Back to School Splurges + Spending Tips

– Hey you guys, it’s Dana. And, it’s Tuesday, so it’s
time to talk about money. And, today I wanted to share with you some back to school savings tips, as well as some items that I think it’s really important to splurge on. So, let’s talk about that. All right so, we have four children. Three of them are school aged, and one of them is in preschool. So, the three that are in school we have to do back to school shopping for. However, it’s really important, obviously, I’m gonna say this right at
the top, to have a budget. You have to have a budget every year otherwise you will spend way more than you had hoped to, planned to. If you don’t have a budget,
you don’t have a plan. But, you’re going to spend more
if you don’t have a budget. Have some kind of plan every year for back to school shopping. For supplies, you might be fortunate and have what we have at our school. If we go to the website
1stdayschoolsupplies, I think it’s So, at the end of every year, so in June, we get an email, actually even in May, from the principal, and
they give us a school code. So, we go onto this website,
you type in your school code, and then the exact items that the teacher would like your child to
have are prepared in a kit. And, you can order that
kit and it’s going to be in your child’s classroom on day one, when they get to their class. And so, our school participates in this, and we do take advantage of that. So that, we no longer need
to buy school supplies, which is pens, pencils, notebooks,
folders, all that stuff. And, it might be a little
bit more expensive, but it’s comparable,
maybe we could get better, a little bit less expensive items if we were to shop in the big box stores. But it really takes off the stress. We don’t have to worry about the kids lugging all those supplies
into the classroom. We just purchase this kit, it’s done, and it’s in the class, like I said, and it’s exactly what the
teacher has requested. So, we’re not purchasing
items that the teacher doesn’t want the kids to have, or some… In the past we used to
buy like paper folders, the folders would tear apart,
and actually the folders that the teachers request
are the plastic folders, They hold up better, they last
throughout the school year. And, the teachers really know
what the kids should have. So, I think if you’re
purchasing school supplies in the stores anyway, you should be buying higher quality pencils because they just, they last longer, higher quality
folders because it’s just, I mean, the teachers do
recommend those things. Anyway, so we take advantage of that. But, if you are buying school supplies, then don’t always shop in the big stores, right, the big box stores. You might find a better
deal if you are shopping just in your grocery store perhaps. Sometimes they have lower prices. But, like I said, have
a plan, have a budget, make sure you go off your list, and really follow the teacher’s
list as far as the supplies. I know it’s fun for the
kids to shop with you, but maybe if the kids are with you, you’re gonna buy more impulse items. It might be best to go by
yourself or have your partner go, which is what my husband used to do. And then, he would just, you know, show the kids when he got
home, and they were excited. So, that’s supplies. But, for other items, right, for clothes, back to school clothes. What we do, is we buy
one, just one, one outfit, one new outfit for back to
school for the first day. Just one inexpensive outfit per kid, and that’s it for the
beginning of the school year. Because you’ll get cheaper prices if you wait until September. So, if you can wait until
after school actually begins you’re gonna find a
lot of clothes on sale. If you are shopping in
August, early August, end of July, then a lot
of times the clothes have just come out, you
know, and they’re gonna be at the top, the top price. And so, you wanna, if
you wait ’til September they’re gonna be less expensive. So, I highly suggest waiting on clothes, going through your closets,
trying to find things that the kids still can fit into. Most likely some of the items they’ve been wearing over the summer. The weather’s, you know,
gonna be about the same in the first couple weeks of school. And, they can wear some
of the same clothes. And then, you can take
them shopping in September to buy some new outfits. Now, Pennsylvania doesn’t do this, but some states have a no tax holiday. A lot of them are held in
the beginning of August, it might’ve already passed depending on when you’re watching this video. But, I think, as of right now, this week, when this video goes live,
I think Massachusetts or Connecticut is having
their sales tax holiday. Basically it means that
there’s no sales tax during a weekend or a week. And, this can save you some money. I know they’re popular in
these states that do hold them. But, again, keep in
mind, it’s not gonna be saving you that much money,
it’s four to seven percent. And then, a lot of times,
because of demand being higher in these states, there might
be more people shopping, which brings up the demand, which brings up the prices of items. So, if you are shopping during
