By: Jennifer L. Lopez, Debt.com Financial Fitness Trainer
Get the Supplies You Need at the Savings You Want
August will soon be upon us, and for many, it is the time of year to start thinking about buying school supplies in preparation for the back to school season. Especially for families with numerous children, back to school shopping can wreak havoc on your budget. But there are ways to get the supplies you need while limiting the impact on your wallet.
Stick to the list—Get a current school supply list from your school which details the items that your child needs. Many retailers will supply local school supply sheets in the store if you forget yours.
Do a home inventory—Before you even think about shopping, make sure to do a thorough inventory to check for new school supplies that were never used last year or that were bought previously. You may be surprised at how much that you already have, and it will prevent you from purchasing more than you need. Don’t forget to raid your home office for items, too.
Used can still be used—Make sure to check for items from previous years that may still be in good, usable condition, like backpacks, scissors, rulers, and pencil boxes. Often items can look almost as good as new after a good cleaning. For back to school clothing, you may consider secondhand clothing or uniforms from a thrift, resale, or consignment shop, instead of pricey brand new apparel. Don’t feel the need to supply an entire brand new wardrobe—just replace items or add to the current apparel.
Write your own list—Compare the printed school supply list with what you already have at home, and write your own list of items that you actually need. This organizational tactic ensures that you only purchase what you need, and streamlines the actual in-store shopping process.
Start early—Many people start school shopping early in the season, so later shoppers may be forced to deal with crowded aisles and limited selection.
Shop the sales—There are lots of ways to save when purchasing school supplies. Many retailers offer back to school sales, coupons, and rewards. By starting early, you can keep on monitoring the sales papers for the best prices, and you may want to stop at a few different stores to get the cheapest deals.
Be a dollar store “diva”—Dollar stores can be a great option to find quality school supplies at guaranteed cheap prices. If shopping the weekly sales is too much trouble for you, you may be able to get most of what you need at your local dollar store.
Buy in bulk—See a great deal on bulk lined paper, pencils, or notebooks? Take advantage of the savings, and stock up for next year, too. It is always better to be able to shop at home, and it will save you trouble on restocking the school supplies throughout the school year.
Shop throughout the year—No need to wait until August to shop. After school has already started and throughout the year can bring discounted or clearance school supplies. Stock up as you see them, and save yourself some trouble and money next school shopping season.
Go with the basics—Your child may want a complete back to school set that includes everything plastered with their latest favorite celebrity or cartoon character, but those licensed school products can add up in cost, and are often not of the best quality. Unless the items are on sale, clearance, or your budget can stand it, don’t feel bad about purchasing more basic items with solid colors or patterns. Or maybe they can be treated to only one item that has their chosen motif on it.
There are many ways to save when it comes to school supply shopping, but these tips can help to lead you in the right direction. Smart and savvy shopping techniques can help to minimize the effect that each new school year has on your pocketbook, and help to free up time and money for enjoying the rest of summer while you can.
Do you have some back to school shopping tricks that you rely on? Feel free to share them with us and your fellow readers by commenting below. The best way to learn what works is from each other.