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It feels like summer has only just begun, but there is no denying the back-to-school ads popping up in your feed. The time is drawing near, and the supply list has already been issued. Back to school shopping can feel like a bit of a daunting task, but with a little perspective and planning, it can be a breeze. We’ve asked our staff for some of their ideas to reduce waste and spending, reuse gently loved items, and return to school fully prepared!


Setting a realistic budget, and a realistic time line for getting to everything on the list can help make the task feel a little less overwhelming. Knowing how much you have to spend each week can help you prioritize spending on big-ticket items, like software, electronics, and shoes.

Shop Around

While it may seem convenient to grab school supplies from the same place you’re already grabbing groceries, convenience very rarely leads to the best options. Take the time to look up sale prices, compare ads, and ask around. Finding coupons and deep discounts can add up quickly, and it’s worth the legwork!

Swap Meet! 

Rather than buying your child a whole new wardrobe, try to start a trade-up chain on social media! If you have a friend whose child has just outgrown a size your little one is coming into, see if you can trade them for your older child’s goods. If you don’t have anything of value to them, see if you can connect multiple families on a specific trading group (Always ask permission before adding friends to groups!) Each family can post photos of clothing they have to trade. Not only will your child have a new wardrobe to start the year, you’ll have gotten rid of items that no longer fit without spending months forgotten in the trunk of your car on the way to the donation center.

Make a List

When you find yourself at the store alone and wander into the back-to-school aisles, it can be easy to just grab anything you think your child may need. This can get expensive quickly! Instead, follow the specific list your child’s teacher sent out. While colored highlighters may be fun to work with, they may not be required by the classes your child is taking. Following the list will make things easier on your child’s teacher, and could save you quite a bit of money and frustration! And while your child probably needs fresh socks, and has definitely outgrown last year’s shoes, knowing for sure that your child doesn’t need a new backpack, jeans, or 22 new t-shirts can keep that back to school bill from growing out of hand.


“New year, new you” doesn’t always mean a whole new wardrobe. If your student has a timeless sense of style, it can easily mean that last year’s jacket, shoes, and bag are perfectly fine to carry them through this new school year.


While it may be convenient and tempting to buy disposable lunch bags, water bottles, and utensils, not only are reusable options less expensive over time, they cut your carbon footprint on a daily basis. While your child is working so hard to get an education for the future, you are working hard to keep that future clean and secure for them.

Play it Again

Sports equipment is notoriously expensive, and is often grown out of long before it’s seen its first game. Check with local consignment shops, trade groups, and thrift shops before spending a fortune on pads and cleats.

Be Resourceful

Schools and libraries offer free computer access. Research papers, ask questions, and access assignments online in a quiet, safe environment. Scanning, printing, and loaner software are also available, usually for a small fee.

Head Start

Getting an early start can help you avoid the crowds that make back to school shopping feel so overwhelming. It also leaves plenty of time to assess what you really have, and what you truly need. Skip the anxiety of last-minute shopping and start now!

Pace Yourself

Some items, like books and pencils, will be non-negotiable. Take your time on the rest. Clothing shopping can be done gradually, and if possible, leave much of it until after school starts. While the phrase “back to school sale” would lead you to believe clothing has been marked down to the max, this often isn’t the case. Instead, prices tend to drop in the weeks after school has started. 

There is every chance that this is the school year that changes everything for your child. New friends, new passions, and new opportunities are shaping them into our future leaders, and we could not be more proud! Thank you for letting Dundee Bank be part of your family’s adventures.