Just before school starts, the stores put school supplies on sale at very cheap prices. The kids will usually need most of those sale items at some point. So I purchase the limited number. Sometimes even going back more than once. I fill a tote with these items. And throughout the school year, they can get what they need from the tote. Keeps me from having to run out to make emergency purchases. So I purchase notebook paper at 10 cents a pkg, as many as the limit allows. Folders with/without pockets,and brads. Also 3 and 5 subject spiral notebooks, stock up on these too. Plus colored pencils, crayons, markers, #2 pencils, sharpies, stretchy book covers, erasers, posterboard, Bic pens, all the things that they could possible use.
Also, I buy only one new outfit for going back to school for each child. If you can possibly make them get by with their summer sandals and tennis shoes for the first few weeks of school, you are better off. Sometimes the school system makes changes in the rules of what can and cannot be worn to school this school year. I don't know how many times newly purchased clothing has been pushed to the back of the closet because it is not allowed this year. And if you have teen-aged girls, well, you know that they will want to wear what all the other girls are wearing. In a week or two, you can go purchase the "right" clothes, the "right" shoes and even have the "right" haircuts, and the "right" colors. Think of all the time and money saved by not rushing right into the back-to-school sales.
Then again, when you live in an area (NW Lousiana), clothes for school are uniforms. A girl entering H.S. wants her uniforms from Aeropostle. They had a huge sale at 50% off. This turned out to be the same price for 'average' uniforms from Penney's, so we shopped there. The quality is great and she is happy to be sporting the brand name. You can still bargain hunt and get good deals from the "In" shops.
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