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Back to School Money Saving Tips
Lessons from a Former Teacher and Current Mother
There was a time when a back to school list consisted of a box of crayons, a pencil and some paper. It seems the “needs” of your child’s school supply lists can at times feel ridiculous. The bottom line, knowing how and when to shop for Back to School Supplies, might not make you dread the never ending list of supplies.
Take inventory before you go shopping
Nothing stinks worse than paying full price for something that you have tons of up in the closet. Go through the list carefully and find out what you can use from the previous year. Also take a look on what you have in supplies. I keep a bin in my gift closet labeled arts and crafts and school supplies. This saves on future lists. You might be surprised what you have on hand.
Take advantage of mark downs
Don’t shop right away! Wait. When the school year gets rolling, retailers are ready for Halloween and Christmas – they have to clear the shelves and will begin to see back to school merchandise go on “mega-clearance.” Grab what you can at reduced prices and put them away at home for the coming years or to replenish your supplies halfway into the year. Focus on the staples and not the peripherals. Book bags may not be in style the next year, but pencils, pens, paper and notebooks will always be needed. When items go this low, this is when I stock up for next year. Next August, you might find you need nothing on your list because you have it all already.
Save larger purchases for tax-free sales
If you intend on buying higher ticket items like a laptop or a scientific calculator, make sure you save those purchases for tax free day if possible. That alone can save you hundreds depending on what you buy. Also consider looking for big purchase items on Craigslist or Consignment Area Facebook Groups. *Use wisdom when buying from these places online. Never meet someone at your home or alone.
Stick to a list
Take the grade list that is provided by your school and stick to it like glue. What kills parents during back to school shopping are the funky extras that kids are excellent at begging for. If your child comes to you begging for that troll pencil topper with neon green hair, just say nay! They will get over it, I assure you. Stick to the budget and list and you will save money.
Invest in quality
When it comes to certain items, it pays off to buy quality. Book bags that are simply a base color are great examples. If you buy a high quality one, you might get extra years out of it. The same goes for calculators and other electronics. Pencils and paper can be any quality and it won’t really matter. They will be lucky to still have those at the end of the first day. I also tell my shoppers, it is better to buy one quality pair of shoes than three cheap pairs.
Saving money on back to school is simply about paying attention and taking advantage of the opportunities that are out there. Use wisdom, buy then then price is right, and stock up!
Find more on Frugal Coupon Living in the Back to School Series.
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