A MUST READ For Moms Buying Used This School Year

buying used this school year


For the past few years, I’ve been the mom buying second-hand items during back-to-school shopping. While we fought our way out of $81,400 in consumer debt, I chose to forgo the traditional August spending spree. As I wrote the article What To Buy Now To Save Hundreds This School Year, I had an epiphany that I wanted (more like needed!) to share with all the other moms buying “used” this school year.   

To The Mom Buying Used: Please don’t feel guilty. You’re buying better quality items for less and you’re setting your family up for a bright future at the same! 

Let me explain what I’m talking about by sharing the story of the pottery barn backpack. Buying clothes second-hand had become so second-nature in my house that my kids barely know the difference between Once Upon A Child, Goodwill or Target. When my daughter gets a compliment on a cute dress or nice top, she loves to say, “Thanks! I got it at a yard sale!” (No shame in her game.)

So the used school clothes didn’t bother anyone. Things got sticky when I started to look into purchasing my daughter her official school backpack.

I won’t lie, I had a pretty pottery barn backpack in my virtual shopping cart more than once to give my daughter for her first day of Kindergarten. I pictured how cute it would look in first day pictures. I told myself that even though it was over $50, she would use it for years. We would definitely get our money’s worth. Plus, my daughter was only to be in Kindergarten once. It was now or never. She deserved it. I deserved to be able to give her what she deserved. We all deserved it.

I was one click away from getting swept up into the American spare-no-expense back-to-school spending spree.

But I stopped myself and remembered my goals. I refused to go into more debt over things that weren’t essential. So I closed the browser and stepped away from the computer screen.

A few days later, I took my daughter to Goodwill for a short list of final school items. And wouldn’t you know, I found a very gently used purple butterfly pottery barn backpack. The same backpack that I was seconds from buying for 90% more!

what to buy for back to school

Best of all, it was $3.99. I couldn’t believe it! 

I took home the backpack and washed it well. My daughter enjoyed the backpack every day for her entire Kindergarten year and it is still in great condition.

Every time I look at the backpack, I’m reminded that if you really want something, you can almost always find it second-hand. Let someone else take a hit on the price and you enjoy the benefits. There are so many resources nowadays that you can find almost ANYTHING used.

Here Are My Favorite Resources For Buying Used

1. Goodwill – I can’t even tell you the number of good quality items that I’ve bought at the local Goodwill. Did you know that Goodwill picks a color of the week and all items marked in that color are 50% off? This is where I found my daughter’s backpack.

what to buy for back to school

2. Local Facebook “For Sale or Trade” groups. I’m part of 4-5 Facebook yard sale pages. This is a great way to search and buy local items from local people that you can vet on social media before meeting in person.

3. Craigslist. I’ve already talked about how half my furniture is from Craigslist. This no thrills website can save you a ton of money!

4. Once Upon A Child. (or other local consignment stores!) I love the high-quality items that this store carries. I also love that they give you cash on the spot for your used items. I always raid the kid’s closets before a trip to the store, and sometimes I earn enough money to pay for what I want!   

Don’t go into more debt to get what you want. If there is a will, there is a way. I challenge you to buy used this back to school season and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the cost savings and the high-quality of the items you find!

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  1. I go to garage sales and find the best clothes, shoes and accessories for my daughter! Not only are my purchases are for pennies on the dollar, but I find tons of unique items I would never find in my local stores. I also never bothered with back to school clothes shopping because it is still hot enough for summer clothes for the first 2 months of school!

    And I 100% agree with getting better quality brands. If I bought new clothes I would only have the budget for Walmart clearance. I get all name brands at garage sales–sometimes as low as a quarter an item!

    • Wow, a quarter?! That’s a great deal! I agree with yard sales clothes vs. Walmart clearance too. MUCH better quality. Thanks for sharing!

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