Girl getting school supplies from pencil case.

Back-to-school shopping can either be fun or it can be dreadful. With a busy schedule and the costs going up, shopping for school may be not as enjoyable as it used to be.

Today, there are more fancy supplies and gadgets on the market and it’s easy to overspend. What’s worse, is spending on unnecessary stuff that you and your kids don’t need.

Here’s my list of back-to-school items that don’t have to be on your shopping list.

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Meals planned, groceries shopped with eMeals and Walmart, Instacart, and more!

Things you don't need for back to school

Before getting into the list, take inventory of any school supplies or gear that you already have. There’s a good chance you already have a lot of the essentials. 

Check what you have, school supplies, fall clothes, accessories, lunch bags or boxes, etc. If it’s in good usable condition and are fine carrying it over to the new school year, then it’s one less thing you have to buy.

Depending on how old your kids are, they might be at an age where their image matters a lot to them. Wearing the latest fashion, buying from the latest popular brands can put a strain on the budget.

If there are budget constraints, find a way to compromise. If your child wants an expensive brand-name item, let them know what the back-to-school budget is and that shopping has to fit the budget.

I want to add that I’m not telling anyone what they can and cannot buy for their kids for school. If you have a generous budget and enjoy buying all the supplies and gear, go for it. Each family is different.

If you’re a mom with a tight budget and feeling the pressure to buy it all, here are some things you can leave out of your shopping list.

  1. A new backpack. Most backpacks last at least 2 years or more. If it is not damaged, a new backpack is not necessary.
  2. A new wardrobe. A few new pieces are expected but an entire wardrobe is not. September can still be quite warm and it’s likely they will still be wearing their summer clothing.
  3. Trendy and novelty school supplies. It’s tempting to buy the latest new designs and characters, but sticking to the basics is just fine.
  4. Extra art supplies. Unless your child is enrolled in an art school, extras can cause clutter. Try buying only what you need and as you need them.
  5. Correction fluid. Not sure if kids still use this and I remember using this in school called whiteout. It will still be obvious that you made a mistake (that’s okay). It also can make a mess and it adds to the extra cost. Not worth it.
  6. Too many notebooks. This is not a huge deal as notebooks can always come in handy. It’s the paper clutter that can add up and depending on the type of notebook you get, it can be costly.
  7. More storage containers. It can be easy to accumulate lots of boxes, bags, and storage containers. Whether it be for supplies or lunches, too many can be overwhelming and a waste of money. Understandable if they get lost or damaged frequently. Look for a more durable and higher-quality lunch box that can easily fit into a backpack. Less likely to get damaged and easy to prevent another lost item at school.
  8. New generation models. Phones and tablets are updated frequently and it can feel like you have to buy the latest model. The truth is, you don’t. Keep devices that work properly and do the job. 
  9. Locker decor. Looking back to when I was in school, the only way I decorated my locker was with magazine clippings and photos. Decorations can make school fun but only temporarily. 
  10. Licensed characters & Themes. Okay, I get it. I have a toddler and I could definitely get carried away. Let your child choose one or two character-themed items. There are so many new cartoon characters, it’s hard to keep up.
  11. Jewelry and novelty beauty. Fashion can be a form of expression for a lot of kids but buying too much can take a significant chunk of the budget. Set a reasonable amount for beauty and accessories before you shop.
  12. Phone holders.  These holders can come in a million shapes, sizes, and patterns. Your child might want one for each outfit. Help them choose one versatile phone grip/holder.
  13. Candy & Chocolate. Treats of of course are fine in moderation. If it’s too frequent it can start to cause problems like cavities, tummy troubles, mood swings, etc. Also, treats are not cheap either.

Often parents buy more than they need for back to school for a few reasons, like not taking inventory of what they already have, not setting a budget in advance, and caving to the pressure to buy the latest fads.

Rest assured that your kids will do well even without all the fancy stuff. A reminder that you are not a bad mom because you didn’t get your kids the latest trend. 

Set your budget, and let your kids help in shopping for school within your budget. They might actually enjoy the challenge!

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