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Tips for controlling back to school costs, chaos and clutter

From a paper sorting system to folding clothes, the owner of home organizing company Simplify Buffalo offers advice, tips and tricks to get ready for Back 2 School.

AMHERST, N.Y. — As a busy Amherst wife and mom of three boys and the owner of the home organizing company Simplify Buffalo, Amy Wopperer controls the chaos in her own home by setting up 'Back to School Systems.' 

"One thing I know a lot of families struggle with is all the paper that starts to come home with back to school. So my number one tip is to have a place that it's going to land," Wopperer said. 

She has a basket for each child and a basket for general school paperwork, and sorts them everyday.

"And I recommend doing the paper sort with a recycle bin nearby so as soon as it comes in the door, you're making the decision what stays and what goes. The things that are 'maybes' go in the baskets and then you can go through them halfway through the year or at the end of the year for what's really an item to keep," she said.

Wopperer also has a routine for the kids at the end of the school day to control the clutter: they start at the Drop Zone.

"The kids storm in the door at the end of the day and drop their backpacks and things are all over the place and the next morning they can't find what they need. So my tip is to create a drop zone so everyone knows where their backpack goes, where their lunchbox goes. Have a designated spot and then hold your kids accountable to actually put their things away and then find them the next morning," said Wopperer.

And to avoid the inevitable morning argument about clothes, Wopperer uses drawer dividers and folds the clothes in such a way so they can be stacked vertically and easy to find.

"I find folding the clothes in a way they're displayed vertically is much easier for kids to see what they have. And they can pull out what they need without other things getting out of place." 

Bonus tip from Simplify Buffalo's newsletter: Simplify your morning routine.

"You'll never regret any prep work you get done the night before. Fill water bottles, pack lunches, and set the coffee pot to auto-brew so you don't feel behind to start your day.

"Lower the bar on breakfast expectations (a quick bowl of cereal still counts!), and depending on your kids' ages, set the bowls of cereal out the night before so they can prep their own breakfasts."

As for tips to save money on school supplies, Wopperer says before you shop the stores for school supplies, shop your own home first. 

"Check what you already have on hand. I think you'd be surprised that you forgot what your kids brought home in June and you might still have glue sticks and crayons and things. And you can just shop your own house and you can save money by not needing to buy that at the store," she said. 

Wopperer's next tip is to team up with other school families to buy in bulk.

"If you can buy a pack of glue sticks in bulk and you can split it amongst your kids or amongst a neighbor that has a kid a similar age that needs that item, then your dollar is going to go further."

Her final money saving tip? Join a local Facebook group like "The Buy Nothing Project" where neighbors give and get stuff for free. 

"Say your kid needs a graphing calculator, I bet there are 10 other families in the community that are looking to get rid of a graphing calculator. So you can just ask. Put the request out there. And then someone might have one to donate to you. And you can pass it along when you're through with it. So it's a really great way to save on those bigger items, because someone has it laying around in their house. I guarantee it."

For more helpful home organizing tips, sign up for the Simplify Buffalo newsletter at SimplifyBuffalo.com

Call or Text Amy at 716-218-0138 or email simplifybuffalo@gmail.com.

Visit Simplify Buffalo on Facebook here or Instagram here.

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