It’s that time of year again, and for a few weeks your life is going to be dominated by the hectic days of getting yourself and your children back into the swing of the school year. But whether your child is going off to college or back into the public school system, one of the biggest worries you have is how much you have to spend just to make sure your child gets a decent education. Never you fear though – there’s simple ways to ensure that you’re not slashing a deep hole into your pocket this pre-school year.
First, quite simply, recycle old school supplies from last year. If your child has scores of old pens and pencils that aren’t broken, dried out or empty, then there’s no sense in buying new ones. If their old backpack or bag is in good condition, keep it – don’t spend thirty dollars to replace something that isn’t broken. Have your child bring unused notebooks, binders, and unfinished reams of paper to school from the previous year as well; reusing these old items or using them for the first time will significantly cut back on how much you have to spend to get new school supplies, even completely cross some items off your list. Don’t forget, communication with your child is key: if you explain that money is tight and you can’t afford to buy all new school supplies, chances are they’ll understand and will be unlikely to throw a fit at using last years things.
Second, embrace deals and coupons. You may feel like your penny-pinching grandmother at first, but you’ll quickly notice how much you’re saving if you keep on top of deals at your local stores by looking at their online catalogs, becoming a member, and/or using coupons. It’s also imperative to keep on top of store-wide deals (such as Tax-Free weekends or large percentage-off sales), so you can get the most out of every dollar you spend. Also, use gift cards wisely – if you can sacrifice that birthday gift for clothes or supplies for your child, you’ll feel a lot better at the end of the day knowing that you won’t have a huge credit card bill looming in your future. One of the biggest tips however is to take advantage of student-aimed deals. If you have to buy your child a new computer or other kinds of technology, many stores and companies (i.e., Best Buy and Sony, respectively) offer lower prices and/or package deals if your child brings a valid student ID at the time of purchase.
Finally – especially if your child is headed off to college – embrace buying things online. Oftentimes you can find lightly used or even new things for cheaper on Amazon or eBay, even when combined with shipping and handling. Large chain stores, such as Walmart and Target, also offer free ship-to-store, which would only require a quick trip to the store to pick up your item if that’s the cheapest price you could find online. The key is to do plenty of research: it would be unfortunate to realize you could have bought that same desk for fifty dollars less if you had just spent five more minutes surfing the web.
The biggest thing to keep in mind while back-to-school shopping however is to stay optimistic. All the time you have to invest may seem a little overwhelming at first, especially with your busy schedule, but it gets easier over time – and won’t a little stress be worth the hundreds you could potentially save? There’s no shame in reusing old things or buying cheaper supplies – your child can still perform the same duties with off-brand supplies, and maybe you can use the extra money you save for a great winter vacation! All-in-all, it pays to be a smart shopper all times of the year – especially back-to-school.