I don't know about anyone else, but the beginning of the school year keeps getting more and more expensive the higher the school grade goes. That leaves me each year with knowing ahead of time what the children need for school.
I love Ebay and the bargains you can find for children and if you watch carefully, you can practically steal some of the things for your children. For example, today I purchased for the girls each a skort and top that are in excellent used condition and some were brand spanking new with the tags still on them. My total cost for 5 pieces with shipping and insurance? Less than $50.
The girls love shopping on Ebay for several reasons. The first being the oldest hates shopping at all, so she can look over my shoulder and choose what she wants. Secondly, they usually have clothes that no one else at their school has. Thirdly, who can wait to rip open a package when it comes in the mail? They love waiting for their packages.
Then, I start choosing things for their backpacks and stock up when I can on sale items such as glue sticks, pencils, spiral notepads, crayons, markers, etc. WalMart, CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aide usually have killer deals on back to school supplies.
Lastly, unless it is totally necessary, we do not purchase new lunch boxes or book bags for the kids each school year. If the old one is still in great shape, why toss it to purchase a new one?
Shoes are purchased at Famous Footwear, Sears of JC Penny when they come on sale and we usually purchase a pair for school and a pair for church.
I have found if I catch the sales, watch what I am buying I can spend less than $350 for the entire back to school supplies and clothing.
There are also web-sites specifically for hand-me-downs, there is 2 good 2 toss in Washington and consignment shops work both as a way to purchase clothing and dispose of the new clothing while placing a few dollars back in your pocket.
Let me know how you save money for the impending school year, I am always open to new ideas~