these sales tax holidays, just be careful because,
like I said, they might, there might be this sale going on but the prices might’ve been jacked up in anticipation of that sale. So, you wanna make sure
you’re sticking to your list, sticking to your budget, and being smart about the prices and
where you’re shopping. And, it might not be to your advantage to even, to shop during those holidays. But, check ’em out, see
if your state has it. I had never even really heard of it before until recently, because, like I said, we don’t have that in Pennsylvania. If you have to get some
kind of electronic device, all right, this is where
you might be thinking maybe this is the item Dana thinks that we should spend more money on. And, actually don’t. I think that you should purchase refurbished electronic items. When my own personal laptop
pretty much died on me, I purchased a refurbished
laptop for myself. So, I suggest shopping around and getting refurbished phones, or
laptops, or calculators, whatever you have to do for school. If you need an electronic device, look for refurbished products. They can be just as good, and
they can be a lot cheaper. So, I highly suggest looking into that. So, what item do I think
that you should splurge on? And, it is your children’s backpacks. I really think it’s important to spend a little bit more money on a backpack. On a good quality backpack that has lots of different compartments, has a good solid straps
because we have had cheaper backpacks where the straps have broken, frayed, ripped. You know, ’cause a lot
of times kids are just, they’re rough on their backpacks. They’re jamming books in there, or tossing the backpacks around. And, I do think you should
spend a little bit more on the backpacks, higher
quality backpacks. But then, in saying that, our backpacks that we get for our kids, they last, they’ve been three
years, two, three years. Two on the low end,
three, four years maybe. You want your backpack
to last a couple years, and it likely will if
you invest a little bit of money in a better backpack. So, just keep that in mind
when you are ordering it, that it might be something
that they’re gonna be using for a couple years, and
then just let them know that. You know, this’ll be your
backpack for the next two, three years, if it lasts. So, let’s try to pick
one you think you like. Or, if you don’t get any
monogramming on it or anything, you can pass it down to a sibling. We have done that as well. My oldest daughter, she
had an L.L. Bean backpack, and we passed it down
to her little sister, and she does carry it to preschool, and she loves this backpack. So, it’s, you know, you can just kind of recycle it through your family. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. A lot of times the younger
siblings can be really excited to get their older
siblings backpack or item. You just wash it up, clean it up. It can be, if it’s still
in really good shape you can use it again. So, I think trying to spend a little bit more money on that, as well as lunchboxes. We have gone through so many
lunch boxes, it is ridiculous. And yes, the kids can, you know, leave, they have left their lunchboxes
so many times at school. We’ve had to go and physically find them in the lost and found
section, which we have. But, they leave it there,
maybe they misplace it. But, if you don’t have
a good quality lunchbox, again, it’s gonna get funky, it’s gonna, the zipper’s gonna break,
the handle’s gonna, you know, just you wanna
have a good lunchbox that’s gonna last because it’s gonna be really, really hit hard by these kids. All right, so those are some
of my back to school tips. Most important being to wait to buy, don’t be in a huge hurry
to get a lot of stuff. Especially don’t buy before
you have the teacher’s list. And, you wanna try to wait
for clothes if you can. Have a budget, have a plan,
so you don’t overspend. And, that’s it. Try to stay relaxed, and calm, so that you children
will be relaxed and calm. I was just telling my
daughter this morning, she was saying she was
a little bit nervous about going back to school, and I said, everybody is nervous, everybody,
including the teachers. The teachers are nervous,
the kids are nervous, parents are nervous, everybody’s
nervous back to school. And, it can be a nervousness
’cause, you know, you’re excited for them
to go back, whatever. But, it’s still a nervousness,
it’s still a change in your routine, in your schedule. And so, the calmer that
we can be as parents for our children, the better. ‘Cause obviously they
feed off of our energy. And, so that’s it. So, if you have any back
to school savings advice I would love to hear it,
others would love to read it, and it would help the entire community. And, if it’s your first time
here be sure to subscribe. We are a family of six, and we live in the Philadelphia area. I am a full time accountant,
and I do this on the side because I hope to help
inspire you to build well, to get out of debt,
and helps to inspire me on our journey as well. Okay? All right, I’ll talk
to you guys next week. Bye.


