Amanda Amanda is a married 30-something with three kids. She previously worked full-time as a clinical social worker in a homeless shelter for young mothers. She earned her masters degree while commuting to school and learned to share parenting and conflicting parenting styles with her husband. Now she is learning to manage her career, marriage, kids, and personal time. Amanda is also a writer, a continuously-trying-to-start-again runner, reader, cook, novice pianist, terrible housekeeper, and amateur juggler. She hates laundry. Contact Amanda by emailing

Back to school shopping! Back to school savings! Back to school sale! How to save on back to school!


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Its that time of year! Many kids were already back to school the third week of August but here in Michigan kids don’t go back until after Labor Day (state law, I know, it’s weird). So, I did my shopping late compared to many of you. But, I did take on this topic with a goal of saving money and learning some budgeting tips to share.

Fantastic, but how did I actually save money when I have to spend so much of it? I have three school-aged children. Back to school shopping for three kids easily overwhelms the budget between backpacks, supplies, clothes, haircuts, shoes, and odds and ends. How did I turn back to school budget blowout into back to school savings?

Back to School Savings How To:

  • First, as soon as the back to school sales and items went up I began noting how much everything was costing. I window shopped for a month taking notes and waiting to buy a single item.
  • Second, I only bought exactly what was needed. This sounds easy but if you’re ever walked into Target with the intention of buying one single thing and walked out with a cart full of OH MY GOD I HAVE TO HAVE THATS, you know it’s not quite so simple. Once the supply lists came out I was determined to get only what the teachers were requesting. This involved self control on my part and not letting any whining or pleading from small children get in the way (hint: do most of the shopping without the children. They don’t need to be there to pick out the pencils and markers).
  • Third, I inventoried what my family already had on hand. Now, buying new things for school was always fun, but it’s not necessary or practical for every family. My kids beat the heck out of their backpacks and lunch bags so they needed new ones, and they needed new shoes. But they fit into most of their clothes still and we have so many school and craft supplies at home that I was even able to make up extra supply packs for my kids to donate to their teachers for other students who may not have been able to buy supplies.
  • Finally, I save money through a series of coupons, bottle returns, and sale surfing. I didn’t buy everything in one store, I saved up pop bottles (here in Michigan we get 10 cents a bottle which adds up pretty fast) and I scoured my coupons and PRESTO! Back to school shopping turns into back to school savings.

All in all, we spend right around $150 for all the new school supplies and activities including new haircuts, clothes, and bags. My kids were thrilled with what they got and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for not only having my kids be ready for the new school year, but also being able to donate supplies to their classes.

Next year I plan to use these back to school shopping and back to school savings lessons to save even more money and buy myself something nice as a reward!


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Category: Saving Money

Tags: Amanda