back to school

15 Back to School Money Saving Tips

Growing up my mom used to say that August was the most expensive month besides Christmas. Back to school shopping can be expensive.  However, there are ways to be purposeful with your shopping that will save your wallet big time and your sanity too!  I have rounded up my 15 best back to school money saving tips for today’s post because who doesn’t love to save money?


15 Back to School Money Saving Tips

1 – Buy high-quality & Reuse.

We love Pottery Barn and Herschel for backpacks.  Did you know you can wash your backpack in the washing machine?  Empty the backpack inside and out, spot treat with a stain treater and then place on a gentle, cold cycle in the washer.  Hang dry!  We had my son’s backpack for 5 years and the only reason we replaced it was because he needed a bigger bag!  

We love Lands End and North Face for winter gear.  Last year, I went cheap and I ended up spending what I would have on one coat on two and both were broke by the end of the year.  I usually get 2 years and can pass it on with a higher quality coat.  

Buy gender neutral boot and snow pants so you can pass them down to other children.  Grey, navy or black show less dirt and are great for both girls or boys!

2 – Take inventory of your closet first. 

Check out your kids’ closets and make a list of what your kids actually need for the upcoming season and next year so you can stay focused and save money while shopping.  Your kids might not need new shoes, don’t buy them if they don’t need them!

3 – Shop sales.  

Most sites like Pottery Barn and Lands End have sales.  Don’t pay full price, they will have a sale.  Temporarily join the store’s email list or check their website often.  Generally, they have sales over the weekends so check back on Friday!

4- Always buy a size up!  

When shopping for winter gear, I always size up.  If my kid is currently wearing a size 2 shoe, I buy a size 3.  If they are currently a size 10 shirt, I buy a size 12 coat.  Lands End coats have built-in sleeve extenders that help you maximize the life of your coat.

5 – Avoid personalization and monograms.  

It’s easy to resell or pass on if it’s not personalized.  It’s also safer to not have your child’s name printed on their backpack.

6 – Shop ahead for next season.  

Take advantage of the end of season sales and stock up for next season.  The steepest discounts happen at the end of the season both at major retailers and consignments stores.

7 – Take advantage of tax-free weekend.  

Most states offer a tax-free weekend on school supplies and apparel right before school starts.  In Iowa, ours is the first full weekend in August!  

8 – Use Coupons & Price-matching.

Before you buy, scan the item to make sure you are getting the best deal.  Sites like Amazon have a barcode reader and will pull up the item.  If it’s cheaper, take that to the store’s register and ask for a price match.  If they can’t do it at the register, they should be able to at customer service.  Most stores will honor their competitor’s coupons.  It’s always worth asking!

9 – Inventory school supplies before shopping.   

What items are still in working condition?  Use what you have first.  Cross it off the list so you don’t accidentally buy it again.  If that white binder looks a little beat-up from last year, scrub it clean with a Mr. eraser and it will be good as new.  Wash the pencil box with a little soap and water and it will be sparkly clean.

Stock up during sales on school supplies for the year or for your kids’ classroom!

10 – Shop discount stores & Consignment Stores.   

Places like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s are a great place to get name brand clothing for less.  Consignment stores are another great place to shop.  Take your old clothes in to consign and use the money you earned to buy this year’s wardrobe.

11 – Make a list and stick to it.

This seems simple enough but how often do you throw something extra in?  All those extras add up!

12 – Before you shop, make a game plan.  

When making your list, write down the store names and under each store write the item you are going to purchase there.  Check the weekly ads for the best deals to know what to get where! Remember, the more places you shop, the more likely you are going to find extras (or is that just me?) so be purposeful about sticking to your list!

13 – Do not wait until the last minute.  

Take it from me, I did that my first year and it was a nightmare.  The plastic primary colored pocket folders I needed were sold out so I paid way more.  Shop early!

14 – Shop online and use pick-up options.  

Walmart and Target both offer it and it’s a great way to stay on budget and not get sidetracked by the awesome items, not on your list.  Target will even populate your school list online and you can pick up!  How cool is that?

