Friday, July 27, 2012

School Time Savings

Are you tired of going broke paying for all the school supplies, clothes and shoes? Well so was I. So I stopped the school games and started saving money. Whether you have one child or four like myself you can use these tips and save money. 

Inventory check
I go through all my girls clothes and shoes.  My oldest hands down out grown clothes to my middle daughter. If she fits anything it goes into her closet.  If its too big it goes into a box for later. Same goes with my middle daughter. Everything out grown goes to my twins.  Into the closet or into the box.  Anything not wanted gets donated to a friend or person in need.  This clears their closet for new things for school.
This is a great time to check their school lunch bags, containers and water bottles. Add any of this to the list if you need it. 
I then write down each child's name with their size of tops, jeans and shoes.  I keep this note in my purse for when I am shopping.  Check off what we get along the way.  This way I don't buy things too big or small. 

Put the word out!
Let your friends and family know your on the hunt for clothes for your children.  My sister sometimes gives my twins things that my niece has out grown.  You can post on your Facebook that you need stuff.  Also tell your friends you will take anything they want to throw your way.  But keep in mind to do the same! Let friends/family know when you have stuff to give away.  This is the best tip ever for getting things for free and no money out of your pocket. 

Shopping time!
Instead of going to the store to buy new items I go garage sale shopping. It's another form of recycling! Clothes are already worn in and are 90% less than new clothes.  Shoe's are also a great price! I also keep an eye out for lunch boxes, backpacks and food storage containers that are not plastic.  I try my best to find what I can at great prices.
Another way to save is shop at Goodwill Outlet's.  They sell everything by the pound but you have to dig to find anything.  Nothing is sorted and its best to bring a friend/family member who knows your kids sizes.  Dig like crazy and meet up ever so often to trade clothes you found for each other.  The more you buy the better the price.  And be prepared to stay for a few hours. Trust me its worth it. And don't forget to bring your own bags to bring them home!

Thrift Stores
When I'm having a hard time finding something and there are only a few weeks till school then and only then I will go to a thrift store. They have used clothes with no holes or stains and are sorted in sizes.  But they will be a bit more money but still not as much as retail. 

Retail Stores
Only after I have tried all the above tips will I actually step foot into a retail store. If my girls need under garments I will buy them. But only if they have out grown theirs and need a larger size.  Why buy more when they have them already? School time doesn't mean new clothes people.

I resort to buying online only if I cannot find it local at a good price.  If your not worried about buying local then online is the way to go.  Lots of sales and clearance.  Keep in mind that you still have to pay shipping so take advantage of free shipping if you can. Don't forget you can find things free online too.  freecycle,  craigslist and sometimes even Facebook have free forums for just about everything.

These rules can apply to school supplies too!

School Supplies
Each school will have a list on their website of what each grade needs to bring to school.  Most are shared items for kids in lower grades and will not only be used by your child.  My kids get to bring home stuff at the end of the school year and we just stash those until the first day of school.  I go through all those items with my list of stuff they need.  I then make a list of what they need.  I have yet to have a teacher return any supplies we already had.  Why let those supplies go to waste? Why spend money when you don't have to?

My mother is obsessed with buying school supplies. She has been my whole life. Yep even when I was older and moved out. Now that I have children she likes to buy them things.  So I usually send her a list of what we didn't have at home and still need.  She gets to buy school supplies and we save money. Its a win win situation for me. Thank you mom!

For those who don't have an obsessed mom I would keep an eye out for sale flyer's.  Remember the closer to the first day of sale the better the sales.  Some stores drop their sales on the week before school hoping to cash in so keep that in mind. 

Last but not least don't forget to keep the earth in mind. I keep an eye out for plastic free package, things made with recycled materials, and sturdy items that we can use year after year.  If you invest a little in well made products you will be able to use them for a long time.  Cheaper doesn't mean better! The cheaper items are usually made of some sort of plastic, poorly constructed, or just plain junk! Also remember to buy from local companies (to you) if you can.  Keep your money in your own state is supporting a local family.

Lunch time!
You can easily find fabric snack bags but be ready to pay the price for them.  You can save money by either finding a great sale on them or google instructions on making them yourself.  Keep an eye out for fabric sales! Let's not forget organic fabric!  I also use small mason jars for things like fruit.  Only use those with kids that can be careful when opening them and not drop them.  I will be replacing them with metal ones as soon as I find a good sale on them.  You can pack your own silverware and fabric napkin.  Don't buy paper/plastic disposables! The kids can empty their lunches when they get home and everything can be washed and reused the next day.  We use stainless steel water bottles and fill them with water.  If you pack anything else there is a high possibility of them not getting to the sink and juice/milk will go bad.  I usually pack a sandwich, fruit, crackers/pretzels and then a water bottle. 

One last note
You don't have to buy everything before school.  Let's not forget the after school sales. Retail stores are wanting to get rid of school items and moving onto Thanksgiving/Holiday items.  This is the perfect time to find metal soup containers, fabric sandwich bags, and water bottles.  Maybe you need that important graph calculator? Keep an eye out for that. You can replace things as you go as well.  Out with the plastic containers when you find a metal/glass one.   Just because something says its BPA free doesn't mean it is.  Trust your gut and go with the good stuff.  Maybe try getting one thing out of each check.  This way your not going broke trying to buy everything.  Eventually you will get everything done. 

Oh yeah and don't forget to not stress.  It's not worth it. Really.

Did I forget anything?
Have a tip you want to share?
Leave a comment, share this with your friends/family and lets help each other out.


Thrifty Mom in Boise said...

I think you and I are kindred spirits. I do a lot of these same things. I usually start my kids out with one new outfit and shoes. The rest comes from hand me downs, thrift stores, or I make it on the sewing machine. They always seem to have enough.

I take advantage of the loss leaders when it comes to school supplies. It may take me weeks to accrue everything but I'm fine with that because it saves me a fortune.

Ahola Acres said...

Love your ideas! I didn't know the fabric snack bag idea, as I am trying to not use plastic anymore and always cringed having to buy more! My dear mom was like yours, always a school supply shopper..She would keep us in stock for the whole year! We would laugh because she ALWAYS had a ton of supplies for us!