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Tag Archive: 2011 Back-To-School Deals

5 Tips for Back-to-School Clothes Shopping on a Budget

Guest post by Elise Adams from

Without question the Adams Family is on the super-tight end of the financial spectrum these days. As I write on my blog every week, we’re on three different government assistance programs and my husband is very under-employed as we head into the Fall.

So while we wrestle with side-gig ideas and re-educating ourselves, we still have toddlers growing like weeds and one little girl in particular headed to Kindergarten, here are my top five tips for back-to-school clothes shopping on a squeaky budget:

1. Start Early.

I’ve been stocking up on uniforms and other hard-to-find items since last Spring. But it’s not too late to start now.

Whatever you do, don’t wait till the day before school starts. The later you wait, the more you’ll be tempted to just grab whatever you see out of desperation!

2. Make a list and a budget.

These could be two tips, but in my household they are inseparable! When I know I’m only going to have $10 each month for clothes it makes me tighten up list to a short and sweet one.

3. Don’t discount yard sales, Freecycle, and secondhand stores.

I am not buying even one new clothing item for my kids this year. The only items I am purchasing new this year are socks, tights, and underwear. Other than that, I’m finding better quality for better prices at my local Goodwill or consignment shops.

4. Accept hand-me-downs gracefully.

Because we’ve been consciously poor ever since my kids were babies, they are excited by these generous gifts from friends or strangers alike. If you aren’t practiced at being upfront and honest with your neighbors and friends about your financial picture, start today! You’ll be surprised at how many folks from every level of financial security are happy to trade, barter, or just plain give away great stuff. (It’s cool these days to recycle!)

5. Place school clothes in a separate area.

This will help you see your progress over the next few weeks. Don’t panic if you don’t have a full school-year of clothes bought/purchased by the time the school-year begins. All our children need is a few outfits to get going that first week of school and you can continue to add to this over the first few weeks/months of this next school year.

Bonus Guilt-free Tip

Lastly, whether a simple lifestyle is old hat to your family or brand new, try to remember that the purpose of clothing is to keep ourselves warm or cool–and not in the popular sense. Sometimes I wish for the simplicity of my Grandma’s day when one good pair of shoes was all one hoped for every year when school started. Let’s remember that our children are rich in experiences, energy, and enthusiasm no matter what they wear to school this year!


Elise Adams is an author, motivational speaker, and radio personality who is determined to help everyone she meets ‘survive, thrive and get on with their lives’.  She blogs over at where she openly and candidly attacks the tough topics of addiction, chaos, and homelessness from a personal recovery perspective. Her latest project is a Free Video Class she calls ‘How to survive ANY crisis without Losing your Sanity’. Elise, her husband and three toddlers (three other kids live with their other parents–can you say ‘blended family’?) live in the Pacific Northwest.

photo credit

Today’s Office Max Shopping Trip

2 12″ wooded ruler with metal edge — $0.01 each

2 Schoolio crayons, 24 pack — $0.01 each

2 Dixon #2 pencils, 10 pack — $0.10 each

4 Schoolio composition books, 100 sheets — $0.50 each

Total with tax: $2.40

Back-to-School Teacher Kits

Ashley shared this great idea for a creative use for some of the Back-to-School Deals many of us have been picking up:

I love new school supplies just as much as the next person. This time of year I find myself stocking up on what seems like an endless supply of pens, tape, and post-its.

However, I was able to pick up so many great deals that I had more than I needed. So I decided to put together “Back-to-School” kits for the teachers at my son’s school along with a note wishing them well for the up coming school year.

In each bag I included:
3 10-packs of BIC pens
1 2-pack of Black Sharpie markers
1 Scotch Magic Tape
3 packs of Post-It Notes

Everything was free after coupons! I attached a note to each bag that read, “Wishing You A Wonderful School Year!” -Ashley

Frugal Organization for Your School Supply Stockpile

Guest post by Danielle Bradbury

It’s that time of year again — back-to-school sales have started! The two questions I used to struggle with the most during this time were, “How much of what do I need to restock?” and “How am I going to keep it organized?”

The first question is obviously going to differ according to your family size and your method of schooling. However, my solution to keeping my school supply stockpile organized also helps me determine how much of each item I need to restock!

Think “Inside” the Box

My biggest organization “helper” is also extremely affordable — the $1 plastic shoeboxes from Walmart! I have a cheap bookcase that we bought over six years ago filled with those shoeboxes. I write a one- to two-word descriptions of what will be in each box on index cards (pens, pencils, highlighters, paint brushes, etc.) and tape it to the inside of the box’s small end. Then I stack them all up on the bookcase in alphabetical order.

I reserve the top shelf for computer paper, construction paper, file folders, envelopes, and my children’s individual crayon boxes. The second shelf holds Play-Dough and various homeschool games. Since the boxes don’t fill the entire width of the bookcase shelf, coloring books and notebooks can be slide upright into the extra space.

Not only does it keep almost all of our school supplies together, organized, and put away from little hands, it’s also very easy to take an inventory with this system!

An Inventory Checklist Prevents Overbuying and Underbuying

To start, I print out an Inventory Checklist that I created in Word. Then, I simply open each box, take note of how much of the specific supply I have left, how much I would like to stock up on, and what my “max capacity” is for that item. I also take inventory of my various paper supplies and make notes for them as well.

During back-to-school season I keep that Inventory Checklist in my purse. That way if I just happen upon a great deal, I know how much I can safely buy for my family’s personal stockpile, and how much I would need to buy in order to fill boxes for Operation Christmas Child. It eliminates the guesswork as well as the chance of overbuying or underbuying!

When I first started setting up this system, I only purchased two boxes each week (my husband is paid weekly). Eventually I was able to get rid of all the plastic bags my supplies were hidden in, and store them in a much more organized way.

This System is Frugal and Flexible

The best part of this system isn’t just the frugality, it’s also the flexibility. If you don’t have an available bookcase, perhaps you could clear part of your closet shelf, a pantry shelf, shelves above your laundry area, or maybe even space in a basement or attic! Also, if you need more of a supply then what one box can hold, you simply add in more boxes with the same title.

How do you organize your supplies?

Danielle Bradbury lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, son and two daughters. She and her husband are working hard to rebuild their life after bankruptcy. They are also looking forward to starting homeschool with their son this fall.