15 – Make a budget and keep track of what you spend.  

Sometimes, it’s more cost-effective to buy the school supply pack from the school.  This year, we used what we had and then purchased about $50 worth of school supplies for two kids which is less than what I would have paid for the supplies.


What back to school money saving tips do you have?  It can be an expensive time of year but it can totally be done on a budget.  It’s hard to believe school is almost back in session, summer sure has flown by in a hurry!  Our supply shopping is done so now we will celebrate with sleeping in and spending our days at the pool!  Below, I am sharing a few of our favorite back to school essentials!

Check Out These Other Back to School Resources…

Best Back to School Books for Kids

Best Back to School Tips so You Are Ready to Go

5 Ways to Beat the Back to School Jitters

Establish an After School Routine

Create A School Supply Drawer



Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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15 ways to save money on school supplies

How to Declutter Your Child’s School Papers

**Thank you to Amanda from Jasper & Willow for guest-posting today**

Before you get started on organizing kid’s school papers you need to clear the clutter first. And whoa mama can there be a lot of paper clutter! Learn how to declutter kid’s school papers the easy way by asking yourself these 3 simple questions.

As Summer approaches your home is probably drowning in papers from your child’s school. You already receive a ton of artwork and forms throughout the year.

Somehow, the last month of school seems to involve a whirlwind of paper and events.

All those papers can be really overwhelming. And, leave you feeling like you simply don’t know where to start.

You can also become paralyzed with the thought of throwing away the wrong item, and not get rid of anything. Right?

But, you desperately want to declutter your child’s school papers. And know that you need to get started.

Let’s tackle that overwhelm right now, and make decluttering easy. With these 3 simple questions to declutter your child’s school papers.

How to get started decluttering kid’s papers

Before you get started on decluttering your child’s papers, you will need a few tools.

  • Trashbag or box

For any papers that can be trashed or recycled. Think multiples of a drawing, forms that are no longer needed, or monthly calendars for school.

  • Put Away box

You do not need anything fancy for your Put Away box. This is simply a box or basket to store the papers in that will be filed later when you organize your child’s papers.

  • Fun tunes

Life is always better with an impromptu dance party. So boogie down while decluttering. I promise it makes it way more fun!

How do you decide what papers to keep?

Now that you have everything you need to get started decluttering. Let’s move on to which papers to keep.

  • Necessary Forms

Sometimes you need to run a copy of a birth certificate or another important document to your child’s school. If for any reason you happened to forget and left it out, be sure to hang onto it.

  • Sentimental Items

Sentimental items can be a really tough area to declutter. Especially when it comes to our children’s artwork, journals, and letters.

I will absolutely leave this one up to you. But I think it is fair to say that any items or ornaments with handprints and footprints are pretty sentimental. And, of course, special letters and journal entries should be kept as well.

I do encourage you to be realistic with this area of decluttering though. And, get really clear on what actually needs to be kept.

Questions to ask when decluttering kid’s school papers

The easiest way to get those school papers decluttered once and for all is by asking yourself 3 simple questions.

  • Is there more than one?

You know the drill. Several of the same flower, truck, or house drawing. Sticker sheets that pretty much all look the same. Or, maybe it is several programs form a child’s performance.

You simply do not need every single copy of every single thing. You may not even need one of that paper either. 😉

An easy way to get papers decluttered fast is to eliminate extras.

  • Could you get it again?

When looking at your child’s school papers. Decide if you could get them again if you needed it.

This will be more in line with forms, immunization records, and report cards.

The truth is you probably don’t need to be holding onto all of those items. And, if you did get rid of them you can probably get copies of those items again.

Let me share an example.

My in-laws recently moved. And that meant some boxes, filled with items from my husband’s childhood, were headed our way.

One of the boxes was filled with school papers. And a big chunk of those papers was a massive stack of report cards. I bet you can guess where those report cards are now. Spoiler alert: In the shredder.

Now, I cannot possibly imagine any scenario in which we would need those report cards again. But, I bet we could get them if we did.

