UNITED STATES—Parents rejoice, the time of the year that we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. School is back in session and I know some parents are ecstatic about that. Why? Summer seemed to go quicker than I expected. It was like in some parts of the country it took longer than normal to arise and then out of nowhere where the heat was upon us. July moved at a feverish pace and August moved at the speed of light. September is here, Labor Day has arrived and for most students school has started or it’s about to start.

That means back to school shopping. I’m not sure why this is always the case, but it doesn’t seem to change. Parents are always doing that last minute shopping like 2-3 days before school actually starts. The malls will be packed, and those office supply stores will be pulling out all the stops to lure in customers. For me I started picking up office supplies throughout the summer. Why? Um, many of the stores had exceptional sales, so I got steals on plenty of items and saved a ton of money along the way.

For those who wait till the last minute, you might find yourself in a conundrum. What do I mean? You find yourself in a situation where you are spending way more than you want because the items that your kid(s) need are not on sale. Not to mention the fact that the school supply list is so long it’s very easy to break the bank if you’re not smart about where you shop and what you purchase. Also don’t buy more than what you need, but do attempt to purchase a little bit over as a precaution. I always say this about notebooks, because I utilize them like water.

Now school shopping, I know this is something that parents dread for two reasons: 1) shopping with kids 2) not getting great deals. Yes, waiting a few days before school starts to start shopping is not smart. A lot of the retailers are well aware that people will be shopping, and as a result they don’t always have the best deals for the consumer. You might be able to find some steals as I did on Levi Jeans at the Levi Outlet store. I’ve run into a situation where I have so many jeans in my closet I’m afraid to purchase any more out of fear that I might purchase the same item multiple times.

This is good if you’re doing school shopping. For the little ones it’s a bit difficult because they have to try on the clothing and you have to ensure what they’re wearing looks good. For teens, I would argue just give them money and let them shop. However, make it crystal clear that they need to make the money given to them stretch. What does that mean? Don’t go purchase the most expensive item, and at the same time, don’t be ridiculous purchasing items that are too revealing. That is unfortunate we have to teach this to our daughters, but it’s something that has to be done.

There are so many that think you have to do all the back to school shopping in one swoop and that is not the case. Do enough shopping for the first week or two so the basics are purchased, and then a few weeks later head back out to ensure you restock on clothing, school supplies and wait for it school lunches. That is probably the worse if you’re dealing with those in grade and middle school. Packing lunches and ensuring you purchase items that are actually going to be eaten and not just sitting in the lunch pal, unopened when they arrive from that long day at school.