  1. I recommend waiting until Open House before purchasing electronic items. My daughter needed a high-end scientific calculator for a math and science class, totaling over $120. We found out that these were available to BORROW in class, thanks to a grant that purchased them for the school. She checked the calculator out like a library book on nights that she had homework, and sometimes even "buddied up" with a classmate to share the calculator after school.
    Ultimately, she was able to borrow a separate calculator from a friend who had completed the class and returned it at the end of the semester.

  2. Thank you for the tips, I usually in September I start my school sinking fund. And your right my kids recicle the book bags and that save us some money.

  3. Great tips! I agree a quality backpack is important and the good ones last forever! I bought my daughter one going into 2nd grade and she used it until high school. It didn’t even need replacing, but she felt silly having the same one so many years later. She uses it for overnight trips now instead. I’ll have to look into that school supply kit company your school uses. Our school did one last year and it ended up kind of a disaster. . .

  4. I live in CT and it is our tax free week this week. This year I noticed there are some sales but overall no coupons. Agree fully with waiting on fall clothes until mid September. LL Bean backpacks are the best, NorthFace for older kids. When my son was in elementary school, I’d buy pants on line via LL Bean in bulk-multi colors. A little pricier but the pants would last the year and clean up well. A good pair of sneakers is something I wouldn’t skimp on either. Five star notebooks are great to pick up on sale throughout the year; covers really last.

  5. No tax weekend is good if like you said go by your list. Here in Tennessee during no tax weekend you find things like Crayola crayons for 50¢ a box for 24 packs . School supplies and shoes are all that I buy during this weekend bc the prices on these items in our area are really discounted. However, clothing items I buy in the next size up at the end of each season. Example: I buy new summer clothes for the next year in fall and new winter clothes for my children in the spring of each year. Also, I have 3 girls so things like backpacks and blue jeans we buy good quality bc they 9x out of 10 make it through more than one to possibly all 3 of our children!!!! Working on a video close to the things you have discussed here in this video. When I get it finished I will most likely link this video for them to watch as well. Very well done.

  6. Awesome tips! I always buy refurbished or used electronics. I get my phones/tablets/etc at and will usually get a model (on my phone) that is at least 2 models down from the newest model on the market. I have saved so much doing it this way. As for teens, they don't need the "greatest" and "best" phone, they need one that will make the emergency calls, so spending hundreds of dollars on a phone or even a tablet is crazy, you can find inexpensive ones that will do the job on Swappa all day long.

    Also, in Oct-Dec, the school supplies go on clearance at many of the box stores, so stock up for the coming school year or mid-year school needs. Grocery stores and Walgreens are also great places to find school supplies. Walgreens usually will clearance theirs out just weeks after school starts, so that is another place to stock up from on the items that are needed year after year.

  7. Awesome tips! I always buy refurbished or used electronics. I get my phones/tablets/etc at and will usually get a model (on my phone) that is at least 2 models down from the newest model on the market. I have saved so much doing it this way. As for teens, they don't need the "greatest" and "best" phone, they need one that will make the emergency calls, so spending hundreds of dollars on a phone or even a tablet is crazy, you can find inexpensive ones that will do the job on Swappa all day long.

    Also, in Oct-Dec, the school supplies go on clearance at many of the box stores, so stock up for the coming school year or mid-year school needs. Grocery stores and Walgreens are also great places to find school supplies. Walgreens usually will clearance theirs out just weeks after school starts, so that is another place to stock up from on the items that are needed year after year.

  8. I agree with buying a good backpack and lunch box! I also make them reuse it, I think it is so worth it!

    I also think better quality shoes are a necessity. Feet are important, so spending a little more for shoes that won't hurt their feet, or wear out in a couple months is worth it to us.

    A few more tips I would suggest are, buy clearance school supplies at the end of the year before(of course on stuff they will need for sure, pencils, glue, Notebooks, paper). It had saved us a lot.

    Look around for deals and sales on items, and buy slowly over a few weeks. I find items go on sale at different times.

    And make kids reuse for the next year. They bring home so much unused stuff from the year before, save it!

  9. Thank you for the advice to get what the teacher requests. As a teacher, I request items that are quality brands, lasting longer & a better deal for the money in the long run. (Brands like Crayola, Fiskars, Ticonderoga are great!) I agree that a well-made backpack is a must, as well as it needing to be good size rather than a mini, tot sized backpack. Preschoolers often need to put their winter coat inside a backpack which helps avoid transmitting lice between coats in cubbies. The teachers know the information to help you make the best decisions in purchasing school supplies & most are happy to answer questions.

