Back to school can be a stressful time for parents as well as children. It can seem that the expenses are adding up everywhere, with no end in sight. From kindergarten until graduation, parents are trying to figure out the best times to shop, and the best places to find deals. You don’t really need to go far to get the best prices, you just need to know where and when to look.
Before heading out the door and running to the local sales, check out what you already have about the house. Many times you will already have paper, markers, rulers, glue, pencils, and pens. When children are younger, they don’t care about things being new or not, as long as they can use it. When children are older, they may be more concerned with newer things. When this happens, the at home items can be used as backup, later in the year. Eventually, they will be needed. Another way to convince kids to reuse items, to to jazz things up. Help the kids decorate backpacks and notebooks to give them a new feel.
After you have figured out what you already have, make a list of things that you need but don’t have. The internet gives us a huge advantage when shopping, so use it. Search for online stores for great prices, but make sure to compare them to local prices because they aren’t always a better deal. Then compare local advertisements both from your newspaper and online store sites. Remember that Walmart will match local advertised prices as long as a price is stated. This will make part of your shopping a one stop trip, so take the newspaper advertisements with you. Also, look online for coupons. A coupon for 25 cents doesn’t seem like much, but they can certainly add up.
Now it’s time to get in the car and go, but how do you save once you are actually there? First, make sure you stick to your list. Getting a ton of unnecessary items can cost a fortune. Check out the competition, such as Target, Walmart, Office Depot, and even Dollar General to compare prices on items that aren’t in your advertisements. For some items, quality isn’t going to make much of a difference, but for others, buying quality will help you save in the long run. A quality backpack can last several years as opposed to one year. Quality pens that won’t leak or run dry quickly, and binders that don’t bend and break, can last all year instead of being replace every few months. When it comes to more disposable items, such as notebooks, don’t waste money on the fancy themed notebooks. They will be used up and then trashed, so spending that extra dollar for each one ends up being, literally, thrown away.
Most states have tax free holidays, which could be the perfect time to do your shopping. Just remember that most parents are thinking the same thing, so be prepared to go early to make sure the items you need are still available. However, if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, you may want to do your shopping before the big rush.
Involving your children in the shopping experience can be beneficial because it gets them excited about school. But what do you do when they want all the expensive, fancy items? You can try giving them a small budget to get the few things they feel they ‘have’ to have. Another option, for teens, is allowing them to pay the difference between the item you would purchase and the item they want. With younger children, allow them to have a few options with their supplies. Something as simple as picking between the yellow notebook and the green notebook gets them psyched for starting school.
Remember to buy for the whole year. Buying just enough to get through the first month of school will cause you to spend more money in the long run. When you find a really great deal, for items that your child will need for years, buy in bulk. Are they having a ‘buy one get one’ sale on Elmer’s glue or mechanical pencils? Go ahead a scoop up a few packs. They may not get used this year, but over the next few years, they will.
Saving a few dollars here and there can really add up. Shopping around for the best deals and knowing when to spend the extra money can save tons of money in the long run. Stick to your list and your budget, and this will be a school supply shopping success!