i should be mopping the floor: Series: Back to School on a Budget, Part One

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Series: Back to School on a Budget, Part One

Oh my...my first vlog is....errrr, interesting. 
Love the look on my face...not!

Before you hit the stores, take an in-depth inventory of what you already have.
{To read part two of the series, click here.}

Before I even start my Back-to-School shopping, I do major clean outs/inventories of both of my kids' closets. This not only lets me know what we need, but it also makes room for new stuff and gets the closet in tip-top order for the new school year.

I start with the following steps:

- I pull out everything they've outgrown. If it's still in good condition, we pass it along to other friends {or down the hall to little brother's closet}. I try not to do too many "maybe this will fit him the first couple of months of school"...I don't want to have to revisit "closet clean out" again in October. If I know the fit of an item is starting to become questionable, it's pulled. 

- This also becomes a major try-on session {to my kids' chagrin}. If long sleeve shirts don't come down to the wrist, they're out. If short sleeve tops show a little too much muscle, see ya later. If jeans and pants show socks {when wearing shoes}, they're too small. 

- I also pull out stuff we're not fond of. There's always a few shirts/jeans in everyone's closet that never get worn for whatever reason or another: {it's itchy, it's ugly, I threw up in it once, blah, blah, blah}. My oldest son had a pair of black jeans last year that fit him so oddly. I don't know why I tried to "make them work" for so long. They got the boot this year...and not to our brother's closet! Sometimes it's hard to get rid of perfectly good clothing because we just don't like it...there's guilt associated with the fact that we're blessed with so many clothes while some have none. But, it's better to get rid of something that isn't serving its purpose by just hanging in the closet all year. It could go to someone who really does like it and will wear it a lot more. 

- I also look for worn out clothes. The biggest area for us is jeans. Man, we go through jeans. I've gotten to where I only buy certain brands {more on that in part two} simply because I know their knees will hold up better than others. Gap jeans have the best knee structure for both of my boys...they always fit great. And Children's Place always seem a little thicker than others. Some minor knee holes are definitely repairable and will last us at least another six months to another year. I'll go more into my jeans repair/reinforcement method in the next post as well. If you're a mom of boys, you may already do this as well.

- Go through shoes, too! Even if a sneaker still fits, it gets demoted to a non-school shoe...or camping only {my older son is a scout and we keep some 'rugged' clothes on hand for campouts and 'dirty' activities}. I check the treads, the laces, etc. If it's a church/dressier shoe and has too many scuffs, I get rid of it. If it has any holes or is just worn out, it goes into the waste basket. 

- Don't skip the dresser drawers. I even go through socks, PJs, undies & undershirts. If socks are solos or have holes, I get rid of them. Same with undies & undershirts. Be sure to check elastic on the undies, too...if it's shot, they're done.

- Your coat closet shouldn't be forgotten either. I usually try to make sure each child has one lightweight jacket {I try to get the kind that is water resistant and can act as a rain coat, too} and one heavy coat {for the rare Texas days that it dips below freezing}.

Although it may be too late to go back and save last year's supplies...it's something to keep in mind for next year. When my kids bring their supplies home at the end of the year, I go through them and save what is still in good shape for the following year. Once our stores start carrying the local schools' lists, I can see what we already have and mark it off before we even start shopping. 

In years past, we've always purchased new ones each year at Target or similar. This year, I'm taking a different approach and investing in nicer ones from LL Bean & Pottery Barn {someone has to have the Darth Vader one}. I've already discussed with the boys that they will be using these nicer bags for several years...so they need to choose wisely {still trying to convince my younger one that once he's older, he may not want to carry a Darth Vader bag}!

After you've taken your inventory, start making a list:

1. How many jeans/pants/shorts do your kids need for the school year {and be realistic, here...what do you really go through, clothing wise}? I like my kids to have 12-15 pairs of good jeans. That may sound like a lot to many {or not many to others}, but it's what works really well for us. If I get really behind on laundry {that's not very uncommon} or a pair gets ripped, stained or left behind at camp or in a locker room, it's not a big deal. I know we have plenty. Besides church, they wear jeans 90% of the time...except in September when we're still in shorts here in Texas. And we even wear the darker, nicer jeans to church, sometimes {as long as they have a collared shirt on, I'm great with that...and our church is casual}. 

