Win Back to School shopping in five easy steps.

As the long summer winds down, kids across the country prepare to return to school. Questions swirl through the youngsters heads. Who are they going to sit next to? Will their teacher be nice? But for parents, after a summer of play-dates, parks, beaches, camps and road trips there is just one more battle to wage. Getting school supplies.  If you follow my five point plan, you and your kids will be ready for a stress free  first day of school.

1. Do your homework.
Many schools will supply a list for every grade. It takes the guess work out of it.  But if not, most big retailers (Target, Wal-Mart) and even have their own shopping lists by grade. You don't want to leave the store with a trunk full of loose leaf paper when you need 4 dozen sharpened pencils. 

2. Make a game plan
So you have your list, take a trial run at your favorite supply stores. Who has Shopkins folders? Who has BB-8 lunch boxes. You need to know where you going to get the most bang for your buck. Which store has great deals on name brand crayons, and which ones are you only going to get great deals on the store brand. 

3. Look for added value
Many of the stores are throwing in add-ons for free to bring you into their stores. Spend a certain amount and they give you a gift card. Perhaps you don't use that gift card on supplies, but lunchables don't pay for themselves. If you are a Target Red Card holder you also get 5% back on your purchases, and if you choose to do your shopping via Amazon, Prime members always get free shipping. 

4. Know what to stock up on
These lists will have lots of things that are going to run out. Glue sticks, crayons, tissues and others. During the middle of the school year your teacher will reach out to the the class to help stock up on some supplies. But in January you are not getting crayons at under a dollar. Make sure you grab extra glue sticks, crayons, pencils, construction paper, notebooks, and folders. You can just leave them in the bag and throw them in the back of the closet. What you don't need to stock up on is hand sanitizer, baby wipes, paper towels and tissues. These items are rarely discounted at back to school time, and are value priced all year long. 

5. Divide and conquer
This is really only for parents of multiple kids. You could do one shopping trip for each kid, or bring a large Ikea bag for each kid. And with your list in hand you put each individual kids supplies in their own bag. makes it easy to keep track of who needs what. Also as an added bonus, when you get home you can grab each bag at a time and know who what belongs to when labeling. And you have all your supplies that you need to bring in for the class in one convenient carrying bag.

BONUS - Don't get fooled by the bling
Flashy back packs with glitter and lights are nice and all on the first day. But by midterms, they are less blingy. And since they are usually cheaply made, they are on their last legs. Go with a sturdier less flashy named brand backpack and be assured that you will not be going on a frantic backpack search come January.

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