Ready, set…shop! Yes, parents, it’s time for that dreaded summer tradition again--school shopping. If you have multiple children, getting ready for school can be overwhelming--both in terms of cost and time. But organizing you school shopping in advance will save you both time and money.
1. Make a list.
You may already have a list of needed school supplies
from your child’s school, but this list is rarely everything you need for school shopping. Plus if you have multiple children that means multiple lists. Consolidate into one list and add things that the school doesn’t mention, like clothing or items to be used at home. Segment the list by type of item or by where you’ll purchase it.
2. Find last year’s school supplies.
Collect up all the pens, pencils, packs of loose leaf, old notebooks, glue sticks and the like and see what is still good. (Though you might want to get kids a fresh pack items to start the year, this old stuff is good for homework, scrap paper, etc.) Find water bottles, rulers, protractors, calculators, USB drives and other reusable school items that don’t wear out or get used up. Then, try on clothes, shoes and school uniforms. Determine what fits, what doesn’t and what kids’ current sizes are. Run lunchboxes, pencil cases and backpacks through the wash (if washable) to see if they are presentable enough to use again. Mark off your school shopping list any items you plan to reuse.
3. Make a plan.
Now that you have a master list of everything you need for school, figure out where you might get these items at the best price and selection. Some things--like bookbags
, clothes, uniforms
, and lunchboxes
--it might be easier to shop online, while other items (notebooks, pens, paper, glue, etc.) you’ll likely want to pick up at a local store. Browse the Sunday circulars to match which stores have the best deals on what you need.
4. Make a file for school shopping.Keep this master list in a file folder along with the school’s supply lists. Add coupons and circulars, making note of their expiration dates. Also use this file as a place to keep your receipts. (Inevitably something you will purchase is not exactly what the teacher had in mind.) I have actually written the list on a large envelope (8x11 inches or larger) that I used to contain all my coupons, circulars and lists.
5. Start school shopping.
If possible, go on a weekday. If I’m just buying school supplies like notebooks and pencils, I might leave the kids home with dad, but usually their input is need for things like clothing, backpacks
and lunchboxes. Check off items as you purchase them. Be sure you are buying the correct amount. If in doubt as to how many you need, buy extra. Things will likely only go up in price as the school year wears on so buying extras now can save money on school supplies
6. Put away school supplies until school starts.Don’t let kids carry off school supplies to their rooms weeks before school starts. Otherwise, those new crayons may be broken or that new calculator lost on the first day of school. Divide up new school items for each child, and then add the things you are reusing from last year. Bag up the old and the new items for each child, tying off the bags, and then store them in some out of the way place. Pull out the bags a few days before school starts and double check items.
7. Count on doing more school shopping more after school starts.No matter how organized you are before school starts, you will likely have to go back for something. It could be that the school or teacher adds items after school starts. It could be something that was sold out the first time around. It could be something where you bought the wrong item. Don’t stress if this happens. If it’s not needed immediately (and it usually isn’t) wait a few days to see if more items are needed, then go back out and get those last items.