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How to save money on Back-to-School shopping by opting out

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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to save money on Back-to-School shopping by opting out

Every year around this time, my email inbox, TV and newspaper will be flooded with Back-to-School ads promising "$X OFF" a purchase or "SALE SALE SALE". I will read blog posts about the high cost of buying all the school supplies kids need for school. I've already seen one whose school-supply list includes FIVE dozen packs of pencils for the school year, and another whose teacher requests brand names only.

In a few months, I'll overhear someone talking about early peer pressure setting in among six year olds who want to look "cool" by wearing certain (expensive) brands. I've been told, more than once, that third grade (Belly's grade) is particularly tough on girls who are expected to dress a "certain way".

If anyone were to ask me how I survive this time of year without bucking to societal pressures or cringing at the high cost of Crayola crayons and Gap jeans (are they even cool anymore?), I have a simple answer:

I don't send 'em to school.

OK. . .simple? Maybe not entirely. And, those who know me are aware of my slight problem with overspending on shiny new books.

But, homeschooling can be done with just this world-wide-web thingy, the library and a trip to the dollar store. And, or course, a big bottle of wine stashed in the fridge for really tough days.

When pencils get short in our school, we sharpen them and keep going. Our crayons include those no-brand waxy ones you get at restaurants. If we run out of glue in the middle of a project, the kids learn to make do. . .or use tape.

And, I certainly don't need to run out now and restock our supplies as if from scratch or buy new wardrobes for the kids.

So, say what you will about homeschooling. We may be weird, but we aren't out buying five dozen pencils.


Yes, this was a sponsored post. It was written as part of a blog blast for Parent Bloggers Network who is working with Capital One (@teachingmoney on twitter) to help them facilitate conversations about teaching your kids about money.

For our participation, one random blogger will win a Kindle and a $150 VISA gift card and two others will receive a $150 VISA gift card. If it's me, I'm not spending it on school supplies.

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Anonymous Mir said...

Bwahahahahaha. I love the idea of homeschooling being an economic choice. ;)

My daughter's school switched to uniforms this year and I must say, it ROCKS MY SOCKS. Rather, it totally cured the "gotta have the cool clothes" blues, and also opened the door to stepping up her responsibilities -- she has a limited assortment of uniform clothes and is responsible for laundering them herself. Heaven!

As for the school supplies thing... well... I do quite a bit of shopping AFTER school starts, to pick up stuff on sale for the following year, and I also make sure I send the teachers notes early on to let them know I'd be happy to come volunteer whenever they need me. Most teachers are happier for the help than the pencils. ;)

8:53 AM  
Blogger said...

I might have to post for that, too!

I was JUST thinking about how much money I didn't spend on supplies this year! Though I did stock up on paper (at 5 cents for a pad, you kind of HAVE to, right?) and some family members went a bit crazy on folders (we only needed 2 or 3 EACH, not 2 or 3 of each COLOR, but they'll keep.). And even when my kids went to public school, I never bought them new school clothes. They didn't care or even ask, so why should I have started the tradition??

I am off to read that post about name brands. Oy. I can't wait to comment on that one.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Lindsay Jean said...

Still, there's something lovely about back-to-school supplies. From "You've Got Mail" - I would buy you a bouquet of sharpened pencils!

10:36 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

So true!

2:57 PM  
Blogger Melani said...

I don't buy the school supplies, my X-husband does! I like your thoughts and ideas on your home school supplies....I have entertained the thought of homeschooling...but for now it is great that my 16 and 14 year olds get to go to school and leave me here with the 4 and 2 yr old.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kids back to school clothes amount to a few new pairs of pajamas.

Starting in junior high my brother and I would hang around late on the last day of school and go through the lockers. We'd load up on the supplies abandoned by our classmates (especially the richies): reams of virgin-white loose leaf paper, binders (but never the cool Trapper-Keeper brand) glue sticks in mostly pristine condition, fistfuls of pens and pencils, and so on. My mother beamed with pride at our frugal cleverness.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Nadine said...

Hahaha! Hadn't thought of that one yet :)

3:31 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

De-lurking to say that I've been seriously considering homeschooling my kids. You've got me leaning even farther towards homeschooling than I already was! Now to get hubby on-board, too...

5:05 PM  
Blogger SabrinaT said...

Here we have the burden of both worlds. (or is it the best).. My oldest will be taking Japanese 1, and the list of things this kid needs is CRAZY!

Here in Japan the kids get 30 days a year off. When they return they are required to all have the school uniform. It is the same across the entire country. The color of the hat changes for the younger grades. The uniform new runs about 20,000 or $200. They are also required to ALL carry the exact same back pack. Last time I looked at one in cost 25,000 yen. That is roughly $250 bucks. They carry it from K - graduation. It seems to work for Japan...

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Wendi said...

Well put.

My school supply money will be spent on champagne and Kleenex since I'll now be home alone for the first time in 7 years.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

I'm pretty certain that five packs of pencils would last me the rest of my life.

Oh, I'm not sure I'm ready to send the little man to kindergarden. Instead we're just going to enjoy one more year at his fabulous preschool where the teachers "hooray!" when we bring in our just-picked strawberries to share.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Since the weather is still summer like here, I buy very little in the way of Back to School outfits, but I also have a daughter who is more into "comfort over fashion."
M on the other hand, loves all things clothing, fashion, accessories etc. Thank Goodness she is only going into K!

8:51 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Home schooling = me too! I am super excited to begin kindergarten next Monday, teaching my precious baby boy! And, yeah, I suppose I could have ignored those back to school sale, but a pack of crayons for a quarter!?!? I only bought 8 packs....

6:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah @ Ordinary Days said...

Amen on every point! This is our first year homeschooling and I am loving that I didn't have to go out one night and spend hours and nearly $100 per kid on Clorox wipes, Fiskar scissors and Jumbo pencils (which inevitably lead me to 6 different stores to just friggin' find).
Not getting sucked into the back to school shopping is definitely one of the great perks of home schooling. :)

11:31 AM  

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