buying them AFTER school starts. I like buying the 10 cent scissors, 25 cent Crayolas, and $2 binders and sticking them in a clearly labeled box for NEXT year. I like to check out the 75% off shelves about two weeks after school starts.

That’s when my kids can go with me and pick out the things they think are cool.

I always, always, always go shopping at home first. This is the top rule for frugal school supply shopping.

The kids and I make a game out of it — like a scavenger hunt — cruising around the house, trying to check off what we already have.

Many schools have partnered with companies that pre-package school supplies based on the specific school and grade level. A portion of the profit goes back to the school, which is a great reason to try this method, especially considering most schools’ budgetary situations these days.

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I also like these kits because they save time, save gas, and keep parents from making impulse buys. In fact, I’ve seen pre-packaged supply kits that are school and grade specific at King Soopers for as low as $25 in years past, and imagine how much we’d save by simply picking up a kit with the groceries, instead of being surrounded by many other temptations!

I should note here, another way to give back to your school is through special programs like Target’s credit card, which gives a percentage of every purchase you make to your designated school.

Talk about temptations; if your children love to go school shopping with you, set some ground rules before you go. It’s up to you to decide what’s reasonable. In my house, we say the kids can pick one non-essential item — more, if they’re willing to pay with their own money.

I give them stickers and markers at home to “customize” their supplies and make them feel more fun. I talk the children through the whole process, so they understand why looking at an over-stuffed cart makes me queasy. I want my kids to like what they have, but I also want to teach them what matters is who you are, not what you have.

All parents know, back-to-school shopping is not just about classroom supplies. It’s about that trendy new outfit or hot pair of $100 sneakers. Most back to school clothes can’t be worn for a couple of months into the school year, because it’s simply still too warm for Fall clothes.

So, I hold off on buying new school clothes and shoes until the Fall sales start. And, I make sure I have coupons in tow.

Please let me know about your school supply tips! I can’t believe it’s that time already! Enjoy the rest of the summer.

About The Blogger

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– In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now.