Surviving Back to School Shopping

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Summer is coming to a close and parents everywhere are preparing for their kids to head back to school. Don’t schedule lunch with the Mom-friends just yet, cause before we can bask in the glory of a few kid free hours, we gotta get these back to school errands done! It’s ok guys, we can do this, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep calm and read on for a few ways I handle these tasks.

Less is More

Don’t get me wrong, ya’ll know I love to shop, but who ever said you had to fund your child’s entire wardrobe three weeks before he/she starts? Before I do any shopping, I go through my kids’ clothes to take inventory of what they have, what they need, what just needs a good cleaning (mostly their shoes), and what can be donated. This helps me

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create a shopping list for what else they’ll need in this current season; example, it’s scorching hot in Northern California, so I’m focussing on summer clothes and will skip buying them pants for now.


So what do I actually buy them? For me, that first day outfit is a priority. Not only do I want a nice picture of my child, but I want them to feel GREAT on their first day.. and a new outfit does that. I also let them pick out some “fun” inexpensive items like a folder, notebook, planner, pencil case.. things that they’ll need but that come in their favorite character prints or designs they love.

Convenience > Everything

I am not an online shopper.. until I look at my to do list, glance at my four kids, and see that my coffee cup is empty.. then I become an “add to cart” connoisseur. My one requirement is that the retailers I shop with have to offer free shipping and a brick and mortar store (close by) where I can easily do returns or exchanges if necessary. Using the shopping list I created, I buy things I know may be hard to locate in store (ever have your tween ask for a specific pair of sneakers?), at a price point that will be the same, if not

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better, than in store. See my top kid clothing retailers and how I save here.

I also like using shopping apps! Google Express is my favorite because you can shop from multiple stores in one app and have it delivered to your doorstep, most of the time for free if you meet the minimum spending requirements. Simply download the app, shop (they offer Target, WalMart, Costco and more), then check out. While clothes are offered, I usually order supplies or food for my kids’ lunch boxes. If you care to give it a try, new users can get $10 off their first order by clicking here.

Shop Smart

  • Year Round Savings – I have a stash of school supplies that I purchased at a discount hidden away from sight. Something about buying ten packs of glue screams “use me for slime!” to my kids, and by October we’re scrambling to put together a diorama because we lack necessary supplies. Back to my point, I know my kids will be in constant need of pencils, crayons, paper, and glue so I stock up when these items are at their lowest (usually a quarter or less) then shop out of my stash before they begin school.
  • Dollar Stores – These actually aren’t always the cheapest place to get supplies surprisingly! Places like Office Depot and Staples will offer back to school supplies for as low as a quarter, so its important to check sales ads before you go. You can still score calculators, backpacks, construction paper, and other items on your list at the Dollar Tree or 99 Cent Only Store.
  • Be in the Know – Compare sales and know which stores price match competitors so that you’re not wasting gas while trying to “save” at multiple stores. Search online for coupons to stack with sales, sign up for email lists, and even set your “birthday” to the month before school starts to receive exclusive offers when you actually need them (this works great for shoe retailers like Nike, Champs, and Finish Line).

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Spread it out mamas.. back to school shopping does not have to be a grand affair or a mad dash to the mall. Remind yourself of what your kids already have, prioritize what they need right now, and stick to a list. The goal is to provide the necessities for our children while maintaining our sanity.. all while saving a few bucks. You can do it, and if you need more ideas, follow me on Instagram where I’ll be sharing all my adventures in back to school shopping!