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Back to school shopping tips for moms

If the back to school displays seem less like a siren call and more like a blaring alarm, you may be suffering from shopper’s stress. After all, you’re probably juggling multiple lists — often a different one for each child — along with trying to replenish uniforms and other outgrown clothes and shoes. Here’s a cheat sheet that will help you ace your back to school shopping!

Back to school

Last year, I hauled my family of seven — including a newborn — to a series of stores in late August to get everything we needed for school. By the end of the day, everyone was cranky and hungry, and we still didn’t have everything we needed. Not exactly the best way to kick off a new school year. This year, I vowed to do things better. Here are my tips.

1Make a master list

I have four children in school, which means I have four supply lists to juggle. Three lists were emailed to me, but the fourth was sent as a hard copy. I called the school and asked if that one could be emailed, and a few minutes later, I had it. Then, it was relatively easy to go through and combine everything into one master list. That way, I knew I needed four red 2-pocket folders, eight spiral notebooks, and so on — instead of being forced to flip back and forth in the stores.

2Can you skip the shopping?

Some schools offer to buy your supplies for you as a fundraiser. Sure, you’ll pay a little bit more than you would have if you shopped the sales and scoured for discounts, but only you can decide what your time is worth. If you work full time or want to spend the summer having fun with your kids, you may decide the added cost is worth it.

3Plan your shopping day

Don’t set out to shop until you have a plan in place — and make sure that it’s reasonable. For example, if you need new clothes for your three children, ages 4 to 14, and all their supplies, you’re not going to accomplish everything in two hours. Instead of making yourself crazy, see if you can drop the teen off to shop for his own clothes while you take the younger ones for theirs. Meet up for lunch to give everyone a break and assess purchases, then regroup for supplies in the early afternoon.

4Order online

See if you can order some of your purchases online. You may be able to skip one or two stores entirely if you can find the items you need from the comfort of your computer. Consider teaming up with a friend to save on shipping costs.

5Stock up now

This is the time of year to get all your school supplies, so don’t be afraid to buy a little more than you think you need. In January, when the teacher sends home a not asking for extra tissues, crayons, or binders, you’ll have them ready to go. You won’t need to make an extra trip — or to pay extra for what’s on deep discount now.

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