6 Tips to Save Time and Money Before School Starts

With the end of summer quickly approaching, teachers are planning lessons, school buses are making their rounds, and our kids are preparing for the upcoming school year. No doubt the long lists of school supplies, piles of outgrown clothes, and additional grocery items for lunchbox prep have got you feeling stretched rather thin. To the rescue: our six best tips to help you save time and money as you prepare for back-to-school season.

Take inventory

Save yourself some money by taking stock of what you already have. Have your children try things on. Keep what still fits. Set aside outgrown clothes in good condition that you might be able to resell through a local or online consignment shop (we often recommend thredUp to our clients). Not only will this process free up some space in your child’s wardrobe, it will also help bring in some extra money to offset the cost of new purchases. Make sure to have a paper and pen handy so you can write down the items and sizes you need to buy. For simple, easy tips for organizing the clothes that fit, check out How to organize your children’s seasonal clothing.

Once the clothes are done, take an inventory of your child’s old school supplies. Chances are there are items like notebooks or index cards that your child never ended up using. Cross these items off the school supplies list and set them aside. That way you’re only buying the items that you actually need.

Plan a supply swap

Once you have a sense of what you already have, consider getting together with your friends and neighbors for a supply swap. Perhaps you can trade some of those packages of loose-leaf paper that you bought on sale for the extra packs of pens that have been cluttering your neighbor’s supply drawers? If you invite families with children of different ages, you can also swap books from last year’s required reading list and everyone’s outgrown uniforms. An exchange like this is a fun way to save money and declutter your home.

Shop the sales

After shopping your home and swapping with friends, there is a good chance that you will still need to make a store run for some grade-specific items. Save money by shopping the back-to-school sales and sticking to your list (which will help you resist impulse purchases.) Be sure to look at the sale ads before heading to the store to see where you can score the items on your list for the lowest prices. If you don’t mind driving from one store to another, it might be worth it to visit multiple stores to get the best deals.

Shop secondhand

Another great way to save time and money is to shop an online consignment store. If you have never considered this option, you would be surprised at the variety and quality of clothing you can find.  The prices are great and – bonus – you will be doing your part to keep 26 billion pounds of clothing from clogging up a landfill this year. Again, thredUP is our go-to but there are other sites as well.

Identify items you can skimp on

Consider spending a bit more money on supplies that will be subject to wear and tear every day, like lunch boxes, backpacks, and sneakers. Otherwise, by mid-year you have to take time to find replacements, and then likely end up spending more than you originally planned. However, there are plenty of items that your child may not use on a daily basis that you can get for free. Does your local library have the books that you may need for class? What about laptops, printers, or even calculators? Don’t buy what you can borrow for free.

Plan ahead and save

If you have the space, shop end-of-season sales for clothes your children can wear next year. 

Most retailers are a few months ahead of the weather, so you can often snag cute dresses and or uniform skirts at the end of the summer for a low price. Store these larger sizes in a bin marked “future.” Buying off-season is a great way to save a little extra cash while shopping the styles your child loves!