and kind of proud of it. I calculated Team Testosterone's back to school expenses--according to the National Retail Federation, the national average is $604 per family--I have 3 kids and we spent about $400. Without bargain shopping (I'm lazy and hate to shop--I went to a shoe store and Target and shopped online at Old Navy and Amazon). Without extreme couponing. I checked off every item on the list sent home from school and spent $200 under the national average. How did Green Girl do it?
* Those Lands End backpacks purchased 2 years ago? Holding up just fine. As are the lunch bags/boxes. $0
* Thanks to my anal-retentive scrubbing and storage of outgrown shoes (complete with crumpled newspapers inside to keep the odor/moisture in check), I bought 2 pairs, a spare for Mr. T and a new pair for Mr. B. Mr. B's gym shoes are Mr. T's hand-me-downs and Mr. G has plenty, too. $100
* Old Navy had a sale this summer and I snagged polo shirts for $7.50 and cargo pants for $12.50. Each boy has 5 polos and 4 pairs of pants--have I mentioned how much I love school uniforms? Makes our life easy and pretty cheap to boot. Mr. B picked up a pair of shorts at the school's Family Fun Night--they had tables of donated uniform clothing. Each boy has 1-2 pairs of appropriate shorts and Mr. T's shirts and pants from last year will fit Mr. B fine--a couple new things tossed in, but man, hand-me-downs sure take the edge off the clothing budget. $130
* I clean, sort and store the boys' supplies at the end of each school year--a huge box holds the unused glue sticks, scissors, partially used spiral notebooks, protractor, calculator and so forth. I tear out the "used" notebook pages, dump the crayons (seriously, when you buy the requisite 2 boxes per kid per year, they really add up. ditto for pencils and markers) and markers into a bag and scrub the pencil boxes. I begin this year's school supply shopping from this box. No one needed scissors or pencil boxes. I tossed a variety of crayons in each case, sharpened last year's colored pencils and tested last year's markers. Amazingly, few of these supplies need replenishing. I purchased: 2 rulers (only had one on hand--the parochial school takes measuring seriously--all 3 boys needed one!), supplemental notebooks and folders, glue sticks, erasers, one package of markers, red ballpoint pens, highlighters and a set of watercolors. The boys don't care about their folders and notebooks, so we get the plain color ones, which are also the cheapest to buy. $20
* The school supplies for classrooms really added up. Dry erase markers, reams of printer paper, napkins, tissues, disinfecting wipes, plastic baggies (in all 3 sizes) and hand wipes. I didn't have a surplus of any of these items on hand, but I had a few coupons. Between Target and Amazon.com (dry erase markers--very difficult to track down all the right kinds and I hate to shop so I only tried Target in person) I acquired the necessities for the modern, germ-infested classroom. $80
* Haircuts. Two buzz cuts and a more complicated cut for Mr. T who wants to grow his hair long. $70 (incl. tip)
Not half bad, I'd say. Most of the savings came from Mr. T not requiring many school supplies as a 6th grader (same calculator, same thumb drive, same Spanish/English dictionary, same protractor, compass & ruler) and Mr. G and Mr. B wearing hand-me-down clothes and shoes. Quality always pays off, so the investment in those Lands End backpacks and lunch sacks was totally worth it.
Spill it, reader. Are you above average, average or below average in your school shopping?
More importantly, how would you spend the remaining $200?