Saving Money on School Supplies and Clothing

Sending a child to school is so expensive! At the beginning of the school year the school sends you a list of things the child will need. Parents rush out with this list, piling their baskets high. Add new clothes to the mix and you are going to shell out a lot of money. And at the end of the year these supplies come home and most of the time, are forgotten.


After raising three children, and retiring, I find myself the mother to an 8 year old. And I have learned to send this little lady to school, and to do it frugally. My daughter is very well dressed and has plenty of top notch supplies. And here are some of the ways I do it:

Yesterday my daughters school year ended and she cleaned out her desk, coming home with her backpack bulging. Time to prepare for next year. I unloaded it and separated things into piles, "reuse next year", "let her use this summer", and "trash." A lot of items the school requests in certain amounts, but the kids end up not using them.

The colors that were mismatched and broken, my daughter can use them this summer. Half used color books and workbooks were placed in the use this summer pile.


The plastic pencil box had color marks on it, but otherwise was in fine shape. A little hot water and a quick rub with a Magic Eraser made it as good as new; it can be reused next year.

My daughter not only had a rather large amount of glue sticks unused, but several that she had used maybe once. Several sticks were pretty well emptied and they went to the trash. A cotton ball saturated with rubbing alcohol took off the excess glue, and her name written on them with Magic Marker. I allowed them to dry, re-wrote her name, and placed them in baggies. This August I won't need to buy them, either.

The same with lead pencils, erasers, and her scissors. Smudges and dried glue wiped off with an alcohol soaked cotton ball. They won't need replacing, either.

My daughter prefers to take her lunch. Her insulated lunch bag was looking pretty rough, but I was amazed at how nice it ended up looking after a rubbing with Fels Naptha soap and a run in the washer. Her sandwich box and large mouth thermos received a good scrubbing, too. They all look new again.


The backpack is pretty ragged, but it will work to carry things with her on little trips this summer.

After all the reusable items were cleaned and packed in a box, it was time to check out the closet. A few months ago I cleaned out her closet and packed her winter clothing away. Now I need to pack some warm weather items. My daughter prefers "skorts" in the early fall and late spring, and since they have an elastic band, and were a bit long on her in the first place, she won't be growing out of them by August. I made sure they were all clean, stain free, had no rips or tears and packed them in a box. Also her nice pullover shirts that will still fit her when school restarts.

Her shoes she will probably outgrow so when she is not running barefooted through the grass this summer, she can wear them. Same with panties, socks, and any clothing that probably she will outgrow.


During the summer I will go to yard sales looking for items she may need when school is ready to start again. I will keep a list in my car. (backpack, shoes, etc.) At a recent sale I picked her up a pair of name brand sneakers, probably only wore once. A trip through the washer, they look new. And they are one size bigger than she is wearing now, so they should be perfect size when school starts again.

When school begins and she heads to school in her neatly ironed outfits, I doubt if anyone will notice they were not purchased a week ago. Most likely they will notice how nice she looks. :-)

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May 24, 20120 found this helpful

These are some great idea! I already use the idea of buying things slightly large so my son can grow into them, but keeping a list is a great idea.


I plan to hit a few garage sales this summer and I can just check things off as I get them!

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May 24, 20120 found this helpful

When you are young parents it takes a long time to figure out that "Schools" have champagne budgets with beer incomes. Waste is number one on my "hate" list.

I don't know what happened, but when I was in grammar school, "They" supplied all of us, at the beginning of the school year with ONE new pencil and handed us paper one sheet at a time. ''They" supplied the reader/ work books, we each had a desk that they were kept in (class size was 28-32 most of the time, once in awhile 36 students). Kids were respectful and those that weren't were sent to the dreaded

" Principal's office". And in most cases there was harsher "punishment" waiting at home. Other supplies, like crayons and glue, work sheets etc. also provided and NOT wasted. Used down to a nub, shared by everyone. Not one student had to carry a backpack to and from school. Kids already suffering with back pain in kindergarten now.


Something terrible has gone wrong with our educational system. Pretty sad when many teachers are afraid to go to work and teach. GG Vi

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May 24, 20120 found this helpful

This is really good advice. Often last years school supplies are lost by the time the new school year starts. Taking care of it now and putting things away will save you from looking for them in a few months, and also save a lot of money. Shopping a thrift shops and garage sales can save hundreds of dollars for the family - and you can, with a little effort, have a very nice wardrobe.

An old friend was very well dressed and stylish - and bought most of her clothes at thrift shops. We are all pinching our pennies now and putting them back in our purses half the time, so this advice is very welcome.

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May 24, 20120 found this helpful

Wonderful advice. My daughter in law never goes shopping for clothes at the beginning of the school year. They live in Houston so summer "play out" clothing is more comfy. They shop for cool time clothes when it starts to cool down some.

I have noticed many families are watching their money more closely now. But the bottom line is... if a garment has been worn a few times it's not new any longer. There are no new outfit police at the schoolhouse door to check the age of garments. I am proud of you for the good example you are setting for this young girl!

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