School Savings Tip: Recycle School Supplies to Give them New Life!

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Recycle School Supplies to give them new life! It will save money - and keep items out of the landfill!

How to Recycle School Supplies

It is that time of the year again!  Time to get ready for school.  That can mean backpacks, shoes, clothes and all of those great supplies!  It also can bring stress — mostly on your budget!

One thing many parents are doing is finding a way to recycle school supplies.  This is a great way to not only save money, but bring new life to items that normally may have been cast aside!

Binders.  Take the binder from last year and scrub it clean from marks and smudges.  If you find that the outside is ripped or torn, pick up some fun colored duct tape and create some designs to cover it up!  Add some stickers to the binder and you’ll have a one of a kind binder – that cost you very little money!

Notebooks.  If you ever look at these when they come home at the end of the year, it seems there is always papers left in it unused.  Rip out all of the used papers and toss them into the recycling bin.  If it is a spiral book, clean out the paper from inside of the spiral.  If there is still half of the book left, you can send that to school with your kids to use again.

Backpack.  There is not a need to buy a new backpack every single year.  If you spend MORE up front and purchase a quality backpack, you will end up saving money in the long term.  If your kids do need a new one, wait until mid-September and then buy one as they will be on sale and reduced for quick sale.  Just use some fun duct tape or fabric scraps to repair tears and rips until you can get them a new one.

Pencil case. Every year kids seem to need a pencil case. Rather than buy a new one, just find last year’s box and clean it up.  If the kids want to make it personal, use washi tape or stickers to give it their own special touch.

Pencils.  These get sent home at the end of the school year.  Rather than buying new ones, just sharpen them and add a cap eraser.  You’ll have pencils that still have a lot of writing left in them!

Lunchbox.  Don’t run out and buy a new lunchbox.  Instead, just wash with a mild soap and water and allow it air dry.  If it is ripped, you might be able to stitch it to make it look new.

Scissors.  If you ever notice, kids use the same size of scissors for several years in a row.   Find last year’s and clean them up.If they are dull, you can sharpen them with a sharpening tool.   They will be useable for several years.

If you happen to have any items you can no longer use, make sure you drop them off at your local recycling center.  To find a center near you (and to learn what you can drop off and what you can’t), check out!   What have you done to recycle school supplies?

5 Back to School Hacks for Staying Organized

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With papers, projects and more, it can take over your house when school starts. Check out these FIVE great hacks to keep everyone organized!!!

Kids across the country are already in school or heading back to school shortly. A new school year means, new teachers, tons of papers, new friends and of course the daily assignments and papers for mom and dad. If you’re only a parent of one the paperwork may not seem like too much… but as a parent of three the papers can sometimes seem overwhelming. So how do you keep the kids paperwork and information organized and completed in a timely manner?

We posted this question on our weekly Penny For Your Thoughts post on our Facebook page:  What are Your Back to School Hacks for Staying Organized. Here are a couple of the tips which were shared by our readers.


We have ‘information stations’ in our house. A big master cork board for the calendar and my notes with a clipboard for each kid under it. The kids know that, when they get home, all their paperwork, etc, goes on their information station until mom can review it. After I have looked at it, it goes into their backpack to turn in pure back onto the information station until the due date. That way nothing gets lost! With five kids, you gotta be organized!” – Kerry S.

“I’ve made it a habit that as soon as we walk in the door one of the first things I do is go through the kid’s backpacks and sign their folders (we have to sign them daily). Important events go up on the dry erase board calendar on the fridge.” – Raegan S.G.

Do it the minute you walk in the door, whether it’s right after school, after work, or after practice. Get it done while school is still on your mind. Do one kid at a time. Part of our bedtime routine on school nights is to collect all the books, folders, school library books, etc and pack the backpack to put next to the door. Whatever is needed for the next day goes in there – water bottle for after school sports, projects due the next day, holiday party treats. It’s all there and all ready before bed. Once we started that, the morning chaos was cut in half.” – Lisa B.

“As I teacher, I have a Google classroom page and post all dates and assignments. I give this info to parents as well. It helps when assignments are forgotten, they can print them at home. Check to see if your children’s teachers have something similar.” – Jennifer C.

“Recording important dates, go on the master calendar and in my planner.. school paperwork that needs to be addressed, is addressed right away and put back into their backpacks to bring back to school.. I have a file as well for all school papers that are important and I weed out yearly.” – Mandey R.

