August transitioned us to fall, to school, to a more sedate pace. The guests all went home, the kids are back to their regular and rightful bedtime and I pulled out my tacky fall decor.

Don’t Forget about Property Taxes!

My August sunflowers!

Last week I shared the details of our mortgage pay-off and this week brings our annual property tax expense. For truly, the gifts of home ownership never end ;). Property tax is one of those things that varies by state, which can make it a super relevant element when considering where you want to live long term.

We discussed this earlier in the month in Eve and Gordon’s Case Study, as they’re house hunting in five different states. I know most people bemoan their property taxes, but I view them as a way to contribute to our community: our schools, our roads, our community services. It’s a lot of money, but it’s put to good use. You kinda get what you pay for with property taxes and I’m grateful for all the social services our state provides.

Advertiser Disclosure: Frugalwoods partners with CardRatings for coverage of credit card products. Frugalwoods and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers at no extra cost to you. Here’s a boring (but important) explanation of how Frugalwoods makes money. The credit card links in this post are affiliate links.

The Other Stuff of Life

The rest of our August expenses were the quotidian pieces that end up making a life:

  • Sisters

    The truck broke down and had to be towed to the mechanic.

  • The kids needed backpacks, lunchboxes and masks for school, all of which I failed to find used (and let me tell you, I looked).
    • Following an exhaustive online backpack search, we ended up with backpack/lunchbox combos from Walmart that were super affordable–$27 for each set, which is far cheaper than anything else I found (affiliate link).
    • For kid masks, I really wanted nose clips, double layers and adjustable ear loops. Following another exhaustive online search, we got the Crayola School Mask Pack. The size small was initially too big for Littlewoods (a certified shrimp), so I washed them and put them through the dryer. This shrunk them down to the perfect size for Littlewoods’ little face. The nose clip is perfect for keeping it in place on her face, they’re super soft on the inside and the adjustable ear loops are ideal.
      • Unfortunately, neither the small nor the medium size fits Kidwoods correctly (the small’s too small and the medium’s too big, even after washing and drying). So I initiated another search…. and came up with these, which don’t have a nose clip or adjustable ear loops, but they fit pretty well, they’re soft and, crucial to Kidwoods, have unicorns and rainbows. I tied the loops in the back to make them fit a bit better, but I have to say, the nose clip and adjustable loops are a better option for small faces.
  • The chickens needed food.
  • The people needed food .
  • Mr. FW needed new muck boots and got this pair, which have a short top making them ideal for summertime when it’s really too hot for our full-length insulated mucks (affiliate link).
  • We needed a new mesh bag for our apple cider press because it’s apple picking season (affiliate link)!
  • In honor of how fancy we are, we needed this ice cube tray for making ENORMOUS square cubes, perfect for dropping into your Vermont Manhattan, which is a regular Manhattan with maple syrup and orange peel added (affiliate link).

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

I use a free online service called Personal Capital to keep track of our money: our spending, our net worth, our investments, our retirement–everything!

My forest fairy

Tracking expenses is one of the best–and easiest–ways to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it or how much you have. If you’d like to know more about how Personal Capital works, check out my full write-up.

Without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a must, folks. No excuses. Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for me to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth.

If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized fashion, you might consider trying Personal CapitalHere’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital (note: these Personal Capital links are affiliate links). 

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

We buy everything we can with credit cards because:

  1. It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where a random $20 bill went; it all shows up in our monthly expense report from Personal Capital. I spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense listed at the end of each month. .

  2. We get rewards. Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, Mr. FW and I get cash back as well as hotel and airline points just for buying stuff we were going to buy anyway.
  3. We build our credit. Since we don’t have any debt, having several credit cards open for many years helps our credit scores. It’s a dirty myth that carrying a balance on your credit card helps your credit score–IT DOES NOT. Paying your cards off IN FULL every month and keeping them open for many years does help your score.