2. How many school shirts do your kids need? And other shirts? My boys wear t-shirts to school most of the time. I'm very picky about what's on the t-shirt...I am not a character t-shirt mom {I'm so mean...heehee}, and I can't even handle dumb "messages" on kids' shirts {is it the kids' message or the parents'?}. I really can't handle it if the kid is over four years old {because let's face it, my babies did own 'Party in my Crib: 2 am' onesies}.  But, if I see a first grader wearing a shirt that says "my mom is hotter than yours", my eye rolling factor kicks in and I just want to puke. But hey, to each his own. I'll try my hardest not to judge you for dressing your kid in "message" shirts. Too much.
A good number of t-shirts for us is {don't judge, please}, about three dozen. Yes, that's 36 shirts. Per kid. But when you find out the way I shop, you won't think I'm too nuts {I don't know, maybe you will}. Haha...I just went and counted Ben's short sleeved {school} shirts and there's sixty of them....good gracious. Geez,  I *may* have a problem. But, I promise, I didn't blow the budget. For the record, it was a pre-inventory count.

3. How many dresses do your girls need? And leggings? And other 'girl school clothes' that I'm not qualified to talk about? You'll have to forgive my brevity here...I don't have a clue on how to shop for girls. {I probably would go overboard on it, too...especially in light of the fact that my seven-year-old has 60 short-sleeved school shirts...that doesn't even include the collared ones for church...I'm kind of wondering if I'm really qualified to write this series.}

4. What about shoes? Our boys each have two main pair of school shoes: a pair of Nikes and a slip-on canvas shoe for non-gym days. In addition to school shoes, they each have numerous pairs of Crocs {like a crazy amount...they even have sherpa-lined ones for winter...they like their Crocs}, two pair of dressier shoes {usually a pair of black and brown}, two pair of pool flip flops, sports cleats, and a pair of boat/deck shoes {because their mom is currently obsessed with them}. Again, I'm just giving you our numbers as a guideline...do what works best for your own family.

Clothing wise, once you figure out what your kids need for the year, determine from your inventory how much of this must be purchased and how much you already have in your closet(s). Feel free to download my checklist {here} to use to make your list of clothing needs. 

Now....are we all completely overwhelmed? Hopefully not too much. I'm hoping this crazy planning may make a lot more sense in my second post! Come back next week to check it out!

The other two posts in this series:
PART THREE: Supplies & Gadgets & "the MOM Pile" {will be live on July 31st}

All About a Bloom Link Party (Jenny@Bloom Designs)Cast Party Wednesday (Sheryl@Lady Behind the Curtain)Crafty Sasse Wednesday Link Party (Kim@The Sasse Life)Creative Share Wednesdays (The Trendy Treehouse)Hoo’s got talent? (Leslie@Night Owl Crafting)Lil’ Luna Link Party (Kristyn@Lil’ Luna)Link It Up Wednesday (Junk In Their Trunk)Linking Party (Passionately Artistic)Mrs. Fox’s Sweet Party (Mrs. Fox’s Sweets)Penny Pinching Party (Jen@The Thrifty Home)Recipe Round-Up (Gooseberry Patch)Show & Share (Lindsay@Southern Lovely)Show & Tell Linking Party! 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  1. I was also going to drop big money on PB backpacks, until I found Hannah Anderson's-super nice, good reviews and great price!

  2. Great post! I'm keeping this tips in mind for my shopping.

    ~Steph @ Silver Boxes

  3. thanks for this great post, 60 shirts!! wow!! I only buy mu son 3 shirts for the winter months and 3 polo shirts for the summer months. My main problem is with his school shoes, he scuffs the fronts, and often plays football in them, i tell him to wear his trainers for this but he says he forgets! so i'm often buying new shoes for him every 6 weeks

  4. We had the Darth Vader backpack from Pottery Barn Kids and I was very disappointed with the quality :-(. Maybe I just got a bad one, I don't know. It completely split apart near the top of the bag within 3 months of use (and my son isn't too hard on his stuff either).

  5. Great post, thanks for sharing this information. ;o) Smiles, Paula

  6. My son has a ton of shirts too, but aside from the ones his Nana buys for him, none of the are new off the rack. It's all second hand stuff for us here. Oh and I had to LOL about the message shirts. I'm not crazy about them either. The only one my son has is one that says "It seemed like a good idea at the time," which if you know him suits his personality perfectly. And even grown-ups seem to like it.

  7. I need to start thinking about this. I always keep the summer clothes for when they go back in the autumn as it's generally still warm. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for all the wonderful tips!

    We'd love for you to link up to our Finished Friday Blog Party.

  9. such great tips, really liked them!!! will be using these ones this year, thanks!!!

  10. I am so thankful you linked this to our Handmade Tuesdays party! These tips are awesome, and I just pinned it. Thanks again!