Budget Bzzzz: Back to School Shopping

When August rolls around every year, it brings a sign that summer is ending and a new school year is beginning. Before kids head back to school, parents have to get them ready by buying new school supplies, clothes and more. Let’s just say all these new purchases can get somewhat costly. However, never fear, there are ways to keep costs down while fully preparing your child for a new year.

Shop end-of-summer sales: It’s very rare that I pass up a good sale. Make sure to take advantage of all the end-of-season sales and stock up on items such as shorts, short sleeve shirts, polo shirts and more. In this area, warmer temperatures can stay until October or November. Your kids will get their wear out of their new clothes, and there is hope that your kids will not have a growth spurt in the middle of the year and will still be able to wear them in the spring and summer.

Stick to the school supplies list: Every year, teachers will send out the supply lists of what their students need. The reason for this list – to guide parents in buying what their children need to be successful in their classes. Stick to the list, and don’t waste money (or time) on unnecessary items. In the end, these extra supplies may never be used. Another tip when buying supplies is purchase bright items to help prevent students from losing their supplies. Pack supplies in a bright colored backpack or pencil pouch, making them easier to notice.

Check the weekly circulars: During this time of the year, stores will have great deals on pens, loose-leaf paper and other school supplies. Be sure to peruse the weekly circulars for popular stores to see which store has the best deals. However, there is one store where you can’t beat their prices – The Dollar Store. Everything is a dollar at this shop, meaning you really can’t find a better deal. Another stop for savings is usually the grocery store. Plus, you can get your weekly shopping done, as well. If at all possible, shop after your kids’ first day of school. This way you can avoid the big school supplies rush and can often shop 50%-75% sales and clearance sales. Don’t forget your coupons. Sunday papers are full of useful coupons, especially at the beginning of school. In addition, look for coupons online. Websites and apps, such as RetailMeNot and Money Saving Mom, are great places to look for extra deals. Lastly, check to see whether or not a store has price and coupon matching options. It never hurts to ask.

Buy in bulk: By the time December comes, most kids will have lost half of their pencils and gone through a handful of highlighters, meaning it is time to replenish school supplies from the original list. Plan ahead and (try to) prevent this by buying in bulk in August. Stock up on pencils, pens, glue, paper and everything else your child might need to get him or her through the school year. If you think you have too many school supplies come December, consider donating them to your child’s teacher or school.

Shop thrift and consignment stores: Remember how I mentioned earlier the hope that the clothes you bought at the beginning of the school year will still fit your child at the end? Well, ease that fear just a little bit by shopping for clothing at thrift and consignment shops. At these places, you can find new or gently used clothing for your child at lower prices. Another advantage is you can sell the clothes your child has outgrown, putting more money in your pocket.

Take stock of supplies around your house: Before even stepping foot into a store, look around your house and see what school supplies you might have in your closets and pantries. Check to see if some of the supplies (backpacks, pencil pouches, etc.) from the previous year are still usable. Round up all the school supplies you can find and designate a place at home to keep until school starts. Think about the basic supplies your child could need. Also, be sure to check in your kid’s closet for clothing. Once you have gone through your home and determined what you have, you can really make a list of things your child needs, preventing you from spending money on things you already have.

The beginning of a new school year is already a stressful time, so why make it more stressful with worrying about how to pay for things? Follow the tips above to make going back to school easier.