For more on my credit card strategy, check out:

If you want a simple cash back credit card, here are some good options that don’t have annual fees:

Glamour Shed with the earliest hints of fall

1) Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a hierarchy of cash back percentages:

  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases
  • Earn 20% back on purchases in the first 6 months of card membership (up to $150 back)
  • Earn $100 back if you spend $2,000 within the first 6 months of card membership

2) Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card:

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Earn $200 if you spend $500 or more in purchases within the first three months of card membership

3) Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card:

  • 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
  • Get $200 if you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

4) Chase Freedom Unlimited:

  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards.
  • 3% cash back on dining and drugstores.
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back, rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • Earn $200 if you spend $500 in your first 3 months from account opening
Littlewoods’ first day of preschool!

If you’re interested in travel rewards, a lot of people love the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which currently has its best offer ever! You can earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The best way to find a credit card that’ll work for you is to search for it yourself; I have a guide to help you do just that: The Best Credit Cards (and Credit Card Rewards)!

Huge caveat to credit card usage: you MUST pay your credit card bills in full every single month, with no exceptions. If you’re concerned about your ability to do this, or think using credit cards might prompt you to spend more, stick with a debit card or cash. But if you have no problem paying that bill in full every month? I recommend you credit card away, my friend! (note: the credit card links are affiliate links).

Cash Back Earned This Month: $41.04

The silver lining to our spending is our cash back credit card. We earn 2% cash back on every purchase made with our Fidelity Rewards Visa and this month, we spent $2,051.89 on that card, which netted us $41.04.

Not a lot of money perhaps, but it’s money we earned for buying stuff we were going to buy anyway! This is why I love cash back credit card rewards–they’re the simplest way to earn something for nothing.

To see how this adds up over the course of a year, check out this post: The Easiest $486 I’ve Ever Made: How To Use Cash Back Credit Cards To Your Advantage.

Where’s Your Money?

Kidwoods’ first day of kindergarten!

Another easy way to optimize your money is to use a high-interest savings account. With these accounts, interest works in your favor as opposed to the interest rates on debt, which work against you. Having money in a no or low interest savings account is a waste of resources–your money is just sitting there doing nothing. Don’t let your money be lazy! Make it work for you! And now, enjoy some explanatory math:

Let’s say you have $5,000 in a savings account that earns 0% interest. In a year’s time, your $5,000 will still be… $5,000.

Let’s say you instead put that $5,000 into an American Express Personal Savings account that–as of this writing–earns 0.40% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,020. That means you earned $20 just by having your money in a high-interest account.

And you didn’t have to do anything! I’m a big fan of earning money while doing nothing. I mean, is anybody not a fan of that? Apparently so, because anyone who uses a low or no interest savings account is NOT making money while doing nothing. Don’t be that person.

Be the person who earns money while sleeping. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.

Yes, We Only Paid $29.70 for Cell Phone Service (for two phones)

Our cell phone service line item is not a typ0 (although that certainly is). We really and truly only paid $29.70 for both of our phones (that’s $14.85 per person for those of you into division). How is such trickery possible?!? We use the MVNO Ting (affiliate link).

What’s an MVNO? Glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway: It’s a cell phone service re-seller.

MVNOs are the TJ Maxx of the cell phone service world–it’s the same service, but A LOT cheaper. If you’re not using an MVNO, switching to one is an easy, slam-dunk, do-it-right-away way to save money every single month of every single year forever and ever amen. More here: How to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill with an MVNO: I Pay $12 a Month*

*the amount we pay fluctuates every month because it’s calibrated to what we use. Imagine that! We only pay for what we use! Will wonders ever cease.

Expense Report FAQs

  • Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Check out How We Manage Our Money: Behind The Scenes of The Frugalwoods Family Accounts
  • Don’t you have a rental property? Yes! We own a rental property (also known as our first home) in Cambridge, MA, which I discuss here.
  • Why do I share our expenses? To give you a sense of how we spend our money in a values-based manner. Your spending will differ from ours and there’s no “one right way” to spend and no “perfect” budget.
  • Are we the most frugal frugal people on earth? Absolutely not! My hope is that by being transparent about our spending, you might gain insights into your own spending and be inspired to take proactive control of your money.
  • Wondering where to start with managing your money? Take my free, 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge. If you’re interested in other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.
  • Why don’t you buy everything locally? We do our best to support our local community and buy as much of our food as possible directly from our farmer neighbors. Our town doesn’t have any stores, so we rely on online ordering and big box stores for necessities. The closest stores are 45 minutes away and Mr. FW goes once a month to stock up on what we can’t get from our neighbors or online.

