My daughter, with an entirely straight face, informs me that both my grand-daughters are excited to get back to school.
If this is actually the truth and not wishful thinking on her part then I have only one question:
Who are these children and where did they come from?
I never looked forward to going back to school in the fall at least not until college when I could not WAIT to get away from the shackles of home again.
That being the case, I did like the whole shopping excursion to get school supplies. Back then all we needed were pencils, lined paper, an eraser, nothing fancy. Kids these days. The competition for their school supply dollar is stiff to say the very least. That’s where you can, again, hit the dollar store for nearly all your kids’ school supply needs.
I am going to suggest a different strategy, one where you actually buy more than you think you need. This will save on tantrums, your temper and gas. If your kids are anything like my daughter, they will come to you at 9:30 p.m. the night before a project is due, one that requires poster board and a home made volcano. The only supplies you are likely to have in the house at that point is vinegar, food coloring and baking soda so buy a good supply of poster board and other crafting supplies like paint brushes, modeling clay, crafting sticks, paints, extra markers (because the will have left theirs at school) Plaster of Paris, etc. I used to store everything in a simple cardboard box in the garage and when my daughter would suddenly remember a project that was due the very next day, I would calmly point in the direction of the garage and wish her good luck. She learned very quickly to remember projects much earlier because the rule was, unless I was going to the store anyway, I was not making a specific run for project supplies until the weekend; the garage box would have to do. Fortunately for my daughter, I always seem to have a ready supply of plastic containers, bottles and such in the recycle bin that she could press into service though heaven help her if her memory kicked in the day after garbage pick up day.
As for other back to school items such as lunch boxes and backpacks, try the local discount stores such as Ross. I’ve found great deals on sturdy black backpacks. Allow your kids to decorate them any way that’s appropriate. Lunch box choices are highly dependent on what’s cool these days though my elder granddaughter asked for the Wizard of Oz. What can I say, that child loves a classic. In this case, I say let them have what they want, within reason and budget, because a paper bag everyday is downright wasteful. Save a tree. My mom friends tell me that Target and Amazon have good deals for lunch pails. And my rule on binders was similar to backpacks, buy plain ones with a plastic insert liner on the cover so your kids can create their own art work to decorate them. For fashion loving teens, the price of a fashion magazine isn’t terribly restrictive as far as art goes. Kids can also go on line and print out appropriate art to express themselves. I also think creating photos of beloved pets and other things they love and blowing them up is cheap. In fact, the cost of an 8 x 10 photo at Costco is just $1.79.
Check out my four part blog series on fun and frugal fashion coming up; kids, teens, women and men. It has many useful tips, strategies and hacks for saving money on clothing.