These ideas are great and I’m sure each one will work for someone! It can get to be a bit much but it still has to be done, so being organized and efficient is the way to keep up. We’re hoping to make this school year awesome, organized and fun… keep the good ideas coming.

Make sure you watch Facebook each Monday for our newest question and share your ideas.  You may find your name and tip featured each week on Penny Pinchin’ Mom!


Back to School Routine: Getting Organized For A Seamless Transition

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It can be tough to get into that back to school routine. We've got some great tips to help EASE back into that schedule!

Back to School Routine

Back to school is coming up — soon!  It can be stressful to get everyone back into the routine, but there are things you can do to help make a more seamless transition from summer to school.

We actually do all of these about 2 weeks before our first day and it really makes a difference.  It helps their brains focus on the routine that we will have each and every day and gets them use to getting up and getting ready to go!

Plan your shopping trip. See what supplies you have at home before you head out. Might try to save last year’s backpack for a few weeks until they are all on sale. Shop your closet to know what you need. Make a list of the clothes and sizes you should buy for your kids.

Start your Back to School Routine early.  Around 7 – 10 days before school starts, you will want to get your kids into this schedule.  That means school bedtimes and even waking.  Have your kids get up, eat breakfast at their school times and actually be ready to go out the door by the time they would normally leave.

The way we do this is we ease back into that bedtime.  For example, if school bedtime is 8:30 and they are up until 9 or 9:30 in the summer, we start to back down bedtime by 10 – 15 minutes each night so that they get use to going to bed a bit earlier.

The same holds true for the morning.  If they need to be up at 7 for school, but sleep until 8:30, start to wake them 15 minutes early each day, until they are waking at 7 am.

Create a family calendar that is visible. Talking about all of the school activities and events being on a centrally located calendar that the entire family can view and/or update.  That way, everyone will start to watch the calendar and will know what is going on from registration to practices and even that first day of school.

Get papers ready. If you know you have to show residency, vaccinations, health or physical forms when you register, start to work on the list now so that you have it ready when you enroll.

Create a school center. Find an area where you can set backpacks, shoes, coats, etc every day so that they are ready to go in the morning. Each night, get your kids into the habit of putting everything they need there – saves time and chaos in the morning.

Whatever you do to get into your own back to school routine, can help….no matter how big or small!

Five Tips To Help You Ease Back Into Your Back to School Schedule

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Back to School Schedule Tips |


School is staring soon (if it hasn’t already done so where you live).  Whether you start next week or next month, you know how tough it can be for the entire family to move back into that Back to School schedule.  You can actually slowly transition your family to help them change their routine, so that when school starts, you have one less struggle to deal with.  Check out these five tips to help your family east back into your own Back to School Schedule.

Bedtimes.  This is a big one.  During the summer months, we all love to stay up later as we want to enjoy being outdoors and there is really no need for an early bedtime.  This is a big change for kids (and even adults).  Slowly start to move back the bedtime around 5 – 7 days before school starts.  For instance, if your child’s school year bedtime is 8:30 p.m. and during the summer they are allowed to stay up until 9:30, start backing bedtime by 10 – 15 a night until they are back to that earlier bedtime.  Then, when school starts, you will be back to that bedtime and (hopefully) have fewer struggles at bedtime.

Waking up.  This is another one which is tough!  Kids (or at least mine) love to sleep in during the summer months.  This is partly because they can, but also because of those later bedtimes.  As you change the bedtime, you will also want to do the same for waking in the morning.  You will want to do the same thing as you did for the bedtimes.  If your child sleeps until 9:00 a.m., but they will need to be up by 7:00 a.m. for school, start to wake them 15 – 20 minutes earlier each day until they are waking up at their school wake up time.  You might try to do this for at least 1 – 2 weeks before school starts, so your child gets use to waking earlier.

Eating schedule.  During the summer months, you eat breakfast just when you wake up, which may make your lunch and dinner schedules a little off track.  Help your children get into a school eating schedule.  Have them eat breakfast shortly after they wake in the morning.  If you know (approximately) when they will eat lunch at school, start to work that into their routine.  Make sure you have dinner at a decent time, which would allow ample time for baths and homework in the evenings.    This helps train their brain into knowing the times of day they will eat.

