minimalism · Personal Finance

Back to school shopping

As much as I have been trying to ignore the upcoming start of the school year, it is almost here. A new school year often means the dreaded back-to-school shopping. If you are a parent, chances are you have experienced the dazed wandering through your local Target, Walmart or another office supply store in search of random objects that may or may not exist outside of a teacher’s imagination. My worse memory is from a few years back when I was instructed to find a non-poisonous indoor plant for my daughter’s pre-school classroom. Don’t want the kids eating a plant and getting sick. Unfortunately, none of the garden stores I went to could tell me if any of there indoor plants were not poisonous if eaten! I think I ended up buying a herb of some sort.

This year, I am refusing to shell out a lot of money. Luckily (or unluckily), my kids’ school has a pretty short list of items for the kids this year. For both, they are required to have a backpack (duh), lunchbox, earbuds which they end up losing midyear and a water bottle. My daughter has additional items including a binder, pencil case and index cards. I say unluckily is because they charge a supply fee of $65-70 per kid. I am hoping they are finding the best deal on pencils and paper they can get, but who knows. I guess it does save me time and gas not having to get a million items.

I inventoried the kids items from last year to see if there is anything we could reuse. My daughter’s backpack, yes. I ran it through the gentle cycle of my washing machine twice since the white in the zebra pattern is pretty unforgiving when it comes to stains and normal wear and tear. The internet did not fail me and it looks almost as good as new. My son’s backpack was placed in the trash a month ago for being a potential bio-hazard. I shopped online and got a toddler backpack for $11.98 total price with free shipping. Since my first grader is the size of a four year old, a cheaper toddler backpack will do him just fine. I also have leftover index cards from last year. We will use those until they run out. Both kids have water bottles and lunchboxes that are in decent condition. I did get my daughter a new binder and pencil case (about $6.00 total).

The earbuds had to be brought. Not sure what happened to the several pairs I purchased last year, but they are gone. The cheapest I could find at Target were on sale for $7.99. Using my 5% discount for having a Target debit card, I figured it was probably an okay deal. After loading my items into my car, I reviewed my receipt as I typically do. Always review your receipts, people! I was surprised to see that one of the headphones rang up as $11.99! Oh heck no. I had a 30 second debate with myself wondering if it was worth the $4 to go back and correct it. Hell yeah it was worth it. Of course, the customer service line was full of people trying exchange/return items. One mom actually said out loud, “This is the slowest Target ever!” After what seemed like forever, I was able to get my $4 back.

And I’m done! Well, not really. There is the small matter of clothes. This year, instead of buying new outfits, I am going to wait to see if they actually need anything. My son doesn’t grow at the same rate as other boys his age, so he’s actually been able to wear the same clothes for about 2 years. My daughter somehow has a lot of clothing (“somehow” is code for her mom likes to go shopping and pretend that if she buys clothes for her daughter, it doesn’t count as overspending. Right?) I think I am going to get her one new dress for the first day of school at a used clothing shop. Other than that, she has more than enough!

How’s your back to school shopping going? Do you still have a few more weeks before you have to think about it?

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