Back To School: Budgeting for Success

The backpack was a gift from Grandma. These gifts always make me happy. Emma is very excited to have a new school friend!

We decided to live on a budget a long time ago and that is a huge commitment. It demands a lot of self- control that just flies through the window when it comes to school supplies! I mean, who didn’t get excited about that super large colored pencil box? I did! The smell of the new books, a new backpack… oh yeah, those were the good days! Now I want my little one to have the same excitement as I do, BUT she is only 3, so you can forecast big clouds of drama and tantrums in public places.

Here is how I made it happen for my family and I!

1. Establish your budget.

You can have a rough idea of how much to spend based on the past year’s list adding some extra expenses because it is a new teacher, new classes, new ideas. Also, your little may be growing and being very specific about what he/she loves. Emma is on a Minnie Mouse moment, so…

Small family update: Emma is officially potty trained. YAY!!! As a graduation gift, I bought Minnie Mouse underwear. She loves them and she is proud to wear them! And it cost me under $10 for a pack with 6.

2. Stock nonperishable items.

We know that tissue paper and glue sticks will be in high demand, so Dollar Store, hello!

Create a small crafts station in your house! They can repeat the activities they made at school. This way, your kids can get used to new supplies and keep the anxiety at a normal level.

3. Try to anticipate growth spurts and enjoy a good sale.

If you are like me, Walmart is the place to buy school clothes. (no, Walmart is not paying me to say that hahahah) Pay attention to good deals for the next season. That CLEARANCE rack is your friend! 

*I am not in any way, shape or form averse to the fancy brands, but as I mentioned before, we live on a budget. A $200 pair of shoes for a toddler is just not feasible.

Remember what kind of activities they will be involved and add these special items to the main list such as but not limited to a good jacket for winter, extra socks, rain coat, sunblock, bug spray, etc.

$10 pair of tennis that are easy to wear and laundry machine friendly!

4. Develop a habit of saving.

Assign a small amount of money from every paycheck for all extra activities, like school pictures, fundraising, cookie baking, trips, appreciation gifts to teachers, and extra friends that will receive that special Valentine! These activities WILL happen, and we want to be prepared. You can create a savings account and rename it to “Emma’s school activities”. This way you will not feel tempted to move this money to checking if it is not necessary. I recommend auto draft.

This money also can be assigned to extra treats and lunches we will provide during the year. We don’t want this to happen!


I cannot stress that enough. Go in peace, move fast, and leave the store safe and sound! 

If you think your little could enjoy some fun picking school supplies, take them to get ONE item, such a backpack and lunch box, or a special outfit for first day, but explain that you have only this much money (if you have it in cash, it is key! – a small envelope that has X amount and a small narrative: “See, mommy has only this to buy your t-shirt and let them choose and pay at the checkout. They will feel empowered and responsible!)

6. Talk to other parents.

Buying in bulk saves some dollars!

7. Do not underestimate the power of Amazon.

I have talked to some mothers that cannot go to department stores due to several reasons, and online shopping has saved them! Be on the lookout for FREE SHIPPING and have fun! The online shopping also can help your littles to be involved in the process. Tag YOUR favorites and let them choose from a small list with 3 items max per example.

8. Enjoy! This time passes so fast.

The new teacher wish list. Dollar Store – $ 7.00

I am heading to my favorite stores this weekend and it will be a blast. Daddy will be with Emma and we will meet for lunch AFTER mommy is done. Tag team for the win!

See you next time!

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