And, I feel confident you could definitely get copies of your children’s too. It may take a phone call or email, but wouldn’t you rather deal with that than a mountain of paper?

  • What is the worst thing that could happen?

It can be really tough decluttering your child’s artwork and other sentimental items from the school. You can feel stuck, and really unclear on if it is okay to let something go.

A great question to ask yourself if you are feeling stuck is: what is the worst that could happen?

Dig deep with this one.

Because the truth is, probably nothing. Tossing out a hand drawn picture of your home, or a form where they traced their name will not cause your world to crash.

So, breathe through it. And get really clear on what to keep. Because eliminating all that paper clutter is really freeing, and I do not want you to be weighed down.

Pro Tip: Take pictures of your child’s artwork, and create a collage photo book. This way you have a nice book filled with all of your child’s artwork from the school year. Instead of a ton of papers.

Wrap Up

You now know how to declutter your child’s papers, and are feeling less overwhelmed by the whole process. And are clear on what questions to ask to get you started, or if you are feeling stuck.

You totally got this mama. I am right behind you cheering you on each step of the way!

If you are looking for another great project to get things organized before the Summer break. Be sure to check out how to get all of those outdoor toys organized with this simple garage toy organization set up.



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You might also like –
How to Organize School Papers
DIY Closet Toy Organization
Garage Toy Organization
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At Home School Supplies Organization – A Homework Drawer

Ready or not, back to school time is upon us!  Homework often accompanies school so I thought I would share a simple change I made that has made all the difference with homework! We affectionately refer to it as the homework drawer.  The homework drawer houses all the necessities my kids need to complete homework besides brain power and desire!

We have established a nice little routine to come in the door, stow away backpacks, unpack lunch boxes and take care of any homework.  Since we established the homework drawer, they don’t have to waste any time looking for a pencil or other tool and can get the job done so they can move on with the rest of the day!

We had a skinny kitchen drawer adjacent to our island and dining table that was just collecting junk so it was a logical choice and would better serve to stow homework supplies.  I picked up a few drawer organizing baskets (here and here) and collected all the supplies they tend to need, had the kids sharpen the pencils in our electric pencil sharpener and now it’s ready to go for all those afternoon homework sessions!

 Drawer Before Organization 🙂

I grabbed all the school supply essentials my kids needed so they would be handy and then sorted them into logical categories and placed them in these plastic baskets.  I found mine at Dollar Tree but you can find some similar ones here.

homework drawer full of office supplies

Our Homework Drawer Contains –


Coin Money Assortment

Measuring Tape

Manual Pencil Sharpener

Glue Sticks

Pencils (We use those special ones they get from school & parties)




Brush (for before school last-minute hair brushing)


The rest of our art supplies like crayons, markers and colored pencils are housed in the art cart (read more about the art cart here) located in our pantry right next to our kitchen!

Ready or not, another school year is coming soon!  It’s always bittersweet waving goodbye to summer but it’s so fun to watch our kids grow and learn all year long.  Here’s to another great school year and more organized and efficient homework sessions with a simple addition of a homework drawer.  How are your preparing and organizing for the back to school season?


More Back to School Reads —
12 Back to School Picture Books to Read to your Kids
Best Ways to Beat the Back to School Jitters
10 Back to School Essentials
15 Money Saving Tips for Back to School Shopping
DSM Register Guest Feature — 20 Back to School Savings Tips from Moms Who Blog
Creating an Art Cart

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with Andrea and Becky – check out their blogs for more fun!

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Best Back to School Books to Read

Calm Nerves Reading Back to School Books

Back to school time is around the corner.  We are all anticipating the start of another school year and with that comes both enthusiasm and a few nerves at what the year will hold. Today I am sharing 12 back to school books that are favorites around here and will enable you to start a conversation with your kids about what school is like and what they can expect.
 As you read, start a conversation with them and ask them what they are excited about, what they want to see when you go to back to school night and what they might be nervous about. Most of the nerves around here are reserved for momma ;).  A great way to start a conversation with your kids about school is to read books about going back to school.

