Back to school shopping for backpacks, pencils, highlighters, notebooks, gym clothes, street clothes, lunchboxes, and more wreak havoc on a tight family budget
All these things seem like they would result in a mass expenditure, but that doesn’t have to be case. With specific strategies in mind, you can walk out the door paying a decent amount for all your kids.
Take a trip to the 99 Cents Only store for school supplies. Depending on your store’s selection, you may or may not find what you need. However, most stores carry a great selection of notebooks and other general school supplies.
Shoes can easily exceed $30 each, even for the kids. With this in mind, look for stores that offer coupons or discounts on overall purchases, such as Kohls, Sears, JcPenney. Alternatively, you can shop at secondhand stores, such as Goodwill and Ross––you’ll never know what treasures linger on the shelves. Some shoes might have wear and tear, but others will be barely worn. Also, if you can wait a bit, Staples usually clears out bunches of office and school supplies in September, after the normal rush season.
For families with Costco memberships, look at the store’s backpack selections. You will find back packs with various designs. Depending on the size and style, the packs range from $10-20, they aren’t overly expensive, and they’re usually crafted well. One of the more popular brands, High Sierra, generally ranges from $20-30. If you have a Walmart nearby, the store carries child Good News––if you have boys that love superheroes and girls that love Disney princesses, Walmart will satisfy all the kiddos.
Where you look for clothes will depend on what school your child or children attend(s). If they need uniforms, any department store generally has a section with polos, khakis or dress pants, blazers, and ties. However, if the kids can wear anything, thrift stores are the best. However, if you want to treat everyone to back-to-school clothes, Walmart and Kohls often go all out with back-to-school clothing sales.
Now comes the harder part: food. Costco is a great option for families with multiple children because they can purchase the same snacks and share with everyone. However, not everyone needs to buy in bulk. In that case, the 99 Cents Only store is a great option for vegetables and snacks. Buy more expensive things––berries, meat, and dairy products––at grocery stores with constant sales, such as Aldi and Stater Bros. For families that want to only eat health foods, shop at Trader Joe’s or Sprouts.
What about technology? This one is up to you. Not all kids can handle a phone or computer, but some will need either or both––usually high-schoolers. If your kids walk home from school and you want to check in on them, purchase a tracfone.
For older kids who need computers, check out TigerDirect or Amazon. Look for refurbished models that are like new, but not as expensive as completely new products.
Don’t spend a fortune this month on items for school. Instead, know where you can save or splurge, and budget accordingly.
Jehn Kubiak is a Biola University journalism graduate and current pastoral care and counseling major at the Talbot School of Theology. She is a San Diego native who enjoys distance swimming, coffee, dogs, and painting. She loves researching and writing about people, sports, activities, and more.