Back to school shopping is expensive. Maybe you are like me and still avoiding”Back to School Shopping”, even though school starts in just a few weeks. It’s not too late you can still get back to school deals. Today, Jamie Jeffers of Medium Sized Family has some practical tips to help us save this year and for many years to come.
When my big middle school boys were just little guys, I looked for the best possible deal on shoes. I couldn’t believe that some parents spent so much money on name brand shoes for little kids! Not me. I didn’t care what the brand was as long as the boys had something to wear to school.
So I shopped around and found pairs for both of them for $15 each. Not too bad!
Until a month later, when my second born (it’s always the second born!) ripped his shoes up so badly that his toes would come through the front.
After that, I decided that spending more on Nikes that lasted longer wasn’t such a bad deal after all.
Ramit Sethi defines the difference between cheap and frugal like this: “Cheap people care about the cost of something. Frugal people care about the value of something.”
Keep that in mind when you’re back to school shopping this year. There are some items that you’ll want to spend the lowest price on. Other items are worth some investment. Spend a little more this year and you’ll save for years to come.
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How To Shop The Back to School Deals
Worth the Investment
It took a couple of broken superhero backpacks for me to learn that the cheap bags won’t even make it to Christmas. This is one area that’s worth the investment. You’ll pay two or three times the cost of a character backpack. But you can find bags that will last them their entire k-12 school career.
Ditto the fun $5 lunch boxes. They just don’t hold up to the daily beating my kids give them. Grab a lunch box that holds up to an entire water bottle spill. And that’s after it’s smashed to the bottom of a bag.
Many of the companies that sell reliable backpacks also sell durable lunch boxes. If the cost is too much for one year, don’t worry. Grab the backpack this year. Next year, use the money you don’t have to spend on a backpack to invest in a lunch box!
(I recommend you grab a small basket and use my easy method for lunch packing while you’re shopping!)
Some kids are easier on shoes and they’ll outlast the school year. Other kids seem to be on a mission to destroy even the most well-made shoe.
Then you’ve got middle schoolers who seem to outgrow shoes on a weekly basis. (How is my boy already wearing a size 10 men’s shoe?!)
So you’ll have to decide how to invest your shoe dollars based on your child’s shoe personality. I’ll buy each child a good quality pair of shoes once per school year. After that, they have to find a way to pay for replacements, or I’ll buy them a cheap pair. That sometimes helps them take better care of their footwear.
We have good luck with Nikes and I love New Balance. If you have a Gabe’s in your area, I’d shop there first. Otherwise, look for coupons to pair with deals at your favorite shoe shop.
Selected for you: The Back to School Resources to start your school year right
I used to think that all binders were the same. You might as well get a bargain because nothing can withstand the beating my boys give a binder.
Then a reader told me about the Staples binder guarantee. You buy a well-made binder that’s built for life. If it does fail, Staples backs it with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Return a broken binder and get another… but these things are so well made, you probably won’t have to!
You can bet I’ll be trying this out this year.
Save Your Money
Though some will tell you to invest in good quality pencils, consider your child’s age and personality. If they’re going to get lost or broken, the quality or a cute saying on the side won’t matter.
Those cute fabric book covers at the store never seem to fit the books just right. More often than not, they get tossed within weeks.
You’re better off asking if they have a paper bag at check out. (Some stores still have them. If nothing else, pay 5 cents and get one from Aldi!) If you’ve forgotten how to do this, here’s directions.
In the digital age, this one is making more appearances on supply lists. Keep in mind not only the age and maturity of your own child but also of kids in his classroom. You’d hate to spend a ton of money on these only to find out that they got lost. (Or someone took a pair of scissors to them in the second week of school!)
This is one time you might be better off buying multiple cheap pairs rather than one nice set.
Shop smart for the best back to school deals this year, and you’ll save yourself both time and money for years to come!
My boys think I’m a great Mom for getting them nice shoes. Hey, they don’t need to know that it’s actually saving me a lot of cash!
What’s your school shopping style? Are there other supplies that are worth the investment?