Money-Saving Mom Moves


School starts here in just a few weeks.

Never mind that Target and Wal-Mart erected their school supply displays on the day after Fourth of July.

“Mommy, is summer over?” my 7-year-old asked as we strolled by the cases of new pencils, pens and binders on JULY 5th.

For weeks, I’ve resisted going near those aisles. I’m dreading having to dig deep to purchase all new supplies, plus uniforms, shoes, and the 17,000 other accessories that students need to tackle a new academic year.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to snap out of my denial phase pretty soon.

Sure, my kid needs new school supplies; however, this year I am planning to recycle as many of her old items as possible.

That’s not to say that I will be sending my child to school with a backpack riddled with holes or chewed up pencils sans erasers; rather, my plan is to be prudent and frugal.

For example, my soon-to-be third grader has a perfectly good soft, plastic, insulated Scooby-Doo lunch bag which she used rather sparingly last year. There’s no reason why she can’t use the same bag again this year. Only, Scooby-Doo is soooo 2011, mom, and now she wants one from Old Navy that features a Terrier and some squiggly lines.

I put the kibosh on the new lunch bag.

However, Grandma put the kibosh on my kibosh and now my kid has two lunch bags.

I won’t expound on that transaction, except to say that I was more determined than ever to put lunch bag number one to good use.

Instead of toting turkey sandwiches, Fruit Roll-Ups and chocolate milk to and from school, Scooby-Doo is now housing emergency supplies in our car.

If you have an extra lunch bag or box sitting around the house, put it to good use by creating an emergency car kit or a first-aid kit. Fill it with Kleenex, Band-Aids, Wet Ones, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray, Neosporin, extra socks, tweezers, extra batteries (for a car flashlight), a little cash and a bottle of water.

Another option is to recycle the lunch bag and make it into an activity container for your kids to take on the road. Use it to store crayons, chalk, mini pads of paper, magnets and other small toys. If you have a metal lunch box, consider sanding down the exterior image and using it to store and play with magnetic doll sets. Finally, insulated lunch bags that have a few small holes or stains in it can be cut down and made into beverage sleeves for coffee cups or soda cans. I’ve even seen some people slice sections from insulated lunch bags and secure them around pipes when the space was too tight for expanded foam.

What other ways can you think of to reuse insulated lunch bags?

Related Articles:

Back-to-School Reminders

Back-to-School Supplies: It’s All About the Bag

Back-to-School Shopping Tips

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.