Back to School Prep for Large Families

Essential Parent Hacks: Back to School Prep for Large Families

Shopping for a large family is never easy. It becomes especially difficult when parents need to buy lots of things for multiple kids all at one time. Back-to-school shopping can easily cost thousands of dollars, and for many families, purchasing everything all at once is overwhelming or downright impossible.

As a parent, you want to provide each member of your family with everything he or she needs for a successful school year. From graphing calculators and notebooks to stylish clothing that helps them fit in with their peers, the average student has a lot of needs. If you are trying to get a large family ready to head back to school, you may feel like meeting all of those needs simply isn’t possible.

No matter what your budget looks like, though, there is hope. Check out these essential back-to-school hacks to discover how to prepare your large family to be prepared without going broke.

Create a Budget And Stick to It

When you’re raising a mega family, having a budget is a must. Back to school happens every year, and if you don’t plan ahead with careful budgeting, you’ll find yourself needing to come up with a lot of money all at once. Fortunately, you can save yourself a lot of frustration and prevent a financial disaster by creating a budget and sticking to it.

Estimate how much you need to spend per child, per year on school supplies, clothing, sports fees, etc. Divide that amount by 12 months to establish how much you need to set aside per month to ensure that you have enough money to cover back-to-school expenses. Once the time rolls around, you’ll have enough cash set aside to buy what your kids need without dipping into the money that you need for bills, groceries and other expenses.

Get the Best Deals on School Supplies

From pens and pencils to notebooks, folders, and even pricy graphing calculators, kids need all sorts of supplies when heading back to school. And when you have a big family, those expenses can add up fast. Before you head to the store, take the time to make a specific list of exactly what each child needs, and check your home for any supplies you may already have. Kids can swap supplies to have something that is “new” to them without costing you a penny.

Once you know exactly what you need to buy, start paying close attention to back-to-school sales in your area. Many places, including Walmart, Target, and Staples, offer loss leaders at exceptionally low prices to get customers through their doors. Those .10 Crayola crayons and .01 notebooks? Those are the types of deals you should look for. You may need to visit several stores and make more than one trip, but shopping for loss leaders is a good way to stock up on basics without breaking the bank.

Purchase things like pens and pencils, as well as classroom supplies like tissues and dry-erase markers from wholesale stores. It takes a bit more effort to split everything up, but doing so is a good way to save big many types of supplies. Wholesale stores are also perfect for stocking up on printer ink and paper. Sometimes, they even have great deals on big-ticket items like laptops and high-end calculators.

Shop Smart for School Clothes

When you need to clothe three, four or even more kids, the costs can be astronomical. While everyone may want to go out and buy the latest trends, start by clearing out closets and passing down items that one child has outgrown to younger kids (if they are still in good condition, of course). Like searching for and swapping school supplies, exchanging clothes between kids can save you a lot of money.

If your kids refuse to be seen wearing their older brother or sister’s hand-me-downs, try swapping with friends, neighbors, and family members with kids who are around the same age as yours. Your kids get clothes that are new to them, and you save a lot of money. Everyone wins.

Stock up on essentials like blank t-shirts in bulk. Bulk t-shirts are affordable, and they come in a huge range of styles, colors, and sizes, making them the ideal choice for everyone in the family. Whether worn on their own or as undershirts, wholesale t-shirts are a great investment for anyone who has a lot of kids.

When you need to shop for additional clothing, make the local thrift store your first stop. Since kids outgrow their clothes so quickly, thrift store racks are often loaded with like-new or even new kids’ clothing. You can even find popular name brands. If you’re heading to the mall, check for sales and coupons. At the end of the summer, look for summer clothing on clearance. Things like khakis, jeans, and t-shirts can be worn year-round, so there’s no reason to not shop those overflowing clearance racks.

Don’t Worry About Buying Everything All at Once

In most instances, there is no reason to go broke buying everything your kids need for the entire school year all at once. Talk to your kids’ teachers to find out if they really need all 12 glue sticks all at once, or if they’d be okay with you sending in a few at a time throughout the year. Most teachers are actually thrilled to receive supplies at various times during the school year to replace those that have been depleted.

You don’t need to buy all their clothes at once, either. Things like winter jackets and heavy hooded sweatshirts can wait until the temperature starts dropping. In addition to spreading out the cost, waiting until later to purchase items that aren’t needed right away gives you an opportunity to find the best possible deal. Getting a large family ready to head back to school is challenging, but by budgeting, shopping smart and spreading out your purchases, you can send everyone back without breaking the bank.

Finally, if you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Olivia Parker’s other amazing contributions to this site, including:

Written by Olivia Parker

Olivia Parker
Olivia Parker is a full-time, stay-at-home mother of 2 daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, yoga, and spending time with her family. She is also a crafting extraordinaire and frequent contributor to The Bead Traders Blog. Check out another great guest post by Olivia here!

Of course, budgeting conversations are great to have with your loved one too. Money issues can make or break a relationship. If you enjoyed this post, then you may want to check out these creative conversation starters all about money, budgeting, and finances: Conversation Starters About Finances and Saving. These creative questions are designed to help you talk about your finances, think deeply, connect, and grow!

Wishing you happy budgeting and planning!

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at

1 thought on “Essential Parent Hacks: Back to School Prep for Large Families”

  1. Olivia, thank you for another fantastic guest post! With our evergroing family, these tips are super helpful. Our family tries not to buy everyting at once–Jenny is especially good at planning ahead. We found that this works well for Christmas and birthday planning too 🙂

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