It’s August in South Florida and that means it’s back to school for the kidoodles. We started school prep early since #2 just left for college. It seems that not including my educational career, I have been organizing and shepherding kids through that first day of school for over 20 years. I’m telling you I’m a pro. I will confess that all that cool gear, pencils, and funky notebooks can be dangerous waters to navigate, but I have learned some key strategies for keeping to that budget.
Sending your kid off with a hug and a Snoopy lunch box are history. Back to school begins mid-summer filling out all that paperwork, gathering medical forms and lining up your carpool. Of course, let me not neglect the dreaded back to school clothing expedition. My youngest is entering high school, and that means no more uniforms. So let me share some info with you peeps on how to save time, money and your beloved sanity.
- Organize. Grab a folder (yes, you can have one with kittens or horses) and corral all that paperwork. Our school is “paperless,” yet a ton of forms still need to be printed and submitted. Keep all that contact info, syllabuses, and the school calendar in there. If it’s all together, you won’t freak when you need it mid year. Of course, I am always ISO the elusive “safe place” where I put the folder. ()
- Budget. Make a list and check it twice. Be transparent with the kids about your budget, so they know how much money is available for them to spend. Involve them in prioritizing needs and wants and now is a great time to teach them the art of compromise. If a pair of expensive jeans is on their list, figure out a way to make them earn the price differential, or to choose something else. I always tell my kids if we are under budget, I’ll split the difference, and they can get the better lunchbox, clothing or computer related junk. Another tip, shop online for clothing and spread it out. There can be new tees mid year, and often there are better deals on the same clothing online. (A good example here is Hollister and Aeropostale.)
- Brown Bag It. School lunch can be expensive, and often, your child doesn’t care for what’s offered. I have a deal with my kids (well, until college, then the meal plan makes sense) that I prepare the main part of their lunch, be it a sandwich, leftover, ramen, etc. and they pack their drinks and snacks. We take a family trip to the market to choose healthy snacks and the not so healthy. Better a couple of cookie than a whole pack) My daughter likes baking, so often we make some homemade snacks that she can enjoy for a few days in her lunchbox. It also lets me see exactly what she is and isn’t eating, so I can fill in the missing nutritional stuff at breakfast and dinner. I do allow her to buy lunch on occasion, and I keep a SchoolBucks account with a few funds. Enough that she can average 1-2 meals per week, yet she often skips these in favor of homemade. No complaints here on the healthy front or the piggy bank.
And so, I like other South Florida moms am in prep mode. Organized, on budget and ready to go. One last tip, keep shopping during the year. Sometimes school supplies go on sale, and there’s no harm in having a little stockpile in your home. Just don’t overdo it- no clutter. Now it’s time to get the kid ready, grab a coffee and get back to real life and sanity. See you after the bell!
Stay motivated and caffeinated! ☕