Back to School Tips

August 20, 2014

It’s back-to-school time again! Where did the summer go? In just a few weeks we’ll be sending the kids off to school for another busy school year. With back-to-school time often comes the parental dread of purchasing all of the necessary supplies to send them off prepared and in style. With a little pre-planning and elbow grease back-to-school time doesn’t have to be stressful.

First things first, take an inventory of what you already have and what you can repurpose. Not everything needs – or should be – brand new. Spend an afternoon going through your children’s closets and having them try on clothes. Do the clothes fit? Are they in good shape? Do they meet your schools dress code? There’s no need to buy what you already have or items that are not allowed at school. Dress codes often change from year to year so it’s a good idea to know what is expected before you spend a penny. Make a list of the items that they have that are in good shape for school, wish list items and items that you know they will need. Do the same with your school supplies.

Make a list of items that you need and commit to only purchasing the items on the list. Now that you’ve spent the elbow grease taking an inventory of closets and desks, you should have a good picture of what is needed. Add those items to the list and don’t forget to add any new items that the teacher may have requested your child have to start the school year. Teachers typically provide lists of needed supplies and a book list either at the end of the school year or a few weeks before the start of school.

Create a budget of what you can afford to spend. Many families spend hundreds of dollars per child for back to school time. If you set off on a shopping spree without a plan, you’re sure to blow your budget. Enlist your children’s help in the budgeting and purchasing process to teach them valuable financial skills. Have them help you estimate the cost of needed items and then set out together to find items that fit into that budget. If your child finds that special backpack that they can’t resist, but it is over the budget, explain that purchasing that item would mean that they may need to compromise on another item in order to stay within the agreed upon budget.

Another great way to save is to take advantage of local consignment shops or host a clothing exchange. Consignment shops are often riddled with practically new treasures that your child would love for an amazing price. Many families with children of similar age’s find that children love to exchange favorite clothing items with friends. These items may not be new but they don’t have to be. Sometimes “new to you” is just as good.

Lastly, look for the deals. Not all sales are created equal. Have a plan before you leave the house. Scan newspaper and online deals to get an idea of what your favorite stores are offering. Take advantage of coupons in the Sunday paper and on the retailer’s websites. You can also look for downloadable coupons and coupon codes on popular sites such as www.RetailMeNot.com. Countless retailers are willing to match competitors’ prices and some even offer cash or credit back based on the amount of your purchase. Many times if you opt to sign up for mailings or put your name on their email list, you are able to take advantage of special customer offers and sales.

Remember, you don’t have to purchase everything at once. It may be better to strategically space out your purchases throughout the year. It’s not only easier on the budget, but it also helps to ensure that your child won’t grow out of all of their clothing at once. This strategy also allows you to take advantage of sales that will be offered after the mad rush for back to school shopping.

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