Mrs. Broke Architect’s Back to School Shopping Lessons

Seeing that Mrs. Broke Architect and I do not have children, I believe that it would not be right to tell people how to handle their back to school shopping issues. We did not have to look into the sad eyes of a child this upcoming school year and inform them we only have a limited amount of money to budget for back to school shopping.  So, this blog post will come from the childhood of Mrs. Broke Architect.

Back during Mrs. Broke Architect’s school age years, her parents openly shared the family’s financial ups and downs with their children. At some point when their children became old enough, my in-laws decided to allow their children to manage their own back to school shopping. Now to be clear, this was before they were old enough to work, so her parents did provide them with money to allow them to do the shopping themselves. The beauty of this approach to back to school shopping is that each child received cold hard cash to complete their shopping.

Yes, they were allowed to select and purchase their own clothing without supervision. I am sure my in-laws laid down some ground rules before they sent their children to mall. But can you imagine being 13 or 14 years old and being told, “Here’s some money to do you back to school shopping”. According to Mrs. Broke Architect, she and her bother both received $150 to buy back to school clothes. I won’t say during what decade this occurred, but let’s just say that it was not so long ago that $150 could fill your closet. Not only was $150, a very tight budget for Mrs. Broke Architect but what I did not mention was that her little brother was and is fairly tall and he wore a size 13 shoe in high school. I bet it was tough buying a school years’ worth of clothing when a pair of sneakers can cost $100—even back then.

Now that I have given context to this story, let’s review the lessons Mrs. Broke Architect learned as a child from this process:


Mrs. Broke Architect quickly learned that she had to figure out how to stretch the money her parents had given her. So as a young teenager, she realized that by taking inventory of the clothing she had in her closet this ensured that she only bought items that she needed. To this day Mrs. Broke Architect still inventories her closet before we do our annual shopping trip.

The process of taking stock of your belongings works so well that I adopted the process. It has proven to be very useful for any and all types of shopping. It has helped me to avoid buying duplicates of many items such as clothing, shoes, tools, cookware, and home décor.


Mrs. Broke Architect is an excellent bargain shopper; I have always admired her ability to stretch a dollar. When Mrs. Broke Architect goes shopping at the mall or online, she has a process that is enforced before she buys anything:

  • She makes a list of the items she needs, similar to a grocery list
  • She takes inventory of what is in the stores she plans to buy from
  • She compares the cost of similar items in different stores
  • She narrows down the items she wants to buy
  • She purchases all the items that she wants and that are within her budget


These are skills and processes that she learned thanks to her parents. Because her parents shared their financial situation and allowed them to shop within a budget, it  taught Mrs. Broke Architect and her brother how to shop wisely. They also taught them a larger lesson about being a good steward of the money that was given to them.

Can this story change the way your family handles back to school shopping?

Without sacrifice there is no growth

The Broke Architect

(-$14,000 negative)

1 thought on “Mrs. Broke Architect’s Back to School Shopping Lessons

  1. It worked well for my children too. It gives a better concept of $, what’s really need instead of just wanting and there are different alternatives to shop for quality and bargains. They seemed to respect their purchases more too.

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