Newsome High School students Morgan and Jordyn Adams take their back-to-school shopping lists and ‘shop’ for supplies first at home before heading to the stores to spend money.

It’s no secret that almost all shoppers have seen increased prices on back-to-school essentials. While shoppers still plan to spend money on back-to-school items this season, they are hyper-focused on extending the value of their dollars.

For FishHawk resident Alisa Adams, back-to-school shopping begins on the last day of school, when her children come home with backpacks full of their old school supplies. They quickly sort the pencils, rulers, notebooks and glue into piles for the trash bin or to put in her organized cupboard, where see-through bins of school supplies are neatly stashed and on hand when the next year’s school supply lists come out.

“School supplies are some of the biggest money wasters for families and it’s important to keep track of what you have,” said Adams, a professional organizer and owner of Alisa Adams Style.

She has helped many clients control clutter, and her clients are surprised when they see the amount of usable school supplies she gathers from around their homes.

“When school supplies are organized and in their proper place and you teach your children to ‘shop’ from your supply first, you’ll end up saving money,” she said.

The clear bins also help her see which supplies are running low, so she stocks up when school supplies go on sale during Amazon Prime Day (Tuesday to Wednesday, July 12-13) or at local stores.

The smell of fresh and new school supplies can be tempting. Once upon a time, before she implemented her system, she said every child got new everything every year.

“Ten years ago, I realized I wasn’t teaching my children responsible spending habits, so I came up with this system, and it works in my family,” she said. “I don’t deprive them of a brand-new pencil pouch or notebook if their old one is worn out, if the old one is still in good condition.”

A similar system is used for her children’s wardrobe. Two days after the last day of school, she sits with her two older girls (Morgan and Jordyn) as they go through their closet, sorting all their clothing into piles to keep or go to Goodwill, consignment or donations to other family members.

“It usually takes all day, but at the end of the day, what’s in their drawers is exactly what they’re going to wear,” she said. “If I know they need another pair of jeans and I see them on sale when I’m out and about, I can buy them because they’re on my list and I know I’m not buying things they’re not going to wear.”

Adams comes from a large family, and it wasn’t unheard of for her sisters to send boxes of gently used clothing to her when their own children outgrew them. “When we share what we have but can’t use anymore, it’s a win-win,” she said.

Adams also draws a sharp line between needs and wants. She buys her children what they need, but if they’re in a store and they see a want, her two teenage daughters have to spend the money they’ve earned from babysitting, housesitting, dog walking and nannying.

“I’m trying to teach my children that we need to be good stewards with what we’re earning and spending,” said Adams.

It seems to be working. Her daughter Jordyn said having to spend her own money on clothes makes her think twice about purchases.

“I have to make sure I buy things I’m absolutely going to wear because I don’t want to waste my money,” she said.

Her daughter Morgan admitted that she loves clothes, but her mom has taught her that she doesn’t need to buy everything she sees.

“She’s taught me that I can be completely happy with the things I have and to not focus on buying expensive clothes just so I can be cool because everyone has them.”

For more information about home organization, visit Adams on her Facebook page @alisaadamsstyle.

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Michelle Caceres
MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.