Getting Back to School Done for Less

It may be a few weeks until the start of the new school year, but frugal and financially savvy families are planning now to save money on what has become an annual dream season for retailers.  Today's CNN Money section features an article on the Back to School Price Wars and states:

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), back-to-school is the second-most important selling period for retailers after the fourth-quarter holiday period.  The NRF estimates that families with school-age children are expected to spend an average of about $564 this year on new computers, clothes, shoes and other items, a healthy 6.9 percent increase from last year. Total back-to-school sales are forecast to rise 4.5 percent to $18.4 billion.

Here are a few tips for saving money this back to school season:

>Shop early – Start now for the best bargains of the season

>Shop online – Some great bargains can be found through online retailers, but you need to plan ahead to allow for shipping time

>Shop around – One stop shopping may not afford the best bargains.  Check retailers web sites and Sunday inserts for your best bets.

>Don't Shop – Many of last year's supplies are still functional.  Those rulers, protractors, compasses and pencil sharpeners should still work fine! You can save money by reusing items that are only gently worn.

>Shop According the the Calendar – Some states offer "tax holidays" where items related to back to school can be purchased tax free during certain weeks.

Home-work for Today:

>Obtain your children's back to school supply list and start planning now for clothing and school supply purchases.  Waiting until the last minute increases stress and decreases your flexibility in being able to shop for the best values.   

>In GTD terms, create a working project entitled "Back to School" and brainstorm all of the next actions that need to be taken to complete the project of sending your children off to school fully prepared to learn and thrive.

Reading Room Resources:
Blog posts related to family finances

50 Frugal Blogs

Beat Debt in Bursts

How to Pick an Accountant for your Online Business


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at

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  • Guest

    Hi Lisa,

    Even before your blog post, I had taken out David's uniforms today and had him try them on to see what I needed to buy for this year! Yes, school time is just around the corner!