Back to $chool $hopping as a teachable moment for toddlers?

How do I instill money awareness into these little guys when shopping carts are overflowing at Old Navy and boxes of mini fridges are piled high in Target?

First Day of School Last Year
First Day of School Last Year

Milo and Holden are in a year-round preschool. Of course they grow from year to year so we are not entirely immune to the “season” that has become the second biggest shopping time of the year. Here are a few of my strategies for navigating Back to School while trying to teach my toddlers a few lessons about frugality. I would love to know what works for you.

#1 Make what’s old new again
I have joked that having two boys is the “ultimate in recycling” — Milo is the benefactor of many of Holden’s old toys and clothes. Back to School Shopping for him means that I find all the 2T and 3T clothes that Holden outgrew and put fresh labels in them. Make needed repairs and extend the life of favorite clothes.

#2 Stock up for next year
When the shorts go on sale, buy some for next year in a size bigger. I picked up a cute set of Christmas jammies last January. Sometimes, I guess their upcoming sizes wrong and sometimes I forget I bought these gems, but it seems like a pretty good plan!

#3 Garage sales are our friends, teaching empathy (kinda)
The other week, Holden helped us choose a few toys he had outgrown to sell at the preschool yard sale (unfortunately, he chose toys that were still perfect for his little brother so we had to do most of our culling work after bedtime). We sold many of their baby toys (that was bittersweet!) and a few household items. Both kids understand, on some level, that when we’re done with things, other families can still use them.

#4 Garage sales are our friends, scoring great deals
When we identify a need or a want, we turn to Craig’s List or Berkeley Parents Network or even a yard sale before we rush off to buy something new. Our kids see us doing this. In exchange for two carloads of donations, we picked out a roomba, some clothes, a few puzzles, and a toy helicopter. Some of the bigger ticket items in our house have been picked up on Craig’s List (thank you TV guy and Rock Band dude).

Let me know what works for you in the comments!