But Mrs. Frugalwoods, Don’t You Pay For X, Y, Or Even Z???

Wondering about common expenses you don’t see listed below?

If you’re wondering about anything else, feel free to ask in the comments section!

Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in August:

Item Amount Notes
Property Taxes $9,728.94 Annual property taxes for our 66 acre property, home, barn and sheds
Truck repair $634.04 The truck broke down and needed to be towed to the mechanic’s. The neutral safety switch broke and needed replacement.
Groceries $611.73
Beer, wine, liquor $340.75
Household supplies $243.64 All the riveting accoutrements of life, including laundry detergent, soap, backpacks and lunchboxes for the kids, craft/art supplies, toothpaste, etc, etc and so forth (affiliate link).
Restaurants $168.73 Getting this back down to a pre-pandemic normal-ish… 😉
Bulk organic rolled oats (50 lbs) $106.11 We now order our organic rolled oats through our local co-op. This is a 50 pound bag along with a few miscellaneous groceries I picked up while in the store. These are cheaper and the quality is better, so I’m thrilled!
Gasoline for cars $91.13
Chicken supplies $79.45 Chicken feed, mealworms and a diesel can (for diesel, not for chickens)
Internet $72.00
Pizza farm night $68.87 We went out for pizza with friends at a nearby farm that hosts weekly summer outdoor pizza nights! With live music!
Short muck boots $67.20 Mr. FW’s had his eye on these short muck boots for awhile now and I convinced him to splurge (affiliate link). Can’t put a price on dry, mud-free feet!
State inspection for the truck $62.07
Masks $55.94
C02 refill (20lb canister) $38.69 20 lb CO2 refill for our custom Sodastream hack. This’ll last about six months.
Oven thermometer $37.69 New internal thermometer for our oven, which broke. Thankfully Mr. FW was able to repair it himself, which saved us the considerable cost of labor.
Ethanol-free gas for our small farm engines $36.21
Utilities: Electricity $30.48 We have solar (which I detail here); this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
Home phone service (8 months worth) $30.00 8 months of home phone service through our VOIP provider
Cell phone service for two phones $29.70 This is so cheap because we use an MVNO called Ting (affiliate link).

MVNOs resell wireless service at discounted rates (but it’s the same service). MVNOs are the TJ Maxx of cell phone service.

If you’re not using an MVNOcheck out this post to see if you can make the switch. The savings are tremendous.

Parts to fix our wood splitter $16.50 Hose clamps for Mr. FW to repair our wood splitter, which was leaking oil
Cider press bag $12.71 A new mesh bag for use in our apple cider press (affiliate link). Apple picking season is here!!!!
Ice cube tray $11.65 Mr. FW upped his bartender game and now has these fancy large whisky ice cubes (affiliate link). We feel very high-end.
Post office $4.20 Stamps and mailing a package
Total: $12,578.43

How was your August?

Advertiser Disclosure: Frugalwoods partners with CardRatings for coverage of credit card products. Frugalwoods and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers at no extra cost to you.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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  1. Having split logs with both an axe and a wood splitter, I have to say what an ingenious invention the wood splitter is.

    Curious if you have AAA? When I drove my 2001 Civic it was well worth the expense (about $70/year). Now that I have a 2019 Civic I’m not sure it’s quite as necessary but I’ll probably keep it for the peace of mind. We usually make several out of state road trips a year to see family.

    1. It’s refreshing to read that someone else feels as I do about property taxes. I also live in Vermont and grew up here as well. I’m retired from 30+ years in Human Services, and I’m well aware of the social safety net Vermont provides for the less fortunate and the vulnerable. It’s not perfect but compared to other states with lower property taxes it’s quite generous. I worked for several years in Florida for both adult and child protective services and I was struck by the contrast to Vermont. My property taxes there were much lower than they are here but the tradeoff is one l’ll gladly live with.

