Monday, July 19, 2010

Greening up the school year!

This year all my girls will be in school which means I have to buy a ton of school supplies. Not only do you have to buy whats on the schools supply list but also any extra's the teachers will ask for later. Last year I bought what was on the list for my oldest daughter (6th grade) and they ended up not using half of which we bought and wanted us to buy a whole other list of things. It was very frustrating!  So this year I plan on buying what she needs after the first day of school so we wont waste any money.

And lets not forget all the school clothes, shoe's and backpacks they will need. I really do not see the need to buy new items each year for school. Whats the purpose? Are their existing clothes not good enough?  Why do they need new supplies when they didn't use the ones from last year? Have you not seen all the plastic in the school area of the store? I was walking around Target today and started to notice something. Almost 99% of everything in the store was made of some sort of form of plastic. Literally made me sick.

Last year I decided to change this endless plastic and wasteful cycle. I was determined to save money and buy the least amount of plastic I could. With my girls on board we made a plan and we saved a ton of money.  I found that the more I talked to my girls about being earth friendly and recycling, the more they were on board. Instead of "moms just being cheap", it was "Lets do it!".  Maybe we can convince you to try a few of these out.

Lunch Bags-If ours are in working order we reuse them.  Why get a new one if our old ones still work? These are reused until they fall apart. When we do buy a new one, we will replace them with PVC free and sturdy ones. I did find some good fabric cute ones at Target that I almost bought. They are on sale for $9 and well worth it. The inside liner is snap on so if they ever spill anything in it you can take it out and clean it. Its super sturdy, bright and cute, and comes with a matching gel pack to keep their lunch cold. I might just go back and get them. Oh and they are PVC free!

Sandwich and snack bags-I bought fabric reusable bags last year and they are all new looking and working just fine. These will be used again and I spend nothing this year. Whahoo! You can find these at etsyebay or reusablebags for about $3-$6 each. Worth every penny!

Backpacks-These too will be reused. Last year my girls were bought new bags that were sturdy. I saved their bags from over the years and my twins will be using those for kindergarten.  I spent some good money on Gap bags when the older girls were younger and they still look brand new. Again saving myself money!

Clothing-No new clothes this year. How? I'm so glad you asked!

-Luckily I have friends and my sister who give me free clothes all the time. Rarely ever do I actually have to buy any clothing for them. Plus my older girls hand their clothes down to each other. My daughters best friend is bigger than her so she gives all her clothing to her. Everything is handed down and everything is accepted.

-If I do need anything I hit up garage sales/thrift stores all summer long. Just this weekend I picked up a almost brand new pair of Converse (bright orange I might add) for 50 cents!

-Shoe's we sometimes will have to buy them new. Usually we get shoe's from friends or family but every once in a while we will have to buy them new. We will talk to our girls and find out what kind of shoe's they want. Then we research them online or try to get some hook up, and then we will buy them. Lucky my husband works for a huge sports company and has many friends in many places.

-Undergarments are only bought when needed. Luckily my girls do not grow much and I rarely have to buy anything for them. This year I had to buy socks for my oldest because she finally out grew them. Her socks still looked new so they were handed down to her sister. We found some socks she liked in the boys section for $3.99. In the girls section they were twice the price so always look around in different sections. Same goes for clothing.

School Supplies

Like I stated above, last year we decided enough was enough and  didn't buy stuff we didn't need. I just went today to buy school supplies for all 4 of my girls and spend only $20 for four girls supplies.  Yes, you read it correct. And here is how I did it.

Get your school supplies list off your children's school websites.  Do not go by just the generic list you find in the stores. You will be buying things they do not need and wasting your money.

Sit down and discuss with your kids what you have and don't have already. We have turned out kitchen eating area into a art room with all their crafts and supplies. We sat down and went through each item on our supply list and looked for what we needed. We had lots of stuff on the list so why would I go buy more? Can you believe we needed 60 pencils this year for their supply list? And I had them at home! Crazy!  We also have a ton of colored pencils so we just took out 12 colors for each child and sharpened them. DONE!  If you have a child who needs things just for them and they are not shared, you can reuse anything you already have. My twins supplies are shared so we could only reuse things if they were brand new.

If you do need new stuff start looking in your sales flyers. Stores are selling things for super cheap right now. I had to buy "white" glue sticks and guess which ones were most expensive? Yep, white. Ugg!

When your in the store looking for things you need, look for quality. I could of bought my daughter a zipper pouch for only 25 cents but it was PVC plastic. No way! Were on the hunt for a fabric one as I type this. The plastic one will fall apart within a few weeks so a good sturdy fabric one is needed so it can last all year long. If I cannot find one, I will make one. If you buy cheap its going to be cheap. Buy quality!

If you do some or all of what I listed, you will save a ton of money.  It just really gets to me when I see families dropping so much money  on things for school because they think they need brand new things for each school year. What a waste! This life is so disposable and it makes me sad.

And now I ask you. What do you do to save money each school year? Would love to get more tips from you!

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