  10. Just wanted to thank you Dana, for saying positive things about teachers. We get bashed and abused left and right and it’s nice to hear someone say we know something! Love your Tuesday videos!

  11. Ahhh, no Jim back to school vlog. I loved that he did the vlogs with the kids – great Dad! But seriously, the box is the way to go especially when you have multiple kids. Easy peasy!!

  12. In my area, Goodwill honors the back to school tax free day. I got a triple whammy deal utilizing, 1. the color of the week discount , 2. state tax free discount, and also 3. some Goodwills give points for shopping. Loving it! Working it! Also, Dollar Tree has a 10% off day, but it is usually around the Christmas holiday. I will stock up on some school supplies and give them as presents. Lastly, and my all time favorite , some stores discount holiday novelty pencils, erasers and pens the week after Holloween, Christmas and Easter. They make great birthday gifts. One thing, you can't go wrong, giving some type of school supply gift, to a child ; you know it's going to be needed and used. School shopping needn't be a burden if planned around these days of discounts. Aside from holiday bargains and tax free day deals, one thing I highly recommend, as an educator, are highlighters for children in grades 2 and up. It's been proven that highlighters help greatly, enhancing visual learning, staying organized and develop better study skills.

  13. Another thing I just remembered, pretty important, libraries have Book Sales, sometimes they have an education section and you might be able to find Math workbooks, study guides and other useful books for whatever subject kids in middle or High School are studying. It's nice to have a book to keep and write in. Libraries are the most important, underutilized resource any child can take advantage of so don't forget to get a library card for your child. take them to the library. It's free

  14. My kids have had their backpacks/lunch kits for 4years. And they are still in excellent condition so they will be using them again this yr. They are LL Bean. And I think all in, I paid close to $75 each. At the time a few people called me a snob for "wasting" money on them :~)

  15. We buy more expensive name brand backpacks that come with a lifetime warranty. When the zipper breaks, we've just shipped them to the company and they send us a new one back. I haven't had to buy one in years.

  16. I bought my 2 daughters Kipling backpacks for about $54 and they’ve had them now for 3 school yrs. They still look really nice. I offered to buy them a Kipling bag again and only one said yes. My senior in HS wants to go 4 yrs with hers. 🤷🏻‍♀️

  17. I was so disappointed in our school kits this year. I had purchased them for years for our kids. This year they switched companies and there was all generic brands. You do save money on the kits because you get exactly what they ordered. Like 6 black dry erase markers. Try finding just a pack of six dry erase markers. Most contained two or eight. Or in a package with other colors. Or 20 ziploc bags when the standard package came with 35. I don’t know if teachers never go to stores and see how these things are packaged or just come up with some number of items and divide it buy the number of kids in a normal class. But it is frustrating having to buy “extras” for the class because of the way things are packaged. The bigger issue here is community classroom supplies. All or most of the supplies in the lower grades are taken from the individual children and put in a community supply. They are doled out to the students on an equal basis regardless of who brought what. So there are families who bring everything on the list, some like us who bring more, and some who only bring what they think their child needs or what they feel they want to contribute. So in essence they force other families to subsidize the unwilling. Now of course some families can’t afford supplies. And I have no argument buying extras to help those families. I just have issues with lame parents who think they can milk other parents. It is also a little frustrating when I buy the 12 pack of Elmer’s glue sticks, 42 presharpened ticondorga pencils, paper,ate erasers. And my kid gets stuck with the chewed up pencil and dried up glue stick from the dollar store. But is in pc to say anything about it. So what we do is doneated every thing that is requested to the community supplies and then some. Then we purchase our kids own things for just them to use. I speak to the teacher about it ahead of time. Because I don’t want any hard feelings. Usually teachers at ok with it. Up after I contributed 72 pencils to my sons class last year, he to,d the teacher took the rest of his individual supply of pencils and never gave them back to him. So frustrating. Oh I was so disappointed in the school kit that I just donated The Whike pack to any kid who needs it and then went to the big box stores to buy my sons supplies.

  18. A used calculator is probably not a bad idea. But a lot of the schools ask for chromebooks. Both my kids need them. They are so cheap and have such short life span, I would buy new.

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