Thank you JCPenney for sponsoring this post. Visit JCPenney in-store or online to shop the new fashionable picks at an affordable price!
$1000 feels like a lot.
But, here are a few things to note:
- I have 3 kids. Not one, not the average two, THREE.
- One is a fully grown teenager (meaning all man shoes and clothing).
- One has the feet of a man (even though he can still fit youth sized clothing).
- I usually have to buy them a pair of athletic shoes at this time for whatever sport they are playing in addition to regular school shoes (we bought a pair of football cleats and a pair of basketball cleats for this fall)
- This includes all accessories (underwear, socks, belts, backpacks).
- And also, school supplies and fees (they middle and high schooler have a ton of classes that charge fees).
- If you math it out, that means I spend about $333 per kid.
Okay, now that we have that covered, let’s talk about how we make that $333 stretch because it’s time to go back to school!
Ok, not quite, at least not for us.
For the first time in our history of going back to school, The Dudes don’t have to head back into the classroom until after Labor Day.
We are so happy to be able to enjoy August without the looming threat of the first day of school upon us.
Regardless, because of the way my money is set up, we still start our school shopping well in advance of the big day –filling in their wardrobes, taking advantage of sales and tax free shopping days, finding appropriate shoes for all of their different classroom and athletic needs.
Starting early means we can really figure out how to save on back to school shopping, and it allows us to get a great selection of the things they really want and need.
We always start online, because let’s face it, these Dudes do NOT enjoy shopping, in fact, without a clever mix of bribery and threats they’d never agree to a trip to the mall.
It has come to the point, however, where I can’t always just eyeball them and know what to buy.
I swear that every time we go to the store Dudes 2 and 3 have gained an entire shoe size! Plus, they are, gasp, getting style preferences!
No more mom just picking out random short sets and calling it a day.
JCPenny sent us a couple of gift cards to check out some of their hot, new back to school trends and, instead of just throwing a bunch of things in my online shopping cart, I decided to haul the three of them into the store so we could really get some well-fitting things they’d be happy to wear.
They only agreed with smiles because I swore they could choose whatever they wanted and we wouldn’t go to any other store (aside from Auntie Anne’s for cinnamon pretzel bites) but JCPenny.
Total win-win because they didn’t moan and I knew we’d be able to get what we needed without spending hours trekking from store to store with a group of surly teens and tweenagers in tow. JCPenny is really one of the only locations where I can shop for all three of my kids at once. They have suitable options for my two who still fit youth sizes, as well as for my teen who is well into menswear. They have a variety of styles to match each of their preferences, reasonable prices that allow me to stretch our budget to cover all three Dudes, and accessories they need, like shoes, backpacks, and under garments, for a comfortable, stylish school year.
JCPenny is basically a one stop shop for all of your back-to-school needs –which means we can get in and out before anyone has a please-make-shopping-end meltdown.
Instead, we were in and out in about an hour, no one got punched in the neck (seriously, watch the video, they even left SMILING), and everyone went home with outfits they will wear without threats or bribery this school year.
For the teen: A casual denim button up shirt with dark jeans.
For the tween: He’s all about that athleisure life so no surprise that he chose a pair of versatile, khaki joggers that he can pair with a tee for a casual look, or with a sweater or polo for something a little more dressed up.
For the kid: He is my perpetual athlete which means he requires comfort with movement at all times. I love that we found some fun Nike athletic wear that is also suitable for the classroom.
This shopping trip put a $150 dent in our $1000 back to school budget.
Here’s how we plan to make the rest work for us.
Money Saving Back to School Shopping Tips for Bigger Families
Because all of my kids are boys, we get to enjoy that shame free hand me down life. To make sure we don’t overbuy, before heading to the store each school year, we go through what we already have on hand –checking for holes and excessive wear, donating things that no longer fit anyone, and eliminating things they may not like. Once we have that situated, we are ready to make a school shopping list.
Go easy on the school supplies.
We snag those school supply lists like everyone else, but we don’t run out and just buy it all. Some items (like the individual folders) we know we need to have, but other items (like 50 million glue sticks) feel a little like overkill. We also like to wait a bit with the older kids to see what they will really need when they get into the class (sometimes 5 3-ring binders aren’t actually necessary). We also don’t have a problem ripping out the first few pages of a barely used composition book or rounding up the colored pencils and sharpening those bad boys to get another year out of them. We don’t skip on the class donations though (tissues, dry erase pens, hand sanitizer, Ziploc baggies) -that stuff goes to the teachers.
Make a list.
And a budget. Then stick to it. We budget $1000, we almost always come in a bit under it and we never go over.
Shop Tax Free
Our state has tax free shopping week and I always make it a point to do our school shopping that weak to at least take advantage of the sales tax savings. It may not seem like much, but that 6% can really add up when you have to buy 3-6 pairs of shoes (they usually need school shoes and cleats or basketball shoes). Find out when your state’s tax free shopping day is so you can plan ahead too.
Ebates, a cash back shopping site, allows you to earn cash back when you shop through their site at select retailers. We shop online a ton so it’s a great way to enjoy a little money back in your account from things you have to buy anyway. Added awesome, if you do your school shopping at JCPenny through Ebates you can get 3% cash back!
Looking for more back to school tips? How about some lunch packing ideas: Back-to-School Lunch Ideas.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.