It's my absolute favorite time of the year? Yes I am that mom from the Staples commercial (not really), but in spirit.
I love, love, love school supplies! I could easily go overboard spending on supplies each year, but I don't and you don't have to either.
Shopping for back to school isn't meant the "break the bank". Unless, of course, you listen to all the television commercials and sales ads. The ones that say your child needs a whole new wardrobe, new backpack, lunchbox, folders, and more every school year.
Start off by creating a budget and be sure to add in for unexpected fees (planners, magazine fees, etc.). Include school supplies, clothes, shoes, and anything else your school requires. Then go through the list and assign a dollar amount to each item. If you don't know how much it costs - then estimate it (over estimate it actually).
Yes, I know this post is called Back to School Shopping on a Budget, but the whole point is to make your money stretch as far as possible. It's not always about finding the cheapest price, because sometimes the cheapest priced item doesn't last very long. So here's how to buy the things your children need for school without having to replace them over and over again throughout the year.
One thing I really want to stress is purchase quality products. Believe me we went the other way for a while and it didn't work out well. Last year we purchased a good, quality backpack for each of my kids and they are able to use them again this year. The same with their lunchboxes and a couple folders.
Plastic pocket folders instead of regular pocket folders can last for years without a rip unlike the regular folders that rip in a couple months.
To start the school year off right I purchase a new outfit or two for each child. Notice I said outfit not wardrobe. I also purchase new shoes because most of the summer they wear flip flops and they usually have outgrown their old ones. Again these should be a good quality, but not necessarily expensive.
I try to replace my children's clothes as they outgrow them. For example, if my son has a growth spurt and shoots up 2" causing all his jeans to be too short, I buy a couple pairs. I don't recommend buying a lot in advance because you can't predict how your kid will grow.
Stock Up on Sale Prices
However, while things are on sale I try to stock up on the basics such as pencils, paper, erasers, pens, glue sticks, etc. The stuff that gets used up throughout the year and that costs more later.
Once you set a budget, then find the best quality merchandise you can find for that price.