Just Say No to All That “New” Stuff: Back to School Shopping

It’s a conundrum. Every year you get a list of supplies that your kid needs for school. Every year you wonder, really, do they need all of this new stuff?

This year I decided to take inventory at home and compare it to our list from my kid’s school. Between looking through our stuff and being resourceful we were able to reuse some items from our home/last school year. We also didn’t take the option of having a company ship all school supplies from their warehouse directly to the school classroom since that wouldn’t have allowed me to take inventory and use what my son already had.


So here goes the list of what we will NOT be purchasing new for 2nd grade:

Fat tipped markers: We can make a full set with what we have.

Notebook: We have a stash of partially used ones. We can send a second if/when my kid runs out of paper in the first.

Plastic Homework Folder: My kid can reuse the same one from the past two school years as it is not broken.

Eraser for dry erase board: My kid used a cloth from home last year (teacher requested!). He’ll use that again.

Scissors: The pair my kid used last year is still in great shape.

Liquid glue: We have several bottles. One of those is going to school.

Backpack: It has no holes and the straps aren’t fraying or coming off. No need for a new one.

Lunch bag: It’s a bit dirty on the outside (it’s mostly white), but it’s otherwise in great shape and serves its purpose.


Things we did need to buy because we didn’t have them/didn’t have enough:
A very specific size ruler box

Post –It Notes

Fine tipped markers (We have so many markers, but NO fine tipped ones!)

Glue sticks




Dry erase markers: Last year’s set is dried out.

Colored pencils: We have some at home, but really only one set. We still want to have them at home, so we needed a school set.teacher-953427_1280

Things I’m considering reusing from the past:

4 folders from last year that are in nearly mint condition and in the right colors per the list we got, but are NOT plastic as indicated on the list. I can reinforce with packing tape, right? Seems wasteful to me to not reuse these.

Crayons: We have sharpened what we have and have 24 different colors including the basic hues in a regular box. Yes or no… On the fence about these as sharpened crayons don’t always work as well as new ones.

Headphones: My kid’s headphones work on the computers in the main computer lab, but they don’t work on a small number of computers that are right outside of that room…. Don’t know if it’s a headphone compatibility issue, a user issue, or another issue.  I might take them to school on back to school night and test them myself.
Why am I insisting on reusing some things? I am trying myself not to live such a disposable life. I am also trying to teach my kid to not always have to have the newest or latest or greatest and thus to not have to live such a disposable life in a culture that wants us to buy things every moment of the day. What I do now when he is a kid matters. What he witnesses now could help him form healthier habits for the future. Do I succeed at this every day? No. Do I succeed often? I hope I do.


What about back to school clothes shopping? Unless your kid has actually grown since early June or late May, what about NOT buying any new school clothes that aren’t actually needed?

My kid plays hard during recess and phy ed class and likes to get paint and markers everywhere during art class. I try not to send him to school in nice outfits. So, do I really, really need to get him a new outfit for the first day of school? No! He’ll do fine in one of his existing polo shirts if we decide he needs to look nice on the first day.

I limited our back to school clothing shopping to one thing: a pair of shoes purchased on sale. I’m pretty sure that come October 1, the pair of sandals and the pair of athletic shoes he’s been wearing since May will be too small. That’s what happened last school year, and then I scrambled for shoes for him to wear. I have the next size up ready and waiting as the sale on the pair was too good to pass up.

Think about needs vs. wants. Think about reusing vs. always buying new. Think about how much of buying new is because of your feelings and emotions vs. actual needs of your kids. Your habits and spending today influence now will influence your kids’ behaviors and spending habits in the future.


One Response to Just Say No to All That “New” Stuff: Back to School Shopping

  1. Brenda August 7, 2017 at 11:50 pm #

    yea! I agree with everything you said except the crayons. They literally are like less than a buck at wal-mart. I could never get over the day before school starting pouring over my new school supplies.

    I already bought my son his school shoes for this fall. He said are those “new” mom! and I said “New to you!” He has a barely even used pair of sneakers I got for 6 bucks that cost 45 new, and are barely worn.

    I’m going to do the same as you in with SOME of the school supplies.
    I agree this is crazy, to spend all this money on school supplies. Take inventory and then shop. Good advice.

    I will always buy my kids some new outfits for school, but for me it’s an emotional thing, not a necessary thing. Keep on being thrifty mama!

Leave a Reply