Best Back to School Books

Do you have a case of the worries?  Wemberly does!
Grab your tissue as you read this sweet book about feeling your love with a kiss kept in the palm of your child’s hand.
This is a great book as he explores all the different places in a school.
Follows the theme of The  Night Before Christmas.  It makes a cute read the night before your child goes to Kindergarten.  We plan to read it at our house!
This book has a cute twist, you might not see coming!
A sweet tale about loving the name you have been given and the special person you are.
Wishing you a great start back to school.  You might find the posts below helpful as you prepare for going back to school!

Check out these Back to School Posts – 

Ways to Beat the Back to School Jitters
The Ultimate Guide to Going Back to School for the 1st Time
10 Back to School Essentials
back to school picture book Pinterest pin graphic

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Best Back to School Tips So You Are Ready


It’s Time To Head Back to School

We are in the final countdown around here!  I am not going to lie that that music is now running through my head…It’s time to head back to school.

Get Excited, It’s Contagious

If you are like me you feel the need to do all things, prepare, plan and still squeeze every last ounce of summer fun out that you can!  I am sharing all the back to school essentials that you will need.  You will feel prepared for the first day and more importantly get you excited.  Enthusiasm is contagious so the more excited you are, the more excited your kids will be.  

Prepare Backpacks & Buy Supplies

Every kid needs a backpack.  When I went to school I had the most darling Esprit tote, anyone else?  We invested in Pottery Barn Kids backpacks for our kids.  I wasn’t sure it was worth the money but both our kids have used theirs for YEARS.  

Before the start of the school year,  I just spot treat the backpacks with spot treater and then wash on a gentle cycle in the washing machine and hang dry.  They look brand new for another year of use.  

A fun way to give new life to a backpack is adding new accessories like hand sanitizer or a key chain.  It’s a fun way to make it new without spending as much.

Don’t wait to the last minute to buy supplies because it will be picked over.  The best time to shop is in July!  I know it’s early but the aisles won’t be as crowded and you will have the pick of the supplies.  Better yet, order your kid’s supplies from the school if they offer it!

Once you have your supplies, sharpen the pencils and place all the supplies in your child’s backpack so nothing gets lost and it’s ready to go!

Make A Shopping List of Needed Clothes


Take an hour with each of your kids to go through their closets and drawers to assess what still fits, what needs to be donated and what they need for the upcoming season.

I don’t always buy new clothes right when school begins because they might grow before they need winter items but I keep the list on my phone so when I see a good deal or something they might like I can remember exactly what they need.  

3.  Shoes

Most schools require kids to wear tennis shoes for gym class.  Before I go out and buy new shoes, I always go through my kid’s shoe bin to determine what they really need.  IMy kids wear tennis shoes every day to school. 


My kids generally take hot lunch about once a week or 4-5 times a month.  They each circle in a colored marker which days they want hot lunch.  Then the rest of the month they take a cold lunch.  

If we are really organized, we prepare sandwiches and baggies of fruit and veggies over the weekend so that we can grab and go the night before to make lunches.  

Generally in my kids lunch boxes, they take a side (goldfish, pretzels, crackers), a fruit (grapes, strawberries, fruit leather, applesauce, apple slices), a veggie (carrots, celery), a sandwich or protein (cheese/meat, peanut butter), and a dessert (granola bar, trail mix or a cookie).  

I sometimes send them with a thermos with macaroni and cheese, pizza rolls or leftovers that can be reheated.  Then, I just pack them a water bottle as well.

Ease the Jitters

If you are like me, maybe you have the jitters or maybe your kids do too.  Here are two great blog posts to help you.   Jitters are natural but they don’t have to steal the excitement of the moment!

You might like to read Overcoming those Back to School Jitters and Guide for Parents Going Back to School for the First Time.



We love to take first day of school photos, wear a special first day of school outfit and walk to school as a family.  Then I always ask my kids if there is a special afternoon snack they want and what they would like for their dinner that evening.  Chances are it will include chocolate chip cookies and walking tacos but I haven’t officially asked yet.  The tradition doesn’t have to be fancy but those traditions make those moments feel less scary!

