Inspired by a jaunt around the blogosphere and trying to avoid thinking about the real stress-inducing event in my life.
One blogger wrote that school supplies can REEK HAVOC on your budget (Sorry, I know I have my fair share of typos too, but this one is funny. No link for obvious reasons). Over the past ten or so years of parenting, I have found that school supplies remain one of the great deals of the back-to-school season. Notebooks and 10-packs of pens for a dime. Lots of 4 for a $1.00 and 2 for a $1.00 specials. In fact, I stocked up so much that I refrained entirely this year, since I have a big bin chock full. Miss Em took a bunch to college yesterday and there's plenty left for next semester . . . and beyond.
As for backpacks: just get the one from LL Bean with its lifetime warranty. My late father said You are paying for the warranty. In other words, it's built into the price. So use it! Frugal Son got his in 4th grade and has had one replacement; the zipper on Miss Em's second one just started messing up and so will go back.
Tip 1: Get the LLB credit card for free monograms and shipping. I suggested this to a student who was mooning over the catalog before class. She said, "But I already have too many credit cards." I said, "Just use it for this one thing and never use it again." She looked dubious. An alternative would be to find a friend who has the card and will order for you. I did this for a friend.
Tip 2: Miss Em went off to college with a box of school supplies. College bookstores are not the place to buy your supplies, except in case of extreme emergency. One blogger recommended waiting till you got to school for supplies. Big mistake, in my opinion. Take advantage of the sales now. Best ones are at drugstores like CVS and Walgreens (Walgreens is better, usually). Those companies have been in a death match for a few years, so take advantage!
Tip 3: Back to school supply sales only happen once a year. So, for your college student, stock up for second semester, or second and third quarters.