Practice your night time schedule.  To help your mornings go smoothly during the school year, it can be helpful for your kids to set out their clothes before they go to bed.  Have them begin doing this a week or so before school begins so they can get into that habit.  Remember that anything you can do at night to make your morning better is always a good thing!

Stay home.  If you can, try to stay at home and do not plan any vacations or trips a week or two before school.  Trips and vacations sometimes take some recovery time (sleep and attitudes) after you get home.  Keeping a simple, stay at home schedule can help ensure your kids are not overly stimulated or tired, which can also help that back to school routine.

What other tips do you have to share?

Ten Simple Tricks To Get The Most out of Your Back to School Budget

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Before you start back to school shopping, make sure you follow our ten easy tips!!!

Back to school.  It is just so expensive – especially when you have more than one child getting ready to start classes back up again.  The average family with kids in grades K-12 will spend an average of more than $625 just to get the items they need!  That really can hit the budget hard.

There  are things you can do to save on your Back to School shopping.  We’ve got ten tips anyone can  use, no matter where you live, to lower your spending.

1. Follow Penny Pinchin’ Mom! Of course this is my first tip!  We are doing all we can to help you get the items you need at the best price possible.  This is the time of the year when we add both an image to our sidebar AND a link in our main menu, so you can find the items you need.

The most popular feature on the site is our FREE interactive supplies database.  You simply type in the product you need to find and we show you this week’s prices (including any coupons) from National stores (like Target, Walmart, Walgreens, etc).  This way, you can compare prices at home.  It is also helpful to know what things cost before you head out!

Back to School Coupons and Deals Database


2. Shop at home first. Before you head out, take inventory of what you have on hand.  One great thing to check is backpacks.  These tend to be some of the most expensive items, so you may want your kids to start the year out with last year’s backpack.  Then, when they drop in price and start to move to clearance prices (in mid-September), go and get one.

Another thing to look at are clothes. Most kids will wear shorts and tees when school starts.  See if the items they already own will work for a few weeks and then, when you really see those summer clothes discounts pop up, stock up!

I also recommend seeing if you can use last year’s supplies.  If they had a scissors, they can use it again.  The pencil box may just need to be cleaned up, but it could be used again this year.  Track down the manual pencil sharpener (empty the shavings of course) and then you’ve got that done.  Right there,  you can find 3 items to mark off of your list – and they cost you absolutely NOTHING!

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3. Follow the sales (also called loss leaders). There is no rule that says you have to do all of your shopping in a single day.  If you see the pencils you need on sale this week at your local store, pick them up.  Then, grab the crayons next week when you find a hot deal.  Keep a list of the items you buy and then, when it is time to hit the store for your final shopping trip, you will only have to grab those few things you need, which may have not ever really gone on sale.

These items that are really low in price are what are called loss leaders.  These are items which retailers know they will make no money, but they are used to get people into the store to do more shopping.  Just grab those items each week and avoid the rest of the other store deals.

4. Use those coupons. This is the time of year retailers tend to release a lot of coupons.  This can make the price of jeans for kids drop to as much as 60% off of retail.  You can find uniform essentials as low as $5 – $6 each.  When you see those coupons, grab those pieces you need!

You can also find coupons for the supplies you need for your kids.  It is common to find Target store coupons which you can stack with the printable and weekly manufacturer’s coupons to get even greater discounts.

5. Share packaging. I have 3 kids.  They all need pencils.  Rather than get them each their own set of 10, I can often find a better deal if I pick a 30 count instead.  We then open and rubberband the number each of them need to add to their supplies for their own classroom.  We find that doing this is often much more cost effective then getting them each their own item.

6.  Price match. Many stores price match, including Target and Walmart.  This year, even Staples offers a 110% price match guarantee.  When you can put this to work for you, it means you can shop at one store and get all of the deals you will find at other stores!!

Just make sure you know how the price matching works at each location before you shop (no need to have surprises when you get there).


7.  Use apps. There are so many great apps including Ibotta and Checkout51.  You can often find a way to get a “double dip” on a deal.  That means you may find the same discount on both Checkout51 and Ibotta, so you can submit your receipt to both and get double the cash back!

8.  Use gift card sites. You can find discounts on gift cards at sites such Raise.  You can purchase regular value cards a discounts (sometimes as much as 20% off).  Then, use those gift cards when doing your shopping!

