Back To School On A Budget

When I leave for work in the morning I can tell fall is on the way. A few short weeks ago it was light out at 5:45, now it’s dark, and there is a chill in the air that reminds me the seasons are changing. Although I don’t really need the weather or lack of morning light to tell me, all I have to do is walk in any store and be bombarded with the back to school displays.

The first school year that I was divorced was so stressful, where was the money going to come from? Hailey was only ten and at that age they outgrow everything so quickly, the school clothes from the year before didn’t fit and her summer clothes had seen enough play time that they weren’t acceptable.

I made a list of all the things she needed and then divided that list into things that could be found second hand and things that we had to buy new. Socks, shoes and underwear were on the new list, along with pencils, pens and notebooks. Then I scoured sale ads every week looking for the best prices on everything. Office Depot and Target, I found, have some of the best prices on school supplies. The second list I had the most fun with, what could we get second hand. I bought one new outfit for the first day of school, that was always a tradition when I was growing up. My mother was single for a lot of my childhood but we always had one new outfit to start the school year. The rest of the stuff came from thrift stores. It’s amazing what you can find that is still in really good shape, most kids out grow their clothes before they out wear them so you can get some really nice things for very little. Hailey has always been a jeans and t-shirt girl so that made shopping even easier.

You can also go crazy with backpacks from thrift stores, it may take a while to find one in good enough shape to get your child through the school year but once you do, grab it quick. When you get it home, let you child personalize it anyway they want, stickers, permanent markers, iron on patches, scraps of fabric tied to the straps, anything they can imagine you can usually do with things around the house. They will have a one of a kind backpack and you will both have fun fixing it up together.

Also, don’t forget, all schools have free or reduced lunches for those who qualify and many now have before and after school programs to help single moms with childcare. Your childs school is a resource, talk to the secretary, the prinicpal, the teacher and find what help is available for you.