      1. I feel just as you do! For my property taxes, I get nice roads, police protection, library books, schools, and so much more. I am so grateful!

      2. and don’t u pay a state income in VT vs Florida… SOcial safety nets can be highly abused..Do we really knowwhere the $$$ really goes???

    2. Megan, see if your insurance offers roadside assistance! Mine is less than $2 a month and the few times I used it, the help was faster and better than what I got when I had AAA!

    3. You might want to check if your auto insurance offers ‘roadside assistance’. I had State Farm for 30+ years before I realized I had that built in. They cap it at $50 per issue, but that might be enough to unlock a car or get part of a tow paid for.

  2. Re: masks for the smallest of people – do you think these Crayola masks would work for a teeny just-turned-two year old? This wee girl of friends is at the very bottom of the charts but eventually she’s going to need masks. Any thoughts?

    1. Littlewoods is about the size of a two-year-old (hello 1%) and shrinking them in the dryer totally worked! But, not sure it would work for someone even smaller. Thankfully, the ear loop adjusters and nose clips also make them fit a small face better. Good luck!

  3. I got a pair of tall muck boots for FREE and in great shape! I had mentioned to a friend I was thinking of getting some, and she saw a pair at the end of her neighbor’s driveway for FREE and in my size! Woo Hoo!

  4. My oldest started Kindergarten this year as well! Then the governor mandated that masks be worn all the way down to age 2 in the daycare setting, so we had to go on a mask buying spree for both kids. I wound up settling on the Crayola packs as well. They fit the older one pretty well (he’s tiny, but if he has a growth spurt this year we’ll have the same trouble you have), but they’re still far too big for the 2 year old. I couldn’t find anything that would fit her because she’s the size of a 15 month old. I wound up going with the “well…. something is better than nothing” mentality.
    How are the backpacks holding up? We had a coupon and got a backpack with that to save money, but now I think that may have been a bad idea. Two months into school, and it’s already falling apart. I think we may have to “invest” in something with better construction for Christmas or for next school year, at the latest.
    Also, would you be willing to give an update on how it’s going with the rental property? DH and I are considering that as a passive income source, but we’re still doing our research on it.
    Can’t wait to hear about this fall’s cider fun! 🙂

    1. The struggle is real with tiny masks!! Littlewoods is about the size of a two-year-old and I was so thankful that shrinking them in the dryer actually worked! So far, the backpacks are doing great–I’m really impressed with how well-made they are, considering how much cheaper they were than all the alternatives I found. The rental property is doing great–we like our property manager and tenants very much and it’s cash flowing well.

    2. If you’re having trouble finding a good backpack, try Pottery Barn Kids. They do cost a little bit more than the Walmart ones, but they put them on sale frequently. They are having a warehouse sale right now, I think? Unless I’m remembering wrong, I paid around $35 for my son’s last year and he’s on year 2 of using it and it still looks fantastic even though we’ve washed it and he’s rather hard on it.

      1. Year 8 of using our PB, but Lands End one even older has literally been all over the world besides multiple kids using it and looks almost new.

  5. I am also a Vermonter and recently did a both frugal and wise thing – had a forester come to do an evaluation and enrolled in Land Use. We have over 100 acres and I wish I did it 20years ago! It decreased our property tax while giving us a plan for our piece of rural Vermont heaven on earth. The lower tax bill also helps as I am now a retired Vermont teacher and my husband is a retired Vermont law enforcement. We paid off our mortgage 12 years ago. With all the ups and downs surrounding employment and this pandemic, it has been a great peace of mind knowing we are debt free. Like you, we heat with wood. We also have 6 huge gardens and a greenhouse for food.

    1. Yes, so smart! We are also enrolled in Current Use (for most of our acreage) and it’s a great program, especially if you have a lot of land you don’t plan to build on.

      1. Would you consider a post about that? I had never heard of it before! We only have 22 acres but I’m going to try and find out more about this/if we could lower our taxes!

  6. I love Lands End backpacks and lunch boxes. High quality and guaranteed for life so if anything breaks, rips they replace it for free.

