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Most parents approach back to school with a mixture of relief and dread. On one hand, you're excited and relieved that the summer has finally come to an end. On the other hand, you now have to deal with long lists of supplies, getting back into a routine, and appeasing your children's needs to fit in at school.
It is a hard thing to balance it all and it can be an expensive thing, especially if you have more than one child to get supplies, clothes, and food for. The back-to-school shopping adventure can be downright stressful, so it's important that we can cut corners in certain places.
Now, not all schools are the same. Some provide the supplies for you and others ask that you simply donate a small fee in order to help the teachers/school provide the adequate supplies to your children. And then there are the schools that send home lists of things that your child will "need" for the coming school year.
If your kids go to one of those schools, don't worry too much about it. There are a few places that you can cut corners in order to maximize your shopping.
Additionally, you can cut corners when it comes to back to school clothes and all the items that will make the whole school year go by more smoothly.
Here are three places you can look to save money and make your back to school journey a little easier.
1. If it's not broke... don't buy it!
There seems to be this need to buy everything "new" at the beginning of every school year. I'm not sure when that started because it wasn't as much of a thing when I was going through school. Many of the items that we used the previous year were still good to use again the next year. Backpacks and lunch kits were reused until they were falling apart. Pencil cases, pencils, and pencil crayons were sorted and used again. Even binders and folders were reused. We would just put a blank label over the previous label.
You have enough bits and pieces lying around from the previous year to meet all the requirements of your teacher's wishlist. You simply might have to dig around a bit for them all. There is no sense buying new everything when you already have it at home.
2. You don't need all those things.
You really don't need everything on your child's list. You don't need 12 HB pencils. No one will go through that many pencils in a school year. One or two will suffice. Same with pens, erasers, and highlighters. You also don't need 100 markers or pencil crayons. The basic colours will do any child fine. No one needs twelve different shades of blue in order to make it through the school year.
Sometimes you can cut corners on the binders and folders as well. One per subject is usually the rule but in some of the younger grades, they are lucky if they go through two a year. Use your best judgement on these things. If your child desperately needs it later, you can always pick it up. But save some money up front on something that may not be needed later.
3. New Clothing
When I was going through school, it was tradition that we got one new outfit to go back to school with. This usually meant a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and maybe a sweater. Shoes were included, but only if we really needed them.
It seems now parents are buying their kids whole new wardrobes simply to go back to school. Are the clothes in their closet not good enough for public? What happened to it all?
I can understand if your child went through a crazy summer growth spurt and you need to replace everything, but for the most part, the clothes they wore in the summer will do just fine to go back to school with.
Buy what is needed. Buy shoes if they have trashed the ones they have. Buy fall clothes if they have outgrown their old stuff. But they don't need the shiny new outfit to make their reappearance at school. This isn't the runway in Milan, this is public school. They will survive.
Be smart when you are back to school shopping. Give yourself a budget, if necessary. Reuse what you can. Buy new what you have to. There is no overseeing council that is going to get your child in trouble for wearing the same shoes as last year or having the same backpack.
School stuff doesn't have to be expensive. Spend your money on things that matter more, like healthy lunch snacks and all the school trips your child is going to want to go on.