PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When confronted with a large school supply list, staying on budget becomes difficult.  But one Northeast Philadelphia mother of five is in the Land of No Choice and can offer some good advice.

Gina Gorski’s children are fourteen, ten, nine, five, and three years old.  How does she do it?

“Lots of hand-me-downs, and I buy the year before,” she says.  “After school starts and Walmart and Target have their copybooks on sale for a quarter, I’ll go and buy $10 worth of copybooks.  Because each child generally needs between five and six copybooks per year.”

Some of her children are in parochial school, some in public school, pre-school, and pre-K, so she saves the school supply lists because they don’t change very much from year to year.  That way, she says, she can prepare for the next school year with plenty of time to shop carefully.

But sometimes, Gorski notes, the least expensive version of an item is not always the most economical.

“Schoolbags.  While you think you don’t want to spend $40 for a schoolbag, you could at least use it for two years.  If you buy the cheaper schoolbag, then you are lucky to get through one year.”

clark laura durham Part 3:  A Mother of Five Shares Her Tricks

(Laura Clark. Credit: Michelle Durham)

Laura Clark, vice principal and sixth grade math teacher at Nativity of Our Lord School in Warminster, Pa. (right),  agrees.  Still, she says, let your child have some input in the decision-making.

“I think it’s important that you have the kids help pick things out so they feel part of the process.  Actually give them the list and help them personalize things — like a folder, to help them get excited,” Clark advises.

And Gina Gorski, the mother of five, says it always pays to be prepared.

“Always buy extra,” she advises, “because in the middle of the school year you’re not going to be able to find that odd six-inch ruler.  So I always buy two or three of everything, and this way if they don’t use it then I have it for the next year.”

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060