      1. The L.L. Bean guarantee was never a “lifetime” guarantee. It was a quality guarantee without a time limit. The intention (and the wording) was that if something didn’t meet expectations, it could be returned. Unfortunately, too many people abused this generous policy (returning a backpack after 10 years of use because a strap finally wore out, or requesting replacement slippers after 3 years of daily wear), so they had to put a reasonable time limit on their guarantee. I do wish the guarantee was longer for things that should reasonably be expected to last more than one season (e.g. backpacks, shoes).

  7. For masks for tiny humans. Our daughter is 2 and below the 10%, and we find the Athleta kids masks work great and she is able to keep them on at daycare.

  8. The best place to buy backpacks and lunchboxes is Lands End ! Look for sales and coupons, end of season sales. My sophomore son has been carrying the same backpack since 7th grade. My 6th grade daughter got a new one this year because her old one (carried 1st-5th) was not big enough for all of the stuff needed for middle school. If something happens to the bag (zipper breaks) you can send it back for replacement. Lunch boxes are great as well !

  9. Liz, are you doing yoga these days? I recently got back into yoga after a few years of not really finding much time for it. Wow! I had forgotten how good it feels to practice regularly.
    Also, I found some great masks on Etsy for my six-year-old.

    1. Yes to yoga! It is so relaxing to do it without two kids climbing on top of me, fun as that was…. ;). These days I’ve loving the free Core Power Yoga classes on YouTube, of which there are tons! What are you using?

  10. I bought an inexpensive Target backpack for school previously and it did not hold up very well, so I upgraded to LL Bean Original Bookpacks for my elementary schoolers this year. After two months of use they still look brand new. I’m hoping they last more than one year. I’m curious to hear how your backpacks hold up!
    I mentioned it above but the Vistaprint “kids” sized masks are very small, they fit my 2 year old & my friend’s 2 year old very well! The have adjustable ear loops and a bendable nose piece.

    1. Agree 100% about L.L. Bean. My son, who’s now in college, has a duffle bag from L.L. Bean that- I kid you not- he’s had since he was three years old! No rips, no tears, nothing! I’ve also run it through the washing machine several times and have let it air dry. Love the quality of L.L. Bean products!

  11. My daughter is in her 3rd year of college and her LLBean backpack has only minor damage. She started Kindergarten with it.

  12. When my kids were in Kindergarten I bought them backpacks and lunch boxes from Land’s End. They lasted until 6th grade when a bigger backpack was needed.

  13. I highly recommend clearance priced LL Bean backpacks. They last forever and saves money. As a teacher, I really love how they can have initials or names on them so it’s easy to know whose backpack it is at a glance.

    1. Also, my mom bought me an LL Bean backpack in 8th grade and it survived daily use in high school, college, grad school, and now on occasional hikes or activities where I need a backpack. It’s been perfect for 23 years now.

  14. Fun fact – you can buy a pack of 100 mask ear adjusters on Amazon for less than $10 and add them to any mask you like!

  15. You may want to consider looking at amazon for stick on nose strips for masks. I’ve bought them for myself. They are thin metal strips with a backing that works off so you just stick it on the front of the masks. They hold for a few washes. But they’re relatively inexpensive (maybe $5 for 100) . I don’t know if they have a kids size—but I love how they help keep the masks close to your nose.. Good luck and stay well.

  16. Curious about your VOIP home phone service. Have you written about this? We use Vonage for its international calling capabilities but it has gotten steadily more expensive and call quality is often suspect.

  17. I’ve made and given away more than 1,000 masks for our kids, neighborhood schools, coworkers and little free library with nose pieces and adjustable straps. I would be happy to send some for your girls if you email me your mailing address. I have two young daughters, so we have plenty of sparkly unicorn and rainbow fabric around here 🙂

  18. Being deployed in the desert with nary a bottle of bourbon in sight, this article made delightful reading just with the mention of a Vermont Manhattan. I wonder if you could dedicate some time to exploring the feasibility of a Vermont Old Fashioned or Vermont Mint Julep. The results will no doubt rate publication in a high impact journal like ‘Science’ or ‘Nature’.

