Four Tips for Painless Back-To-School Shopping

The thought of back-to-school shopping evokes so many feelings in me. First and foremost it gives me a feeling of sadness that the summer is coming to an end. But it also gives me a feeling of possibilities because it’s a new beginning. However you feel about school shopping, the fact is that it’s that time of year again. Here are four of my best tips to help move the process along as smoothly as possible.

Clean Up From Last School Year

That might sound a little weird considering that for most households school ended months ago. However, there are probably still remnants of last school year that are lurking within your home. Gather backpacks and clean out pockets. You will be surprised what you will find. Clean off desks and file any papers that you want to keep from last year. While you are at it, assess the backpack situation to see if what they have is usable for another year, or if you need to add a new one to the shopping list.

Two weeks ago we spent an afternoon sorting through backpacks from school, sports, and camps. We came up with a pile of trash, a few things to save, and a couple of things that we thought were lost. Then we washed all of the backpacks and hung them to dry. He chose the ones he wanted to keep and we were able to give away others that were still in great condition.

Declutter and Purge Clothing

Since school shopping usually entails new clothes, it’s always a good practice to first sort through what you already have. I always send The Mayor (my son) into his closet and tell him, “pull out any clothes that don’t fit, or you won’t wear.” That usually yields a pile of clothing to part with. If your kiddos are still little, then work together with them on what stays and what goes. Then do the same for shoes, socks, and other items they need in order to look their back-to-school best.

This step is particularly helpful when you have littles. There is nothing more trauma inducing to your morning than a child who refuses to remove a too small article of clothing that they have happily dressed in.

Make a List

Now that you have assessed the needs, make a list so that you can stay on track when it is time to shop. This is also a good time to check with their school and get their school supplies list as well.

Set a Budget and Expectations

Once you know what you need it’s time to come up with a budget. The budget will also help you set expectations when dealing with older children. You will also want to prioritize your list, especially if you have a limited budget. Once you have your budget, it’s time to set expectations on what you will be buying and even where you will be shopping. 

I will usually put a dollar amount and a number of pieces when setting the expectation for The Mayor. I will say that we have x number of dollars to spend and with that, we need to get 2 shirts, 2 bottoms, a backpack and at least 1 pair of shoes.

One thing I recommend is to buy less than you think they need. Not only do they grow so fast, but once they go back to school they will be exposed to new fads and styles that they will HAVE to have! You will also have the weather to contend with. My son usually starts school in shorts and will wear them well into the fall. So we don’t buy too much because I know we will need to go buy pants at some point.

Once you have done your prep work, the rest of the back-to-school shopping should be a little less painful. You can head out feeling organized and armed with all the information you need to get it done.

If you are looking for some more helpful information to be ready to send the kids back to school, then you can check out my blog post on Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Back-to-School.

Published by Jenn DePauw - Organized Priorities

Jenn is the owner of Organized Priorities, a Colorado-based company specializing in Organization, Productivity, and Operations. As an organization and productivity professional, Jenn specializes in individual and team productivity coaching as well as organization for both individuals and small businesses. She is also the author of The Organized Priorities Blog (, an organization and lifestyle blog that focuses on making life more organized, more productive, and a little easier. For helpful tips on everything from weekly planning to home organization, and daily celebrations to words of encouragement you can follow @organizedpriorities on Instagram.

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