Stay on Track for Back to School

My school shopping is done and out of the way for both my kids as of last Wednesday. I have updated my Google calendar with all the school dates for 2013 – 2014, scheduled yearly physicals for this week and hit a major deal with 50% off children's clothing at my local thrift store to round out our fall and winter wardrobe. I know, you're probably wondering how I accomplish such a feat. My focus on these goals really paid off and has lessened my stress level where back to school is concerned. I am going to share a few things that made this year a little easier and kept me on track.

Get your school supply list as soon as possible. Check out your local school districts website and see if they have already posted supply lists. While you are there download the school calendar and any forms you may need for enrollment. If those things aren't available call the district office and request them. I have heard that some districts don't give out supply lists until school has already begun. Luckily that is not the case here.

Check your stash and round up school supplies you already have around the house and see if you can check a few things off your list. I was able to check off a fourth of the list with all the new supplies I had bought last year when they went on sale. I found a small basket and rounded them up. Check your kids closets for fall and winter clothes and see how well you are stocked for the coming season. I keep clothing one to two sizes up for each of my kids in a couple bins in their closet. If I find a great deal somewhere that I can't pass up I put those items away for the next season. That way I don't have to rush around each time it gets colder trying to find jackets and warmer clothes.

Create a master list of everything you think you and your kids will need for the coming school year. I noticed we were low on underwear and socks and that my son was in desperate need of new sneakers so I added them to the list. I have decided to have my daughter take her lunch to school as much as possible this year so we needed a new lunch box and reusable containers. I do a lot of second hand shopping for clothing and accessories so I have those needs on a separate list. If I find a great clearance deal I might buy new but that doesn't happen all the time. Jot down things that you typically buy so you can take advantage of back to school sale prices even if you can't get a supply list yet. Don't forget things like printer ink, poster boards, construction paper, etc. They may not be on the school's list but you use them at home throughout the year and these items usually go on sale around this time.

Go online and look for deals. This may not be the case for your community but I have found that shopping at many different stores just to knock a few cents off a glue stick is not a good use of my time or resources. I prefer to do a more one stop shopping approach and my preferred store is Target. I like Target because I can optimize my savings there. I print online coupons and check the online sales circular for the week. As soon as school supplies are featured I gather my coupons and head to the store. Before this last trip I decided to try Target's new discount system called Cartwheel. I was able to select items that I had planned to shop for anyway, print out a list and get up to an additional 20% off. Target's discounts stack up nicely especially if you use the red card or the red debit card like I do. You get 5% off each time you shop when you use it. You can also earn pharmacy rewards and get 5% off coupons in the mail periodically. I was able to save $21.00 by combining all of the discounts that I had. There is more to my Target strategy that I will have to share in a future post.

Another way I look for deals online is with Money Saving Mom. I have been a subscriber to this blog for several years now and it never fails to deliver the best deals around. Each week a list of stores are featured and the best deals are shared so you can save time and energy stretching your family's dollar. I highly recommend you sign up for updates.

Shop during the week and if you can without your kids. I went on a Wednesday afternoon with my kids but grandma tagged along so I had some help. My kids are 6 and 4 so shopping can still be a challenge. There aren't many things on the school supply list for pre-K and 2nd grade that need a preference decision so that isn't an issue yet. We hit all the major places but spent most of our time in the back to school seasonal section. Target's Up and Up brand has been great and offered quite a few deals both online and in the store. I have been pleased with their products so far so I continue to look there first when making purchasing decisions. Otherwise we went name brand when we needed to. Before leaving I made sure to check the different clearance sections around the store in office supplies, boys and girls clothes, shoes and woman’s clothing. That's where I found great deals on boys socks, shoes, and girls underwear.

Take home all your amazing deals and organize them for the first day of school. Label things with a permanent marker where you need to and fill up your backpacks with everything you have checked off your list. Launder your new clothing finds and get them ready for the big day. Preparing ahead of time will make the first day back such a breeze.

Now after all that work I encourage you to put your feet up and enjoy a nice cool drink. You deserve it!

Emily Elliott

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard. Google

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