Disclosure: I participated in a back to school campaign with Mami of Multiples. I was provided compensation to purchase back to school items and for writing this post. All opinions are mine alone. #MomBTS
I have been a busy bee the past couple of weeks. Between work, vacations, planning for an end of summer party and back to school shopping, I am spent. Shopping for back to school supplies and clothing used to really stress me out but now with four kids going into either middle school or upper level elementary grades, I have become an expert on stress-free back to school shopping!
Tip #1: Gather all documentation ahead of time. School starts here in South Florida on August 24th. I do not wait until teachers hand out supply lists, I make sure I get them a couple weeks before, whether on the school website or by calling the school. If you cannot get a list from your child's teacher ahead of time, look up a grade-specific list online and start purchasing the basics (pencils, crayons, paper, etc.
Tip #2: Make a master list and a budget. I put together all four lists into one major list. Instead of four lists mentioning the need for 2 boxes of pencils, I put 8 boxes of pencils on my list. I take one list to the stores. I also set a budget and stick to it.
Tip #3: Enlist an assistant. There is no reason to go back to school shopping on your own. That's boring! I call my friends and we make a fun outing out of it. If my friends are unavailable, I take one (yes ONE!) of my kids with me. I ask them and the one that volunteers first goes. It gives me some one on one time with that child and I'm not shopping alone!
Tip #4: Take advantage of back to school sales, discounts and tax-free holidays. Tax-free week in Florida is August 7-15 and I make sure to do my shopping that week. I gather my list and store ads and see what's on sale where. I make a plan on which stores to go to and at what times. I use coupons and check for any BOGO's (buy one get one offers). I even shop online, if possible. Think this is crazy? Well how about I tell you that I purchased all the basic supplies for four kids for less than $70! Also, buy in bulk if you are buying the same items for multiple kids. Every classroom requested disinfecting wipes and tissue. I purchase those in bulk and just separate per class. With a little research, you can save alot of money!
Tip #5: Stick to your budget. Stores do understand that back to school shopping can get expensive. They have amazing sales at this time to help families out. After years of back to school shopping, I know to make a budget and stick to it. I start saving, little by little, since the beginning of the year. This money is only for back to school shopping (supplies, shoes, uniforms). I usually come in under budget and use the little extra for a special dinner out as a family before school starts!
Do you have any tips and tricks for stress-free back to school shopping that you'd like to share?