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Back-to-School Shopping: Savvy Ways to Save

Think green, think reusable and think online shopping to save time and money in getting your kids ready to return to the classroom.

With Gwinnett County schools starting in less than two weeks, many area families are scrambling to purchase needed back-to-school supplies.

The good news is there’s absolutely no need to break the bank. 

By purchasing only what your child needs, buying high quality made items and focusing on shopping locally or on-line, you can save a ton of money while being kind on the environment at the same time.

My recommendations of tried and true back-to-school items include: 

Clothing: While I understand this may not work with the older crowd (who likely prefer brand new clothes), you can save a ton of cash by shopping at consignment sales and stores or at the Goodwill (or The W as I like to call it). 

Another option for clothing is to make arrangements with a friend or neighbor who has kids a year or two older than yours for a clothing swap.  I have two friends who pass the clothes and shoes their kids have outgrown to me, and instantly my kids feel like they’ve hit the jackpot. Whatever we don’t use, I take to Goodwill or pass on to a friend that has children younger than mine.

Shoes:  My recommendation is to buy one pair of high quality tennis shoes at the beginning of the school year, with the plan to use the shoes all year.  We’ve had success at Merrill at the Forum.  Yes, you’ll spend around $40-$50 a pair, but you’ll only have to spend that once.

Another fantastic option, that just happens to be very in style right now, is TOMS shoes.  What I love about the TOMS line is that for every pair purchased, a pair is donated to a child in another country that does not own a pair of shoes.  To date, TOMS has donated over a million pair of shoes to children in underprivileged countries around the world.

Lunch Supplies and Backpacks:  Although the quality and selection of food items in our school’s cafeterias has improved slightly, it is still not up to the standard I want my children to eat.  So, I pack my kids’ lunches every day. Yes, it’s time consuming, however, at least I know that they are eating healthy (and mostly organic) food, and you’ll save possibly hundreds of dollars. You’ll need to purchase a lunch box, reusable drink container and snack containers and utensils. 

As far as lunch boxes and back packs go, my advice is to invest in high quality items that will last for several years.  When my oldest started kindergarten three years ago, I purchased a backpack, lunchbox and reusable lunch containers from the Kids store at

Honestly, the lunch containers didn’t make it through the year (cracking and splitting) and the lunch box started coming apart after a few months.  The back pack, however, is still going strong and my youngest daughter will now use it this year.

We’ve had better luck ordering items from Lands’ End on line. Last summer, I purchased a backpack and lunchbox that were used all last year by my kindergartner; they both still look brand new.

We use an outstanding reusable container and utensil set that will likely last for several more years.  Available at Babies R Us or on-line at www.fit-fresh.com, each container comes with a removable ice pack that keeps food chilled until lunchtime. All containers are also BPA free. 

School supplies:  My recommendation for school supplies is to keep it minimal, simple and only purchase what your child needs.  Just like the shoes and backpacks, buy items that will last at least all year.  When possible, purchase items that are non-toxic and made from recycled materials.

Lastly, you shouldn't need to drive all over Atlanta in search of school supplies.  What you cannot buy at the Forum or , you can purchase on-line, saving money in gas and saving you time (quality time you can spend with your kiddos before they return to school!).

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