As summer winds down, I’m already in mama-mode of getting the kids ready to go back to school. We’ve had so many fun adventures this summer— from family road trips to local outings—but you know when you’re on vacation, and you start to get the bug to go back home? That’s what going back to school is like in our household. Is it even possible to be “summered out”?! We’re starting to think it may be!

I think one of the biggest misconceptions so many other parents and I have is that back-to-school time is a money drainer! I mean, just think about it: new clothes, school supplies, lunch boxes, accessories for after-school activities…the list goes on! It’s like the start of the school year has become another holiday with shopping craziness.

But now, with all four kids in school, I’d like to think that I’ve become a seasoned pro for budgeting like a boss and ensuring my kids are totally prepared for their new school year! Here are my no-fail tips for back-to-school budgeting like a pro.

About 56.6 million students will attend elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States. Of that total, 50.8 million students will attend public schools and 5.8 million students will attend private schools.

kids runningsiblings walking through school

Set a Budget

You can’t budget like a boss if you don’t have a budget to work with! It seems obvious, but even I have become a victim to not setting a budget and then over-buying (and over-paying) on stuff we didn’t need. Then when you see that final total?! I’m stressed just thinking about it.

Set a limit on how much you plan to spend and factor in clothes, supplies, and other items. Be sure to get your kids involved in your planning session to make sure that you’re not missing any of the must-have items, and even include an extra item or two they’d like if the budget permits. Keyword: if.

boy dancing with backpack boy sitting on skateboard

Shop Smarter, Not Harder

Oh, discounts. I love you. I’m not a hoarder in any aspect of my life except when it comes time for shopping. Whether it’s groceries, clothes, or in this case, school supplies, I’m all about stocking up on coupons and discounts for optimum savings.

The bonus is that this time of year is chock-full of sales, so you can save on all fronts. Stores like Target and Walmart often create special savings to take part in during the month of August!

School buses have been around since 1915, but the official color of bright yellow wasn’t adopted until 1939.

mom shoppingmother and child

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is a huge lifesaver here with four kids. Consider buying bulk for items like snacks, cereals, granola bars, and other non-perishable lunch items. But beyond that, buy large quantities of everyday items like hand wipes, tissues, Ziploc bags, or to-go containers for easy lunch-packing on those crazy mornings.

Check out all my back-to-school tips on the City Girl Gone Mom Pinterest board!

kids school lunchsiblings sitting at lunch table

Skip the Cafeteria Line and Pack Lunch

And while we’re on the lunch topic: pack lunches at home! School food adds up, my friends. Plus, this is a great way to bond with your kids. Create an assembly line to make sandwiches or let them pick their snacks so that they feel like they’re part of the process. And so that they actually eat their lunch and no food goes to waste!

The average yellow pencil could draw a line 70 miles long!

kids at schoolboy sitting at table

Assess and Reuse What You Have

Those folders they only used for one class? That book cover they barely touched? Reuse, reuse, reuse! Although it’s easy to get sidetracked by all things shiny and new, I end up saving a good portion just from looking at what we already have and seeing what we can use again. Lunchboxes can last a while, along with pencil cases and backpacks. If anything, create a fun craft day to give old supplies a fresh new look.

Have you listened to my podcast? Check out The Mom Confidential!

Typically summer vacation in Australia lasts approximately six weeks, usually from December to late January.

funny school quotesiblings together at school


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