What Your Kids Actually Need for Back-To-School


August is upon us – eek! Just like that, summer zooms by and another school year is at our doorstep. Just yesterday, as I perused our local Walmart, the sales associates were transitioning their summer seasonal area into a full-fledged back to school shopping zone. But what do kids really need for back to school? Read on to save yourself some money and avoid the clichéd back to school marketing traps!

School Supplies

In August, back to school supplies shine in every storefront window and promotion aisle, but what do your kids really need? Often, in the first week of school, it’s next to nothing, other than a basic writing utensil. Most teachers send a letter home before or during the first week of the school year informing parents of what students actually need. Often, this list is quite short and simple. Moreover, since you probably won’t get around to buying list items until mid-September, the focus of stores will have then turned to Halloween, and you’ll most likely get all the back-to-school supplies on clearance!

Backpacks and Lunch Bags

Do your kids really need a new backpack and lunch bag each school year? Even the grimiest lunch bags in June can be washed and dried to be fully functional in September (trust me on this one – my kids were really gross). Moreover, as long as your kids’ backpack physically fits them and isn’t falling apart, there is no need for a new one. If they absolutely need these items, try to hold out until mid-September when they will all be half price.

Clothing and Shoes

I really, really love shopping for clothes and shoes so this is tough for me to say, but other than inside running shoes for elementary students, kids don’t need any new clothes for September. First of all, summer-like temperatures usually continue until nearly the end of the month, so even if you buy the new jeans and sweaters, they’ll be roasting in them. If you do want to purchase a special back to school outfit and have access to online shopping, you’ll find the best deals in clearance sections of websites. Popular online kids stores such as The Children’s Place, Gap and Old Navy often have great sales. If you’re into children’s designer clothes, Canadian online retailer Moncouturier also has fantastic online clearance deals.

School Supplies and Clothing Labels

I’ve fallen into this trap more than once and have purchased specialized labels for my kid’s clothing, supplies and shoes. I think it’s all fine and dandy until I realize I’ve paid $60 for two packs of stickers. Do you need to label your kid’s stuff? Yes.  But you’ll be able to do that by purchasing a $3.00 fabric marker from any local department store.