  19. Yea for school:) My kindergartener wore the exact same dress as Kidwoods on her first day of school this year. What are the odds? Hand me down? oh yes! Congrats on paying off your mortgage! It’s a milestone we hit this year too, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.

  20. VT property taxes are steep. We sold our VT house and bought a house for twice the price with the same tax in slake George. I love VT, but we were looking to trade up and I can’t stomach any more high Northeast taxes. We have a house in CT, and I agree you have to look at it for schools, safety services. In CT our roads are not so good but three out four ain’t so bad.

  21. Hello, long time reader, first time commenter.
    First I have to say I love your blog! You are a great writer and very funny too, so I love to come here and check the last few articles you published every few months.
    I would be very interested in knowing a bit more about why Mr Frugalwoods decided to pull the trigger and FIRE this year (congrats on that by the way!). Like many readers I hope to retire in a few years but I feel actually doing it will be difficult. No more money coming-in, worried that I will be bored after a few years, etc… it would be great to understand a bit more his decision and what he plans to do in the coming years. Thanks!

  22. I really want to try Personal Capital but it just makes me so darn anxious to give them allllll my info. It just doesn’t feel safe!

  23. It is SO hard to find backpacks and lunchboxes in good preloved condition! Luckily I found my old backpack from when I was a kindergartener. We’re using that for our preschooler right now!

    Question: How did you get Mr. Frugalwoods’ insurance to last the rest of the calendar year?

  24. I feel you on property taxes. Our mortgage is actually quite reasonable but once you add on the property taxes? Whew! But was have great services, schools, roads, public spaces, playgrounds, economic development … Like you said, you get what you pay for and we’re cool with that. Our state has a Homestead Tax Credit while prevents the county from raising your property taxes more than 1% a year. Since we plan to stay here until we are old and grey, that made it a total win for us.

    1. Sorry, 10% (at the max) on the homestead credit. And that increase applies only to the appreciated value, not the full tax value.

  25. I’m surprised you had trouble finding used backpacks. I find them all the time at yard sales. But your rural yard sale scene may be different from that in our area. In fact, I found 2 super cute ones last spring for free in a pile of yard sale leftovers. My kindergarten and 2nd grade daughters were thrilled when I pulled them out this fall.

  26. You know how you did disposable diapers? Well… I did cloth diapers but dropped off the sustainability wagon with masks, and am going with kf94s or kf80s for my 5 year old. The “comma comma kf80 from kollecte usa” and “blue kf94 small from be healthy” (with the tiger) both fit well, have wired noises, stay out of her mouth, and don’t require that she breath harder to get air. So… I’m just going to throw those recommendations out there. Yes, it’s weird that you have to order them from Korean beauty supply companies. Also, kind of weird that the USA refuses to test children’s mask effectivity.

  27. Jansport also has great backpacks and a great warranty. We still own backpacks that our kids (now young adults) had through school. I have sent them in for repairs (free) and had excellent service. I like a company that will do repairs.

  28. As your girls get older, I also recommend Vera Bradley. Beautiful designs and extremely durable! I recently got rid of a Vera Bradley bag I bought and originally used as a diaper bag for my son 18 years ago. I currently have a very sleek, solid black quilted book bag that I have carried to work every day for over a decade….I have overloaded it, slung it around and generally abused it and it is still in great shape!

  29. You may luck out, but my sister kept plowing through walmart backpacks with her kids (they fell apart), so we opted for a backpack from Landsend. We got one for my older daughter (age 7) when she started prek, so she is now on her 4th year of using the bag. I believe we paid $19 for it (she also has a lunch box from Landsend that we bought for $11). They often have 40% off your order coupons and you can use that discount on items already on clearance, so the price reduces substantially. When our younger daughter (age 3) will get her big sister’s backpack for preschool or prek (not yet sure, depends on her needs) and we’ll move a size up for the older one’s bag. The bag is still in fantastic shape and they Landsend has a Lifetime Warranty, so I see no reason why we wouldn’t be able to get 8+ years out of it between the two girls… and then we’ll pass it on to someone else!

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