9. Consider refurbished electronics. This is a great way to get a new computer or tablet for you kids for school – without paying too much.  Refurbished often gets a bad rap as people think it means used.  It simply means that it was purchased and returned.  Once the box is opened, stores can not sell the item as new and must discount it for resale.

10. Get your kids involved. Kids don’t often realize how much items cost.  Set a budget for them so they know how much you will pay for things, such as shoes.  If you can afford to pay just $50 for a new pair or tennies, let your child know that they can get what they want, but they need to cover the additional cost. So, if they want that $75 pair, that means $25 comes out of their own pocket.  That really makes them think before they shop and have to part with their own hard earned money.

What other tips do you have to save on back to school shopping costs?

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Tips To Save on Back to School Clothes Shopping!

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Saving money on school clothes is something we all want to do!  Check out these HOT tips from readers - just like you!!!

The kids will be heading back to school in just a few short weeks and that means school shopping is probably well under way, or soon to be started. If you’re a family with multiple children the costs can add up, so the real question is, what are some tips to save on back to school clothes shopping?

We posted this question on our weekly Penny For Your Thoughts post on our Facebook page. Here are the tips which were shared by our readers.

“My kids love going to thrift stores looking for great clothes. Were there for hrs but get it done. I also buy a few outfits from sales at local stores. And love the online garage sales!!!” – Renee T.

When it is winter I shop clearance for summer and save them. And vise versa. I have been doing it for years now and luckily I have gotten the sizes right every year. This year my 7 year old is excited because I found winter frozen and monster high shirts. I paid 1 dollar for each! Once I did this one year I did it every year! Other than this I will go to retail me not and get coupons and ONLY ONLY ONLY shop clearance!” – Laci D.

“Thrift stores. The kids want to wear their new clothes and it is hot out. I use to buy my kids clothes a season ahead and then would get them out of the tub with the tags on and the kids would be excited.” – Amy W.

“I bought a lot of school clothes from Kmart when they marked down their winter clothes!! Great prices and put them on layaway! Picked up the layaway 2nd week in June! Then my aunt also hits Kholes and Penny’s when they do clearance and coupons! And of course Children’s Place with their sales! All that I really have to worry about now is basics! Really really helps doing it this way.” – Janelle H.

“I sell my kids stuff at bi-annual consignment sales and buy about 90% of their clothes for the next season there as well. Then, I use the remaining money from selling to fill in the holes with a few brand new items.” – Courtney B.

“We shop at consignment stores at bi-annual half off store wide sales, just did this Saturday ended up getting a ton of shirts for .25-.50cents each nice ones too!” – Ryan S.

With havig 6 kids I have utilized Childrens Place more than any other store. I do most of my shopping online and I do a good bit of searching for promo codes before hand. So, I will hit the sales when they do 50% or higher, then I stack my “My Place Cash” (if I have any), and then the promo code. Last week I bought one of my boys 3 outfits and 2 of my girls 5 pair of shorts and I spent $34! I also hit the clearance sales per season for the following year. Luckily, 2 of my boys and 2 of my girls wear the same size in clothes, so that helps to save a bundle!” – Nicky M.

Make sure you watch Facebook each Monday for our newest question and share your ideas.  You may find your name and tip featured each week on Penny Pinchin’ Mom!

Tips for Time Management

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Time management is one are that seems to cause issues for a lot of people. You've got to read our great tips to help you really get the most out of each and every day!!

Time Management Tips



It’s a popular occurrence for people to be super busy these days. Between jobs, school, kids, and the little things in between, it can be difficult to get it all in without feeling like you have absolutely no time to spare. Time management can be a successful tool in assisting you with your day to day routine by opening up time you didn’t realize you were wasting. Below are some great tips for getting started with adding time management to your day.

  1. Make a list – Yes, it takes time to sit down and make a list but it’s worth it. Before the week begins, write down what appointments/obligations you have for each day. Then on a separate sheet of paper, write down the things you need to get done that don’t have a specific deadline. Find your empty spots throughout your schedule and place these deadline-free responsibilities in those spots as desired. Make sure you’re planning the highest priority ones first.
  2. Don’t be lazy – As much as we would love to lie in bed on the days we have off, use these days to take care of a few extra responsibilities. Always take care of the most important responsibilities first or the most pressing ones, that way you can relax on taking care of the others a bit. You will feel much better while relaxing knowing you have nothing that needs to be done.
  3. Don’t procrastinate – This one can get to us all at one point or another. However, it’s the biggest pit fall of time management. Too many responsibilities can get stacked up to where we overwhelm ourselves or make it near impossible to get them all taken care of. If something is presented to you, get it done right then if possible. If not, it will only be one more thing you will have to remember to get done later. Don’t do that to yourself.

