Saving Money and Back-To-School
This September, both of my children will officially be in school. It’s hard to believe time has flown by so fast, but it’s also hard to believe how much money I’m expected to spend on school supplies.
Since the beginning of August has now crept up on us, we will begin to see the back to school fliers and advertisements. Now is a good time to start scoping out deals. Whether your kids are starting kindergarten or heading off to university this year, it’s possible to find a deal on supplies. Here are several tips to help you become a savvy back to school shopper this year.
1. Check your Closets
Believe it or not, you might already have plenty of school supplies lying around your house. Closets, desk drawers, and basement bins might hold hidden treasures that can save you money.
Start by rounding up all of the office and school supplies you already own. Put them in a central location, like a plastic bin or on the dining room table, so you can make a list of what you have. Keep this list in your purse, or in the car, so you don’t forget it when you shop for school supplies.
In addition, go through your kids’ closets and start sorting. Clothing that the kids have outgrown, and worn clothing, should be donated or tossed. Once you complete this “supply sweep,” you’ll have a clearer picture of what you actually need to buy. Ideally, the sweep will prevent you from buying something you already have on-hand.
2. Shop at Garage Sales, Thrift Stores and Dollar Stores
Start hitting up garage sales for everything you need. It takes time, but you can score some incredible bargains this way. You can also ask friends and family members to keep an eye out for you, while they shop at garage sales. I was at a community garage sale this morning and I saw all kinds of school supplies, from lunch bags to back packs to beds (for college students).
You can also find awesome bargains at thrift stores. Clothing is dirt cheap, and many stores run sales specifically for parents shopping for back to school items. Start early, though. The selection will be picked over by the first day of school.
You can get some incredible bargains on school supplies at the dollar store. Really! Start shopping in the summer months. You never know what stores will order, or how long items will stay in stock. You can buy basic supplies, like notebooks and pencils, for a great price at the dollar store.
3. Set Limits
As your kids grow older, they will insist on having the “latest and greatest.” Although your kids crave these items, these products will quickly destroy your back to school budget. So, set limits with your kids, and speak with them about money-based values. If you start teaching your kids about money management at a young age, they will grow up to understand and use these values.
4. Use Coupons
Start looking for coupons. If you don’t want to drive everywhere, keep in mind that many stores, like Walmart, offer price and coupon matching. If there is an item that you need to get at a specific location, such as Best Buy, call ahead and ask if they price match, or have any upcoming sales. It never hurts to ask!
5. Make Them Work
What do you do if you’ve set limits for buying specialty or high-end items, and your kids still clamour for expensive back-to-school items? Make them do chores to earn their own money to buy these items.
Most of the time, when they have to spend their own money on something, or put their own hours into making enough money for a purchase, they will take better care of the item.
6. Watch Your Timing
As you probably already know, the big rush to buy school supplies occurs in August. If you avoid the peak time and buy after the rush, when items often go on sale for 50%-75% off retail prices, you can save a lot of money.
Keep in mind that this will likely limit your selection. But if you don’t need specific items, you have an excellent chance of scoring some great deals by shopping after the rush.