Minimize Back-To-School Shopping And Trade Wasting Money For Family Fun

School is starting up again soon, so that means you have probably been seeing back-to-school sales going on the last few weeks. All the new school supplies and new clothes look appealing and the deals may seem irresistible, but before you go out for your back-to-school shopping, check out the tips below so you don’t end up with back-to-school clutter.


Back-To-School Shopping Tips

*Do these things with the help of your kid(s).*

  1. Inventory the students’ clothes, shoes, and school supplies before you head out shopping. You’ll be less likely to buy that T-shirt if you can glance down at your list and see that your kid already has 15 of them.
  2. After taking inventory of what the student has, make a list of the things they are missing. Be sure to only include things that are needed for school and not things that are wanted.
  3. Clean out the bookbag from last year and throw it in the washing machine if you are able. Your kid can use the same one again or trade bookbags with a sibling or friend.
  4. Tear out used pages in last year’s notebooks and use decorative tape to make the cover look new.
  5. Sharpen pencils you already have and check pens, markers, and highlighters to make sure they are still working. Most households have enough of these that you can completely skip buying new ones for the school year.

If you have normally gone back-to-school shopping with your kids in the past and you plan on a more minimalistic approach this year, expect some complaining. You can reward your kids for taking a minimalist approach by using some of the money you save and letting them pick a fun activity for your family to do together before school starts.

Ideas For Rewards

Plan a picnic at the lake

Go to a drive-in movie

Visit an amusement park


Plan Ahead For Next Year

Think of ways to make the back-to-school season fun without the focus being on shopping. 

  • Make a list of awesome summer activities you want to do before school starts and check them off together.
  • Plan a “packing lunch menu” with your kids so they can help select the food they will bring for lunch.
  • Host an end-of-summer picnic.

What are some things that your household is planning on reusing for school this year? Does your family do anything to make the back-to-school season fun without the focus on buying things?


Published by Suzanne- Happily Decluttered

Hi!! My name is Suzanne and I live in central PA with my husband and three girls. I love camping, gardening, spending time with my family, and decluttering!

14 thoughts on “Minimize Back-To-School Shopping And Trade Wasting Money For Family Fun

  1. Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) – Canada – Hi there! I’m Michelle and I live in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. I am married with two young adult daughters. I’m a big fan of reducing waste, using less plastic, decluttering and simplifying life as much as possible.
    Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) says:

    This is the first year I won’t be sending anyone back to school. Both my girls are in college now. It feels very strange.

    Back to school shopping is out of control. The average North American parent spends $500 per child on back to school items, and much of it is unnecessary. Our girls used their backpacks until they wore out, and we only bought school supplies they needed.

    1. That is a crazy statistic! Last year my daughter picked out a backpack and two dresses to be ready for Kindergarten. This year she needed a lunch box. I can’t imagine spending that much! I’d rather go on vacation.😁

      1. Hilary Tan – I am currently in the process of finding my inner goddess as I search for inner peace, find mental clarity, develop mental toughness, and crush goals. Come join me on this journey so we can live our best lives!
        Hilary Tan says:

        I live in Canada and there is no way that I will be spending $500 on each child. That’s crazy!

        I can get a lunch bag for $3 at Dollarama and they last a long time. Dresses I can buy at Marshall’s which are decent quality for my daughter. What stores are these parents shopping at? I’m curious!

      2. Haha! I think they are buying whole new wardrobes! 🤔

      3. Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) – Canada – Hi there! I’m Michelle and I live in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. I am married with two young adult daughters. I’m a big fan of reducing waste, using less plastic, decluttering and simplifying life as much as possible.
        Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) says:

        I know. There are so many better things you could do with that money.

  2. Hilary Tan – I am currently in the process of finding my inner goddess as I search for inner peace, find mental clarity, develop mental toughness, and crush goals. Come join me on this journey so we can live our best lives!
    Hilary Tan says:

    I agree with all of your points except #4. Notebooks are fairly inexpensive. Even the 5-star notebooks, although a bit pricier often have dividers in them and last a very long time. At most I needed 2 in a school year and used my own allowance ($5 per notebook). Personally I can’t see myself ripping out unused pages and adding decorative tape to the cover – much rather buy a new book. If I am am really strapped for cash, my go-to store to save money is Dollarama! (And Walmart!) 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Notebooks are cheap but I have found that half-used notebooks often end up thrown out or stashed somewhere in the house (ahhh…clutter😁). Even though they are cheap to replace, I like to use up what I have. Decorating the front is just an optional idea to make it feel new.

      1. Hilary Tan – I am currently in the process of finding my inner goddess as I search for inner peace, find mental clarity, develop mental toughness, and crush goals. Come join me on this journey so we can live our best lives!
        Hilary Tan says:

        I always used up my notebooks before buying new ones. If subjects overlapped I would use the divider things in the notebook to separate the sections. Physics and math often ended up in the same book 😂

        Stickers for decorating is a good idea! Everything is better with stickers 🙂

  3. You are so smart, and your kids are lucky to have you as their mom, Suzanne! No kids here, but I do keep a list of fun things to share with my significant other, who can occupy his whole world with work unless I step in and make a better suggestion! Thanks for sharing this great post! 🌞

    1. Thanks, Lisa. You are to kind! I love that you keep a list of fun things.

  4. Amorina Rose – Australia – Lover of books and writing, and appreciative of all the arts. On a discovery mission to find beautiful things and they are everywhere
    Amorina Rose says:

    I have known too many people who would rather new than take time to review. its such a shame because your tips save money and are fun.

    1. I’m glad you think my ideas are fun too! 😁

  5. deepanilamani – Brisbane – I have Dedicated myself for Pure Service. I am in Good Health and have Received The Gift of Healing. My Path is about My Journey in becoming Well. "Sharing My Knowledge and Experiences" with others and also to, "Give Faith and Hope" for Them to be able to Lead a Life of "Good Health, Happiness and Prosperity".
    deepanilamani says:

    Greetings from Brisbane Australia. Thank you for all the useful tips .Useful for all those going to school. Different countries have different ways of expense and needs. My two boys are adults and no more school runs for me. I have two grand daughters. With the current issues, there is a lot of I net studies going on also. How the world has and is changing. Many Blessings coming your way <3 <3 <3

    1. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!

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