Friday, July 30, 2010

Savvy How To: Back To School Savings

Savvy How To:
Back To School Savings

It’s almost back to school time again – where did those lazy days of summer go!  Each week as I search the sale ads, I’m reminded that school supplies, clothing, backpacks and lunchboxes will shortly be required for that big yellow bus ride on the first day of school.  The checklist of needed supplies may seem overwhelming and outrageously expensive, but don’t let these purchases give you F’s (Financial Frustration)! 

Inventory Check:  First things first – you need to take stock of what supplies you already have. I buy extra packs of pens and pencils every school season – even notebooks and folders when they go on sale for ridiculously low prices.  I store them in a designated closet for future use throughout the school year and inevitably I always have leftovers.  Scavenge the office supply drawer/closet in your home and check off any items you’ve previously purchased so you don’t spend more than you really need to on supplies you already have on hand.

Recycle:  Rulers, scissors, pencil boxes and the like should not need to be re-purchased each school year.  Recycling as many of last year's purchases as possible will save you a pretty penny.  And recycling isn’t just limited to stationary items.  This will be the third year in a row my daughter has used her cute pink backpack. I bought a sturdy backpack at 75 percent clearance several years ago and just wash it as needed.  It has held up amazingly well and still looks like new! And no one said you had to have brand new pencils, pens, markers or crayons on the first day of school. This is a perfect time to clean out that junk drawer full of pencils and pens.  A pencil is a pencil – as long as it writes and has an eraser it will be sufficient.  If you’re worried your kids will feel badly that they’re using a slightly used writing instrument remember, once they’re sharpened they all look used and no one will know the difference! And, as my mother-in-law says, “Make do or do without.”

Make A List:  Just as in grocery shopping, make sure you take a school supply shopping list with you to the store.  Shopping without a list usually means buying extra items you really didn’t need.  And somehow many of those items never get returned to the store — they just sit around waiting to be used.  Once your list of essential buys is inked out, make sure your kids know you’re sticking to the list and your budget!  With thousands of pop-star themed notebooks and glittery gel pens for sale, it’s almost like taking your kids to the candy store.  Shopping without children is always my preference – it’s always cheaper and less stressful than hearing “Oh – I want that one, can I have that one pleeeeeeeeeease, pretty please?”

No Frills: When I was in school I actually looked forward to cutting up brown paper grocery bags to use as book covers and then decorating them with colored markers.  OK, I think I’ve just dated myself with that comment, but kids really don’t need designer stretchable book covers and a rainbow collection of glitter gel pens. Truthfully, that designer cover won’t make your child any more friends or come close in determining their self-worth.  Money can’t buy everything.  Stick to the basics and save your money for the impending braces! 

Limited Time Sales: Right now is the perfect time to stock up on school supplies! Stores are competing with each other for your business like no other time in the year.  By offering huge discounts on everything from pencils to paper, retailers, and even grocers, are vying for your back-to-school dollars.  Take advantage of these amazing deals and stock up when possible for next year's supplies.  Pencils and paper don’t go rancid or get weevils.  Buy a few extra if it’s in the budget and get a head start for next year.  And don’t forget to check back in September for all the back-to-school clearance sales.  All that extra stock of glue and crayons is quick reduced for up to 75 percent off savings!

Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to being broke!  Saving money on back to school items is as easy as 1+1 = 2.  Try these simply ideas and get back to school without breaking the bank!

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