One thing as a parent that I have complete mixed feelings about every year is shopping for Back to School.
On the one hand I'm exciting because, hello, shopping.
On the other hand I'm dreading it because, well, shopping.
I love buying clothes for my kids. And I love when I can send them off to school looking their best in every way...
But the thought of having to drop my entire life's savings on my kid once a year just to get them everything they are going to need before I send them off to a world where having the coolest pencil box determines his worth, scares me senseless.
And leaves my wallet in pain.
Which leads me to the same question that Moms all over the country (and probably the world) are crying, "Why do clothes and supplies have to be so expensive?"
My answer to that?
You just have to know how to shop smart.
One of the best ways I've found to shop smart during the back to school season is Coupons.
I know, I know. These days when you hear the word coupon you automatically imagine those ladies (and gentlemen) who coupon for 40+ hours a week, go to the store, and are able to get $1,000 worth of groceries for $20.
And, I don't know about you all, but my math skills (and dedication) are sorely lacking when it comes to something like that.
But I have found that coupons can be a wonderful tool for saving money on your shopping bills and I use them weekly.
Coupons.com has become my go to site. They always seem to have just the coupon I need when planning a grocery shopping trip. And right now they are offering some great ones for Back to School; to places like Payless shoes, Kohls, Target.com, JC Penney, Kmart, and many more.
And like the extreme couponers always claim, when you are able to add those coupons onto sales those stores are already having, it makes the savings that much more!
Another great way I've found to shop smart is to check the local gently used clothing stores.
In my opinion, why would I want to go to walmart and spend $15 to $20 on a single pair of blue jeans for my son when I can go to some place like Jammies to Jeans, Goodwill, or any other local gently used children's clothing store and spend $7 to $10? That just makes no sense to me.
I always make stores like this my first stop.
And (here's a little tip from my Momma) try locating the stores that are closer to "high income" neighborhoods. They usually have better kept clothes, name brands, and there really isn't much of a difference in pricing for them.
I've also found that an easy way to shop smart for Back to School is to check your local school district for a school supply fair.
This one can be kind of tricky because most of the time these school supply give aways are for families who fall into a certain income bracket. But occasionally, you'll find one in your area that offers the needed supplies at cost if not for free to all students in that district.
Even if you find you don't qualify for these fairs, it never hurts to check.
And, last but not least, probably the best way I've found to be a Back to School smart shopper is to wait until after you've met with your child's teacher before you buy any supplies for that first day.
Last year, I was a good and prepared mother. I downloaded the school's "Needed Item List" and went shopping for everything I was told to get on that list before I even met with the teacher.
I walked into that meeting all sorts of proud of myself for being on top of it and starting the year off on the right foot. You could almost say I strutted into that meeting; and do you know what the first thing the teacher said to me was? "Don't worry about buying anything from the school's needed list, I'll be providing that for you."
Yep, so I drove an hour to get to the store and dropped who knows how much money on supplies that my child didn't even need.
So, instead of driving all the way back to the store to return EVERYTHING I'd bought, I just donated it to the class.
So please, take it from my experience, don't buy supplies (other than a backpack and lunch box) until you've had that meeting.
You may end up spending money you don't need to spend.
You may end up having to shop with the crazy last-minute moms, but you'll also know you only need 6 items on that list instead of 36.
**Do you have any things you like to do to be a smart Back to School shopper?**