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August 07, 2017

Spend here, cut there. A Back-to-School Savings Strategy for Every Mom

When August hits, my “back-to-school prep work” shifts into high gear. Out come the lists: new school supplies, shirts, pants, jeans, socks, underwear, etc. (Seriously, how do these things disappear?) This year I’m looking to make a major investment for my boys: lunchboxes. Yes, you read that correctly, a lunchbox for each.

Since my boys take their lunch to school every day, having a reliable lunchbox is important. (I try to be environmentally conscious, so packing a brown bag every day filled with Ziploc bags is not ideal.) I’ve been looking at metal bento lunchboxes for quite some time. At around $60 each, they’re more expensive than your average lunchbox. But when you break down the price by cost per use, you realize they’re a reasonable investment.

$60 (lunchbox cost) divided by 180 (days in school) = .33 cents per use

The cost per use goes down significantly, obviously, if you’re able to use the lunchbox for a second school year. I decided the high sticker price was worth it, and then set out to determine ways to offset the cost of this large ticket item.

One way to get back-to-school ready is by shopping at Goodwill and taking advantage of its great prices. Also, I always consider whether or not my kids really need new clothes. They’re boys, after all, and care much more about which superhero book bag they have and the shoes to match than they do about new clothing. So, I look through all their clothes and decide which ones are still “school presentable.”

I keep in mind that both boys have birthdays later on in the school year (March and June), and they usually get clothes for gifts. I hold on to those pieces for the following school year. We even keep clothes from Easter Baskets on the hangers until the following school year, when they are really needed.


Clothes received for Easter ready for the new school year.


These are just a few ways to cut corners on certain back-to-school purchases so you can make room in your wallet for the major, necessary items. What strategies do you use to make school shopping more affordable?