Back to School on a Budget

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I can’t believe it is already this time of year again, before you know it it will be Christmas haha. While I don’t have kids in school anymore I still remember what a struggle it was to get them back to school. So I thought I would share a few things I used to do to get them back to school without breaking the bank.

School Clothes,

This always seemed to be one of my biggest problem areas till I started doing things a little differently.

 I use to buy a lot of clothes to start the year with, well I stopped doing this and started only buying a few outfits ( that were on sale) to start with, then I would buy a few more when everything started going on clearance sale. Don’t be afraid of second-hand stores I have found some really cute things for the girls and once you get them home and washed and pressed no one ever knows that were second-hand. Then buy a few things throughout the year.

They were horrible about going thru the knees in their pants. So I started putting on an iron-on patch on the inside of the pant leg to reinforce the knee,( sometimes I would have to replace the patch where it would start to come undone). Then once they did go thru the knee I would cut them off for shorts or capris depending on where and how bad the holes were (even if it is winter save them for spring and summer).

If you can sew at all make some of their clothes. There are some very easy patterns that even a beginner can make. I even made coats one year.

Hand me downs, let people know that you are interested in hand me downs I got a lot of really nice stuff for the girls from hand me downs, then when I was done with them I would pass them on.

Don’t buy name brands unless it is on a great sale. I have seen people spend a ton of money on name brands and the kids outgrow it in 6 months.

When the girls got older they wanted the high-dollar jeans, I wasn’t about to spend that on jeans so I told them if they wanted them I would pay what I had planned on paying and they would have to come up with the rest.

Also for older girls, homecoming and prom dresses If you sew make them yourself, I made several of the girl’s dresses. Look for secondhand even if you have to do a little work to it. I bought one of Katie’s dresses for I believe ten dollars then we went home added and fixed and it turned out great.  Arrange a swap meet with other girls, everyone brings their old dresses and trade each other.

School Supplies

I hated having to get school supplies. Not because I didn’t want to get what they needed but because they would slap a favorite cartoon character or the latest famous actor and the price would be 4 times higher than the plain ones and before you know it, that isn’t their favorite anymore and they want something new. (We did have our battles when they were younger), I would let them pick their favorite colors or designs but didn’t do the name brand.

Be sure to watch for sales, and try to get a years’ worth. I know it costs a little more to start with but in January when they are out of everything the prices are 3 to 4 times higher than they were at the beginning of school, you will be glad that you did.

When getting stuff check and compare prices.

Reuse some of last year’s things, if the backpacks are still in good condition use them. Throw it in the washer to freshen it up. If the binders and notebooks are still doable use them.

Be sure to label everything so if it gets lost you might have a chance of getting it back.

School Lunches

My girls went to a very small elementary school and the lunches were made right there in the kitchen, and they were good, very seldom did they want to take a lunch, that is until about 5th grade when schools had to redo the way they did the lunches. Then they wanted to take lunch almost every day. So they took lunches clear till high school.

Don’t buy all the individual containers of fruit, chips,etc. Buy a large container and repackage your own.

Make your own fruit roll-ups.

Make your own Lunchables.

Get some separated containers to use to put the lunches in they might cost a little more to start with but you will have them for the whole year.

If mornings are hectic, fix the lunch the evening before or fix everything on Sunday. Fill fruit cups, cut the cheese sticks, cut up the vegetables, put together your own Lunchables,  make up the sandwiches ( don’t put the mayo or mustard on yet, send a little pack that they can put on before they eat, or put between the meat and the cheese), fill chip bags, have everything ready to just grab and go. Have a spot in the fridge to put these things where the kids can fix their own lunches by just picking from the already put together things.


I very seldom bought cereal for breakfast, I just don’t like how much sugar and additives are in it.

It is so tempting to buy all the frozen breakfast foods and prepackaged stuff. Just make your own you can make a large batch of waffles, pancakes, or French toast and freeze them to warm up in the mornings. Make your own oatmeal packs, breakfast bars. You can also precook bacon and sausages to warm up in the mornings. The girls used to love it when I would make sausage biscuits, just a biscuit, sausage, and cheese then I would wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer.

After school snacks

Seemed like they were always starving when they got home from school. This is another thing you can make up ahead. Cookies or fruit bars freeze great, you can cut up a bunch of fruit or vegetables and put them in individual containers, have a bowl of fruit that they can see and get to.

A couple of hints to make mornings easier.

Put together outfits including socks and underwear on Sunday so all they have to do is grab them and get dressed in the mornings.

Have a solid routine at night and a set bedtime. Mornings go a lot smoother if they are not tired.

Have a calendar where everyone can see it. Put appointments, field trips, after-school activities, and whatever else needs to happen.

If you work outside the home try to do freezer meals, pick a day and put together two weeks or a month’s worth of dinners, and have a menu. It is a lot easier to come home and know what you are doing for dinner, you can pull it out in the morning and throw in the crockpot or throw it in the oven when you get home. This way you won’t be so tempted to grab take out which is expensive and not that great for you.

Plan for sports or after-school activates, have homemade snacks, if a game or event runs into supper time tailgate, take your crockpot and eat supper there.

Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Assign different tasks for the kids to do they can feed the pets, pick up the living room, set the table, help clean up after supper, there are a lot of small tasks that kids can do that will help get things done a lot quicker.

Have a great school year, and enjoy it because before you know it they will be done with school and out on their own.

If you have any other ideas please feel free to share them.


One Reply to “Back to School on a Budget”

  1. NRP & Blue

    Rancher’s Wife:
    I really enjoyed this Article for some reason; don’t know, maybe because it brought back memories from years ago, ok ok many MANY years ago HAHAHA…

    Without getting all political and stuff, I wonder how many more Families have joined the “Home Schooling” crowd. I know of a few that have for one reason or another.

    As I read this, I sure did see a lot in there that could also pertain to just everyday life. Especially the not buying the “Name Brand” of things, Levi’s is a perfect example, cheapest I have seen is $60 for a pair of 501, price shop that against a pair of Wrangler’s.

    PS: is there such a thing as a “Easy Morning” HAHAHAHA, even Ole Blue is getting grumpier more and more in the morning, taking after me I guess ??????

    PSS: You’re soooooo correct about time flying by, Folks, enjoy life to its fullest NOW…. For we never know what tomorrow brings.
    Or as a favorite saying goes;
    Cherish Yesterday, with all of your heart.
    Dream of Tomorrow, with all of your Imagination
    Live Life Today, for it is what we Really Have