Buying school supplies on a $25 budget

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HARTLAND (WJRT) - (08/08/16) - Back to School shopping for two kids, without breaking the bank. It isn't easy, and Katy Clark admits she did it all wrong the first time around.

"Now that I have two, and I'm a little bit older and wiser, I realized that there's lots of tips and things you can do to save money," Clark said.

Clark calls herself the "Experienced Bad Mom." She even writes a blog with the same name, and now she's ready to share her mistakes and savings strategies for buying all of the supplies your kids need.

"There's no such thing as a perfect mom, so I might as well have a little fun with it," Clark said.

We caught up with Clark at the Hartland Meijer. She says always check individual store apps and RetailMeNot for sale prices before leaving home, and then set a budget.

"It's actually not that much. I would think this year, maybe $25 a kid," Clark said.

Clark brought her kids, 12-year-old Will and 9-year-old Sydney, with her, making things a little tricky.

“If you can, try and get out of the house without them. Leave them with your spouse or grandma, because the kids are going to want the sparkly things," Clark said.

Her first mandate is to stick to the school-provided list.

"We're going to just get what we need and get out," Clark said.

Tip two, save big by using what's already in the house.

"They got backpacks last year and they're in great shape, so we don't need to buy backpacks this year. My daughter already has a pencil box, scissors, colored pencils from last year that she can use, so we're set," Clark said.

Tip three revolves around avoiding celebrities and cartoon characters.

“We have a Taylor Swift notebook for $1. You don't need to pay $1 for a notebook, where over here, you have a regular notebook for 17 cents," Clark said.

That ties in with number four - if possible, go generic.

"Twenty-four pencils for $1.99 versus a name brand, 24 pencils at $2.99. You're going to obviously get the store brand. Same thing with the folders. Name brand is $1.99, but the Meijer brand, 50 cents each," Clark said.

The fifth tip is that buying in bulk can be deceiving. The biggest box isn't always the best deal.

"Here you get 60 pens for $6.99. Right around the corner, 10 pens for $1. You can get six of these for $6. Same brand and it's cheaper to buy them in smaller packages," Clark said.

Finally, at number six, don't be afraid to tell your kids the most dreaded word in back to school shopping.

“No. We’re not getting that. No," Clark said.

When it was all said and done, with her daughter Sydney’s school supplies, Clark managed to come in well under budget.

“$11.76. With a $25 budget," Clark said.

While Will's shopping experience is still a work in progress, there was $13.24 left over from his sisters’, for who knows what.

"Something fun," Will said.

"Hopefully. Maybe dairy queen," Katy said.

"I could live with that," Will said.

For more Back to School tips from the "Experienced Bad Mom," click the link in the 'Related Links' section of this story.

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