It’s that time of year again. Kids are getting back to the books, and if you’re a smart parent, you will take steps to keep your own books in balance by looking for ways to save while shopping. You get high marks for it in a tough economy.
Start by using the best modern tool available, the Internet. Google your area for deals on everything from school supplies to clothing, to computer ware. And while you’re at it, keep some of these tips in mind:
• Check your school supply inventory. Search the home front for supplies you could already have in store. If you have more than one child in school, you could possess school-related stuff that’s unused or that can be used again like backpacks, notebooks, binders, pens and pencils, etc.
• Put together a shopping list. Random shopping sprees for school supplies can easily result in overspending. As they say, organization is the key. Give some thought to the supplies and clothing that may be required and write up a list of what is needed. It’s a good idea to consult your child or children about the items, but use common sense in relation to their requests.
• Set a budget and set limits. What can you afford to spend on school stuff? Write it down based on the shopping list you have developed. Go over it with your child or children ahead of time so that when you go shopping together, everyone’s aware of what can be spent. Kids may grumble if you cannot exactly meet their expectations; but they will come to respect you for involving them in the adult process, which leads to my next very important tip.
• Stick to your shopping list. Don’t let your children sway you into purchasing unreasonably costly items. Yes, kids are into what’s cool, but they need to understand that what’s cool is not always what’s affordable. Besides, nowadays, with so much value available through retailers, wholesalers, discount superstores, and the Internet, you are likely to find stuff that meets the needs of both your kids and your budget.
• Go coupon crazy. Keep all the sales flyers and coupon sheets that come your way this time of year. Also, search the Internet for coupons you can use in stores in your area. They are everywhere. Again, it’s smart to involve your kids in this process for it helps to teach them about the value of a dollar.
• Think about off-season shopping. Some of the best deals you are likely to come across happen not in the weeks leading up to the new school year but at other times of year when school supplies are not in demand. Keep an eye out for deals all year long, and put them in store for next September.
• Shop and compare. Don’t buy from the first store you visit. Shop around and compare prices. Welcome surprises are likely in store.
As a parent myself, I’ve got a few more suggestions for some back-to-school economizing.
If you can purchase used books, do so. Maybe your school or school district has a used book Web site. If friends and neighbours have kids in school in your area, check with them for used books and other supplies that can be recycled through your own kids. Also, save money on cafeteria food by supplying your kids with tasty, healthy box lunches. Last but not least, be sure you take advantage of student fares/passes for transportation.
Do all this, and you get an A + in home budgeting.