Back To School Shopping: What Do You Truly Need?

Back to school shopping is one of those events that brings both sadness and elation. Because it denotes the harsh reality that summer is almost over; you hate it. However, because you get to go shopping for new clothes, lunch boxes, and backpacks, it is also a time of jubilation (if you like shopping).

The National Retail Federation estimates that the average family will spend nearly $630 on back to school shopping for kids in pre-k through 12th grade. To learn how to save money with coupons, click here.

Back To School Shopping

Back To School Shopping Tips:

Take Inventory of what you already have. Go through closets, drawers, desk drawers, and any extra office supplies you keep on hand.

Remove the worn, stain or ripped clothing and throw them in the trash or turn into rags. Next, make a pile of clothes that your child has outgrown. You can donate these items to a charitable foundation such as Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army.

Remember that summer clothes will usually work during the early part of the school year while it is still warm until fall. I am a firm believer that a good, sturdy pair of shoes is vital for growing feet, so you should plan on buying a new pair of sneakers.

Make A List of school supplies and clothing that your child will need. There is a difference between what your child “wants” and what your child “needs” so adjust your list accordingly in two separate columns.

Set a dollar amount for back to school shopping. It is easy to get carried away, but if you go shopping with a dollar amount in mind, you are less likely to overspend. For more tips on being a frugal shopper, click here.

Let your child know that you need to purchase needed items first and the wanted items can be purchased if there is money left in the budget.

You can usually find a back to school shopping supplies list on your school’s website. If you do not have a list that you can print off, be sure to keep your receipts so that you can return items that you do not need.

Also, it is a good idea to check your school’s website or give them a call to confirm any dress code guidelines they have in place. Some common concerns include short and skirt lengths, and clothing that contain antisocial messages.

If your child is going to be taking their lunch to school, you may need a new lunch box. Your child will enjoy this part of the back to school shopping experience. They love picking out their lunch box, so give them some room to express their personality.

A backpack is a sure way for your child to show off their character. Give them some flexibility, but keep in mind that the backpack should be lightweight with two wide, padded shoulder straps. It should also be big enough to hold your child’s supplies and books, have a padded back, and contain multiple compartments.

Plan Your Back To School Shopping Adventure by marking websites you plan to shop on or schedule the day you are going to the mall or discount stores. Some states offer a ‘tax-free weekend’ near the start of school, so check your local newspaper for dates. To see which states are participating in the US, click here.

Online shopping is great for back to school shopping such as supplies. I prefer to touch, try on, and purchase clothing and shoes from a store. My child is finicky when it comes to certain materials (she is very tactile and the garment must feel just right).

If there are certain items that your child needs, but not in the immediate future, you can put them on a shopping list for later. Such items may include a jacket, winter coat, boots, and winter accessories. No need to break the bank on things you will not use until later in the year.

Back to school shopping can be fun and economical with the right amount of planning (and spending). Focus on the positive experiences for your child and who knows with the quantity of money you save, you may be able to take a wonderful family vacation on spring break!



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