My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Great School Shopping Adventure

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They've been coming in the mail for a couple of weeks, but I've been ignoring them. I just quietly and quickly dispose of them with the other junk mail that shows up in my mailbox on a daily basis. My kids have seen them.  I know they have because when they see them they emit a groan that can only be uttered by a kid in the midst of summer vacation.  Last week, however, I made a crucial error.  Somehow I missed a "Back to School" sale ad, and left it in plain sight for my wife to see.  When she strolled into the kitchen, I realized my mistake.  As her eyes began to drop to view what was on the counter, life began to move in slow motion. I could see her start to nod slowly as she read the front page.  She picked it up and got an almost intoxicated look about her.  Our eyes met, and her lips started to move.  The words hit me like a sonic blast, "So, we have to go school shopping soon."   

The next sentence was inevitable.  I knew what was coming before she even said the first word: the phrase that strikes fear throughout the hearts of husbands and budgeters everywhere. Can you guess what it was?  "Look at these DEALS!"   

My wife and I have very different views on what a complete wardrobe is for our children. For me, it's all about numbers. We normally do major laundry on the weekend, with some minor laundry loads on Wednesdays.  Worst case, the kids need enough clothes for a week.  So, seven shorts for summer, and seven pants for cooler weather.  I'm ok with some extra shirts for variety. Over the years I've even been worn down enough to accept that my minimalist view of a wardrobe needs to have what I call "the female allowance."  Guys, you know what I mean.  It's the answer to the question, "Why does she need another dress?"  Answer: "Because she's a girl.  Girls are supposed to have more clothes."  I don't even waste the energy to ask "Why?" anymore.  I just accept it as fact. 

For her, it's about taking advantage of every sale possible.  It is against the very fiber of her being to not plunge into the 5 for $25 shirt sale at Walmart, even though my son already has more than enough shirts.  Last year, after we got done school shopping my son had 27 short sleeved shirts. She summed it up by calmly saying "that's probably enough."  All I could think of is that he could wear a different shirt every day for almost a month, without running out.   

Since my wife and I have come to terms with our debt problem, we have honestly been trying harder to be more economical with respect to clothes shopping.  We try to go through the kids' closets, determine what they need, and how much we have to spend.  I promise to not rub the phrase "It's not a sale if it makes you buy something you don't need," in too hard and she promises to try not to give me that half smile that oozes, "Oh, isn't he cute; he's trying to tell me that I can't buy that." 

In my mind, I look at my kids' drawers and see the pants that still fit from last school year, and the shorts that we just bought at the beginning of summer.  I open the closets and see not only clothes that we bought them, but also clothes that grandmas and grandpas have bought for them over the last few months.  I believe that they are already adequately ready for the fall school season.  I think to myself that we do not need to go school shopping just because it's that time of year, and kids like to wear new clothes to school.  Sure, maybe they will need some long sleeved shirts in a few months once it cools down, but certainly that is not a necessity now.   As certain as I am of my position, I know that my wife has a much different opinion when she opens up the closet doors.  There is a discussion brewing on the horizon, and I hope we both have the strength and the willpower to compromise, such that we end up on budget! 

What are your thoughts on school shopping, as the first day of school approaches?  For me, this is only the beginning of the journey to prepare for the upcoming school year. I promise to update you all on my journey every step of the way in the coming weeks! 

Related Posts:

Change of Season, Change of Clothes  

Save Your Marriage and Money   

Communication 

 

 Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis very candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can also follow along with Travis on his personal blog, Our Journey to Zero. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

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  • I totally agree with you.  My student is in 10th grade, and I have NEVER gone shopping for "school clothes" (and I'm the MOM).  I don't buy new clothes when school starts, as it starts in mid-August here, and the summer clothes still fit and are in good condition.  I replace clothing as needed when it no longer fits or when it is worn out.  I buy very few clothes at all that are not school appropriate, thus negating the need to monitor what my student wears to school.  The school is almost certainly going to go to uniform-style clothing this fall, and I am royally teed off about it.  It will require me to buy clothes for my teen that the teen neither needs nor wants while leaving perfectly appropriate (IMO) clothing in the closet as no longer acceptable.  I do utilize sales as often as possible when I need to buy clothes, though; I'd much rather pay $17 for a pair of jeans than $25.  (Oh, and my student doesn't and will never own $100 jeans.  Not only would I not buy them, my student wouldn't even dream of asking for them, as she not only knows that I won't buy them but also can see that the purchase is ridiculous.  My student is VERY tight with money, so there's not a chance that $100 jeans will ever be in her budget!)

  • Thanks for the great comment, D in IN - Sounds like you're passing along some great financial habits to your student!  I agree, $100 jeans is completely ridiculous.  At the moment, my kids are too young to even care about something like that....but I fear the time is coming sooner than I thought.  When it does, I will be taking the same hard line, and try to teach them about being smart with their money as well.

  • Across America, the sounds of school buses are again filling the crisp morning air. Children run toward the bus stop with backpacks filled with pencil boxes, folders, notebooks, and lunch boxes. School lunch proposes a dilemma for many parents. Should

  • I absolutely agree as well. For so long, I was caught up in that "seasonal" shopping because that's what we are used to doing. For the first time last year (and I got this idea because I honestly didn't have the money at the school shopping time), I did winter shopping in October - which is when it actually starts getting chilly in CT.

    In September, it's still like summer and the stores don't have much winter items out just yet anyway and you might have to do double shopping! Counter productive when trying to save cash!

  • Exactly CTMom!  This article was written before last year's school year, and I'm happy to report that this year's school shopping went very smoothly.  My wife cleaned out and inventoried the kids' closet, and we discussed what was needed.  She took the kids shopping about a week later because there were some really great sales going on.  All in all, with sales and coupons she spent what we budgeted and got what the kids' needed - including school supplies.  The kids are ready for school, and the budget remains intact!

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