Small Steps to Major Savings: Back-to-school on a budget (& a chance to win $500!)

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Worlds most expensive set of Colored Pencilsphoto © 2009 Heather Franks| more info (via: Wylio)

Believe it or not, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to weigh too heavily on your wallet. Here are just a few tips to get your kids back-to-school on a budget.

Consign it

Take a day or two to clean out the kids’ closets. Go through and collect all those clothes that no longer fit, start your pile for the consignment shop. Keep what you can for your younger kids, of course. Then grab that pile of goodies and get yourself to your nearest kids’ consignment shop. We regularly shop for our kids’ clothes here and often are able to find name-brand clothes that we wouldn’t dream of paying full-price for. Think Gymboree, GapKids and more.

One step at a time

Shoes can be one (two?) of the priciest pieces in your child’s wardrobe. As adorable as all those little sneakers and Mary Janes may be, keep your kids’ kicks simple and neutral and you should be able to get away with just one pair per season. Extra easy here if you have boys. My son has been wearing some variation of a brown sneaker for just about all of his four years.

Wait a week or two

Back-to-school sales have been in full swing for over a month now. Which means sooner, rather than later, all those items are going to go on clearance. Gather up any leftover supplies you may have from last year and see if the kids can make do with those for the first week or two of school. Then hit the clearance sales. Full force. This is especially true in the clothing department.

Make a match with coupons and sales

Remember coupons can be found in unexpected places. Parenting magazines are often good for a Gymboree or Crazy 8 coupon or two. Get on the mailing list (or e-mail list) for your favorite kids’ clothing stores (GapKids, 77Kids, Old Navy, Children’s Place). Have you gathered all those great coupons? Awesome! Now wait. Wait until there’s a sale at your store (GapKids has had some incredible 40% off the entire store days recently). When you see a sale announced (you’re already on their e-mail list, right?) grab those coupons and go. But here’s the other tip. Head straight for those clearance racks first. If you can hit a clearance rack, with an extra 40% off sale AND a coupon? Well, then… you’ve just hit the trifecta of clothes couponing! 😉

Follow your favorites on Facebook

If you’re on Facebook, make sure you’re following your favorite brands for extra special discounts, exclusive coupons and more. At the very least, you should be among the first to see news about upcoming sales. Think not only kids’ clothing, but office supply stores and more.

Gift it

Does your little one have a summer birthday? If friends and family ask for gift suggestions, consider asking for items from your school shopping list. It doesn’t sound like a very fun gift but school supplies canbe memorable. I’m thinking of a certain Michael Jackson Trapper Keeper I received as a gift many (many) moons ago. And carried everywhere with me at the time. Wasn’t I so super dorkycool? This is especially helpful with older kids who might need a graphing calculator (are those still required?), backpack or school clothes.

Invest where it counts

It’s not always about getting the cheapest item. Sometimes the cheapest is cheap for a reason. Invest in quality items where you can, so you can use them year to year. I promise, it’ll still save you money in the long run! If you only “splurge” on one item, make it a high-quality backpack. It’s really the workhorse of the school supply list and, especially as your kids get older and carry more books each day, their backs and shoulders will thank you.

Share your back to school money saving advice below for a chance to win a $500 Back to School Shopping Spree from BlogFrog! 

Want to exchange more tips and ideas with other moms about back to school topics such as healthy snacks, school supplies and saving money?  Visit the Horizon® Healthily Families Back to School Community!  

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Horizon.  The opinions expressed by me do not necessarily reflect the view of the Horizon Organic brand.