Back-to-School Shopping List (How-To)

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It’s that time of year again, when the aisles of Target fill with spiral notebooks, pencil cases and the latest trendy clothes to mark the start of a new school year. It can be a stressful (and expensive) time for parents and kids so we’ve put together this simple method for creating your back-to-school shopping list and knocking it out in the most cost-effective way. Check out these 7 easy steps: 

Step 1

Gather all the lists from your children’s teachers (don’t forget about any clothing requirements such as uniforms or required gym clothing) and consolidate into one master list.  

Step 2

Have each child do a closet inventory to identify anything that no longer fits or isn’t their style anymore. They should then make a list of 10-15 items they need for the new year (this should include shoes, bras, accessories, etc). Add this to your master list.  

Step 3

Add other school related items to your master list. Consider the following:  

  • Lunch items such as lunchbox, ice packs, reusable water bottle.  
  • Hygiene items such as masks, hand sanitizer and tissues.  
  • School donations to help supply the classroom (based on teachers requests) 


Step 4

Set a total budget based on your current financial situation. The average American spends approx. $800 on back-to-school expenses. That doesn’t mean you should though! The budget should be determined by how much you can afford without resorting to high interest credit. If possible, set aside a little “fun money” in the budget for things that pop up when you are out shopping.  

Step 5

Review your master list and identify areas where you can take advantage of community resources such as back-to-school fairs (most have supply giveaways), like the Columbus Kidsfest Back-to-School Bash.

Step 6

Comparison shop for more expensive items online before leaving the house. Based on this, identify where you will purchase each item and mark it on your list. Try to cut down on the number of places you go, this will help with impulse buys.  

Step 7

Shop! Stick to your list and your budget. If you know that you have a hard time staying on budget, only take cash and commit to making that budget work.  

Use this helpful outline to create a back-to-school shopping list that will keep you organized and your budget healthy. After shopping, be sure to note areas where you may have overspent or not accounted for so you can be even more prepared next year! Easily track your back-to-school expenses with Apprisen’s Fritter Finder

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