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By Rebekah Kinder

Last year around this time, I wrote a blog post on saving for school. As I sit here thinking about what this school year may look like, I find myself hoping for normal, but in reality we may only find a portion of normal when August comes or weeks / months into the school year.

However, most of the principles that I wrote on last year will still apply. My son’s school supply list has not come out yet. I am not sure what it will look like, but I’m still planning as if he will attend school in person. This blog post isn’t all about saving, but if you plan you can save money and time in the long run.

Let’s look at some tips on planning for this new school year.

Plan for Normal

If you wait until the week before school starts to see if there will be in-person classes, you could be looking at limited supplies and higher prices. Purchase supplies that you know you will need while they are on sale. Whether your child goes to school traditionally or virtually, you will still need school supplies.

You may be thinking, “Now, why spend money on things like backpacks and lunchboxes if I don’t even know if they will attend school in person?” I have already ordered my son’s backpack and lunchbox, because I found an amazing deal and they can always be used even if it isn’t for school. My son also chose a style that can be used for future school years. Here are some ideas for using the big ticket items outside of school.

  • Taking a trip for the weekend? Use the backpack for your child’s clothes or toys. Use the lunchbox for snacks.
  • What if school goes virtual during the school year? Use the backpack to safely store your child’s devices and other school items or use the backpack to have a field trip to the library or park. The lunchbox can come in handy for this too.
  • Buy well and use later. As mentioned earlier, a well-made backpack and lunchbox from a place like Pottery Barn Kids can be used for future years.
  • Use the lunchbox to meal plan for the day. Even if you are virtually schooling for the day, pack your child’s lunch, so they can grab and eat on their own while you work.

Buy Extras, but Don’t Hoard

We all know how the toilet paper pandemic went down in March. I plan to buy extra supplies to keep at home just in case we do have to have school virtually or if the teacher requests extras mid-year. Keep in mind that there are limits per shopping trip on some items, so make a plan to shop more often. Here are some items that I suggest getting extras.

For School

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Sanitizing Wipes and Spray
  • Kleenex

For Home

  • Pencil
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Headphones
  • Notebooks
  • Paper
  • Crayon Box

When to Buy New


The shopper inside of me likes to buy things new, but the saver inside of me says STOP! As much as I want to buy a whole new wardrobe of uniforms, I also know that last year’s uniforms are still in good shape. Right before the pandemic came along, I had just found some new uniform pants on sale. Since he only wore them for a couple of weeks, we basically have brand new pants. To see if you even need new clothes for the school year, go through your child’s clothes now. I have already taken out the clothes that are too small and those that are very well worn. I plan to buy just a few new uniform shirts and some new shoes for him to start the school year.

School Supplies

When we finally got my son’s personal belongings from the school, we brought home a crayon box, headphones, and scissors. These are all things that we can reuse, rather than buy new ones for home. I plan to buy new ones for school, but will keep the ones we have for use at home. It is also a great idea to go through your kid’s craft supplies to see what’s useable. My son already has tons of crayons and markers, so I do not plan to buy extras of those items.

College Expenses

If your college student is planning to be on campus this year, they will need the normal dorm room items. This tip is good for any year, not just this year. Check your house for items that can be used for a dorm room. Encourage your student to check their room first for items that can be used. Lastly, make sure you buy items that can also be used at home.

Electronic Devices and Internet

Now is the time to find out what devices your child may need for virtual school should it happen or even for older students who may need to use a device for homework. Stores have already started their sales on devices like laptops and tablets. It is also a good idea to look at your internet plan to make sure it will be adequate for school at home. Many providers will start their promotions soon.

We may not know what August will look like, but by planning and getting a jump on shopping now, you are sure to save some money and time this school year.