Overall, get to know yourself and your habits. Be honest about where you fall short and compensate for that. We all handle our time differently but with a few adjustments, we can all learn to organize our time effectively.

Visit College Ave Student Loans to Pay for College

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college student loans


This is a sponsored post on behalf of College Ave Student Loans.  All opinions are my own and were not influenced by any parties.

College is expensive.  There is no denying it.  Many parents try to save to help defray the costs, but even then, it may not be enough.  With tuition, books and cost of living continually rising, you may think you have enough to pay for it, but may find that you are a bit short.  Where do you go for a loan?  You certainly do not just want to “Google” a site and apply through them.  No.  You want to make sure you visit a reputable site which is there to help you through the process.  That is what College Ave Student Loans does.

College Ave Student Loans is an online marketplace lender whose sole focus is on private student loans.  They utilize both  technology and deep industry expertise to connect families who need to cover education costs with lenders who can provide that funding.   Because they specialize only in student loans, they are are able to give all customers the attention they deserve and deliver loans that are simple, clear, and personalized.

When federal loans, scholarships and grants aren’t enough, private loans are something families can consider to help fill that gap to pay for higher education costs. College Ave Student Loans understands that each family’s situation is unique with how to cover additional college costs – whether they look at paying out of pocket, using savings, trying to find a balance for college and saving for retirement, doing a mix of different payment options, using private loans, etc. Families should explore the best option (or options) for them.

College Ave Student Loans never wants families to borrow more than they should, or to pay more than they need to for a loan They offer a number of lending tools to help students and families make smart and informed lending decisions.

If you are getting ready to pay for college, one tool that you really need to check out is the College Ave Student Loans calculator.  This tool is designed to help students and their families understand the total cost of borrowing and ways to save. College Ave encourages decisions like making in-school payments and picking shorter loan terms by offering lower interest rates when customers make those choices (thus reducing the overall total cost of the loan).

If you do find that you need to take out a loan to pay for college, one thing to consider is this:  Parents can help the students by making the payments while the student is in school.  Then, the student can take over once he or she has graduated.  This is a great way parents can contribute without taking on the entire debt in only their name.

College Ave also offers a unique credit pre-qualification tool. With three simple pieces of information (name, DOB, address), students and their parents can use the tool to find out if their credit score qualifies for the loan, and what rates they can expect to pay — all without filling out a full application or impacting their credit score. It’s a great tool for students, who are learning about how credit scores affect the loan, and for parents who want insight into what they should expect from us. You may wna to check out the pre-qualification tool.

Product Information

Before you make any decision regarding a lender, it is important that you understand their product.  Here are important factors which you should know about College Ave.

  • They offer low variable rates
  • They offer the most choices for when to begin making payments as well as the length of the loan (allowing you to get the perfect plan for your situation).
  • While students do not have to repay loans while in school, doing so can lower their cost.  They even reward those who make good choices by offering lower rates for committing to make in-school payments (payments could be as low as $25/month).
  • There is NO fee if you pay the loan back early.
  • Get a .25% interest rate reduction if you sign up for automatic payments
  • Apply in minutes and get a quick decision


No matter who you chose to go through to make your student loan decision, make sure you do your homework.  Learn what you can about the company and the terms of the loan, so you do not have any surprises.

Check out College Ave Student Loans to see if they are just what you need for your student.

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Homeschooling 101: 14 Tips To Smoother Days

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homeschooling tips

If you are a homeschooling parent, you know that it can sometimes be a struggle to keep things fun and exciting while still teaching your children each daily lesson.  We put together a list of 14 great tips to help you do just that.

We previously posted a series – 14 Days to Smoother Homeschooling.  But rather than you having to track down all of those posts, we put them together her for you.  Just click on the topic and pop on over to read more about it!


We know we’ve scratched the tip of the surface.  What are some of your best homeschooling tips? Please share by leaving us a comment!