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How to Save Money on Back to School Shopping

schoolNow that the summer is almost over, it’s time to start thinking about getting the kids back to school. They are going to need new school supplies, and many will need new clothes as they’ve likely outgrown those from the year before. No matter what age your child is, there are a few ways to make sure that going back to school doesn’t cause you go into credit card debt.

For children in elementary school through high school, work with the school to find out what is expected of them to bring each day. Will they need new notebooks? Will the school provide a tablet? Are there uniform costs? Having all of the information will help make it easier to create a budget.

Take inventory of what you already have. Maybe you bought too many notebooks last year, or there are some barely used folders and notebooks from the last days of the previous school year. There’s no need to buy supplies that you already own. If you don’t have any, see if any friends or family with recent graduates have school supplies that they don’t need. There are many supplies that can be reused, like staplers, pens, scissors, and other craft supplies.

There are always a number of back to school sales at office supply stores and clothing stores. Set a budget and stick to it – don’t let yourself impulse shop. The flyers you get in the mail are invaluable at a time like this, because they’ll allow you to compare prices for many items while also providing coupons. Make sure that you research the best places for the type of back to school supplies you need, as prices will vary from shop to shop. The store with the cheapest notebooks might have the most expensive binders. If you are willing to drive from store to store and make a list of what you plan to get at each place, you’ll end up saving more money.

If your children need new clothes, there are ways to save money and not buy an entirely new wardrobe that they’ll just outgrow next year. Host a clothing swap with local families from the school. There are many kids who have outgrown their clothes that are now the perfect fit for your kids. The clothing that your children have outgrown can then go to other students, saving them money as well.

You could also shop at a local thrift store for your needs. They sell many children’s clothes at a fraction of the price, and all you need to do is to wash it before they wear. If your children are in need of new furniture, like desks, thrift stores are also a good source. At the end of the summer, you’ll find many yard sales in your area, too. Scour those for good deals on clothing and furniture.

Most importantly, be practical. This will set a good example for your children, as they will observe and learn how you spend money. Does your child really need the fanciest brand name clothes? Do they need crazy fun pens, or will plain black and white ball point pens work just as well? You can save yourself a bundle of money simply by ignoring fads and avoiding trends.

Here are another few tips for August shopping:

  • Does your state offer any tax-free days? You can save money by shopping during these special days.
  • Buy in bulk. If you have multiple children, you can save by buying one extra big box of pens rather than separate smaller boxes for each child.
  • Let your kids take part! If you have a list of items, and a set budget, allow your children to do their shopping and gain a better understanding of how spending works. Tell them that if they end up spending less than is allotted, you’ll split the difference with them.
  • If you wait a few weeks after school starts, you’ll find retailers are looking to offload the inventories they brought in for back-to-school sales. This is a great time to find a bargain, so save some of that budget and be patient.

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