So, you have your list and you’re ready to go shopping for back-to-school supplies. Even though it’s stressful, back-to-school time is an exciting time for kids and parents alike. With the right attitude, your kids will be happy to go back to school and you’ll feel as if you’ve done the right thing with the supplies you send them with.
Set a Realistic Budget: The first thing to do is set a realistic budget. The budget should be based on what the school says your child needs, plus allow a few items that your child wants. Keep in mind that you should avoid buying just what your child wants for materials for school, because the school may not even allow your child to use them. Save wants for clothing and extras. Also, make sure that clothing, hair styles and makeup (for older kids) meet your school’s dress code.
Organize What You Have: Before stepping out the door to shop, find out what your child already has that will still work from last year. Also, what will work for your younger child that your older child has already used? Don’t overlook friends and family with older kids as a good resource for hand-me-downs.
Go to Garage Sales and Thrift Stores: Don’t overlook these places to get name-brand items that your kids will like. You don’t have to take them with you or ever tell them you went to a garage sale or thrift store. However, it is good family money management, along with good environmental practice, to avoid buying new unless you must.
Don’t Forget the Dollar Store: Don’t overlook the dollar store for good supplies. They have name-brand items often, but don’t always assume they’re cheaper. A few pennies can make a difference. Use an app like Retail Me Not to ensure that you’re buying the cheapest.
Buy on Tax Holidays: Most communities have a special no-tax date for shopping for school supplies. This is a great time to get those last-minute items but usually, it’s so close to the first day of school that you don’t want to wait that long to find sales.
Use Coupons: You can often get coupons by following your favorite companies on social media, especially Twitter. They send out coupons all the time. Plus, your local Sunday paper, magazines, and stores have coupons too during special times.
Shop in Bulk: When you see a sale and you know it’s a good one of something that doesn’t expire (like notebooks, pens, paper, pencils and so forth), if you have the extra money to do so, buy it up and store it someplace where you can easily get to it for next year.
Watch for Sales: Throughout the year, keep in mind what you’re going to need in the future and watch for sales on those items. The more often you can buy things when it’s planned, the less hit you’ll take on your budget.
Needs Over Wants: One thing to learn and to teach children during this process is that needs are more important than wants. Wants are awesome and should be encouraged because it helps with creativity. But, when the money is tight, the wants should be put aside to cover the needs. There is nothing wrong with that, because we must all think of people who can’t even meet their needs. If we are meeting our needs, we’re the lucky ones.
Using these ideas to stick to your budget to help with financing your child’s school year will not only help your child with school, but it’ll also help you as a family learn to save more, think before buying, and probably create a smaller footprint on the environment without even thinking about it. It’ll all become second nature.