Re-Establish Routines

Re-establishing normal routines after a long summer of relaxation is important.  We start to establish a bedtime routine at least a week before school.  Those first few weeks are exhausting so having a bedtime routine pre-established is super helpful. 

 It might be helpful to lay out clothes the night before so they know what they are wearing the next morning and prepare lunches the night before so they simply have to pop them in their backpacks.  

We also review our after-school routine. You can read more about that here.

Create a Homework Drawer

Create a dedicated space for sharpened pencils, erasers and some essential school supplies that your kids and you can easily access during homework time.  Invest in an electric pencil sharpener for those back to school pencil sharpening needs as well as those daily homework sessions.  You will thank me!  Read all about our homework drawer here.

Communicate and Plan

As you go back to school, you also go back to kid and family weekly activities. It’s important to sit down with your spouse and kids and talk through what the week is going to look like and who is responsible to get who where.  

It might also help to have a meal plan and groceries ready so that you don’t have to think about what to make those first few nights back.  Read more about how to meal plan here.

We found it helpful to have a family calendar and command center inside our pantry for important school papers and other things so that we can all easily what is going on.  

Give Yourself Grace in the Transition

Remember of all, grace.  The first year my son went to school, I pictured him coming home from school, us enjoying a snack and a lovely conversation about his day.  That didn’t happen.  He was tired and was ready for a little time to decompress alone.  It worked best for him to have some iPad time and a snack for about 30 minutes and then he was ready to talk and play outside.  You know your child and your family best, give yourself grace as you transition.

You might also like –

Best Back to School Money Saving Tips


Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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5 Ways To Beat The Back To School Jitters

Today, Amanda who blogs over at Jasper and Willow is guest posting.   Amanda is an amazing wife, mom friend, and blogger.  She always has fun, inspiring and encouraging posts to share with her readers.  Amanda has some great tips for how to help with back to school anxiety!
Can you believe that Summer break is almost over, and we will be sending those kiddos back to school in just a few short weeks? If you are like me, then you are SO ready. 😉
For some children going back to school can cause some jitters. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can calm those kiddos nerves, and get them super excited about going back to school!

1. Get the kiddos involved.

Allow your child to take the lead when picking out their backpack, lunchbox, and other school supplies.
My son has SO much fun doing this! Yes, I may need to ‘guide’ him in his choices, but the final decision is ultimately his.
Plus, it is super fun to watch their excitement grow and see the look on their faces when they find THE backpack! 🙂

2. Create a Calendar

Having a calendar that the kiddos can help with is SO much fun! We love our chalkboard decal calendar.
Having a large calendar is great for the kiddos to be able to visualize the count down to school starting.
You can also add any upcoming school event, or special dates and birthdays, which really helps add to the excitement!
We love these fun chalk pens to be able to make it super colorful!

3. Make play dates with classmates

Making play dates with future classmates is a great way to calm those back to school jitters.
We love to have playdates all Summer, but I really try to focus on at least one or two a week in the first few weeks before school starts.
If your child is feeling nervous about starting school, this helps with being able to remind them of the friends that they will be able to see at school.

4. Talk about what they can expect

This is such a great way to engage your child about the upcoming school year.
You can talk about what they think they will do and learn, or what they are most looking forward to with starting school. It can also be great to go over examples of what you think they might do daily.
We talk about this A LOT right before school starts, and I think it really helps to prepare them.
We also ‘practice’ some school activities and expectations over the Summer, so that they aren’t too overwhelmed by the upcoming routines.

5. Remember to breathe

Mama, the kids starting school can be SO tough. It is such a bittersweet thing to love all that your child is learning and experiencing, and still want time to just freeze.
Try to take some time for yourself to really take it all in, and breathe! This is a pretty major milestone, and it’s okay to be feeling the jitters too!

Just Remember…

I hope these tips help lead you and your family to lots of fun and excitement about the upcoming school year! And remember…you SO got this mama!
Thank you, Amanda, for your amazing tips for how to help with back to school anxiety!  Be sure to check out her blog for more awesome content!
Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!
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