Back to School without Breaking the Bank - 7 Strategies
Here are seven tactics to keep the school supply rush from spiraling completely out of control.
1. Do a closet sweep. Before you go shopping for anything, go through your closets and your various nooks and crannies, and look for items you might already have. For example, there’s no need to buy your child another ruler, or other supplies, if he has them from last year.
Look for unused or barely used notebooks, pencils, crayons, pens, pencil cases, art supplies, folders, glue bottles and other supplies you probably already have around your house if you’re the parent of a school-aged child. The more stuff you already have, the less stuff you’re going to buy.
2. Start your clothes shopping at secondhand stores. Children get bigger and need new clothes. That’s part of having children. The back-to-school season is often the time when parents refresh their child’s wardrobe after they've worn out a lot of clothes during the summer months.
The best place to start, though, isn’t the local department store or the local mall. The best place to start is at a secondhand clothing shop, particularly one targeted toward children. Start there, and you’ll find well-made and nice looking apparel for nickels on the dollar compared to buying them new.
3. Take advantage of tax-free weekends. Many states offer tax-free weekends this time of the year to incentivize families to buy local when shopping for clothes and school supplies. Retailers often offer big sales at the same time. Both put savings in your pocket, so take advantage of them.
The first place to start is searching the internet for tax-free holidays by state. Not all states have them every year, so do an annual check for your state. The list will help you find what tax-free periods are available in your state and in nearby states. Take advantage of those holidays to buy many of the supplies you’ll need during the school year.
4. Visit a dollar store. Most of the supplies children need during the school year – from notebooks and pens and pencils to rulers and markers and glue sticks – can easily be found at your local dollar store.
A dollar store probably won’t cover everything on your list, but it will cover a lot of things at a great price. That’s why it makes sense to start your school shopping there. The more items you can get at a low price, the better.
5. Get your school supply list before you start shopping. Many stores offer copies of the school supply lists for local schools right inside the store, and families tend to rely on them. That’s usually not the best move because it cuts into your chance to comparison shop.
A better approach is to go to the school’s website, and download the school supply list before you do any shopping. First take that list to the dollar store and then any other stores you may want to visit. You can also use that list for online comparison shopping to save a little more.
6. Set clear limits. Your children are going to inevitably want some of the more expensive items that are out there. Your son might want a new backpack more sophisticated than the “Transformers” backpack he had last year, while your daughter might insist on new designer folders.
That’s fine, but set some limits. Offer to buy them the bare minimum items, then give them a dollar amount with which they can choose to exceed that amount – say, $10. So, for example, let’s say your daughter wants a $3 folder instead of the 10-cent cheap folder. That will cost her $2.90 of her “supply allowance.” Keep track of this on a slip of paper so that everyone’s clear on what’s been spent and what’s left.
7. Buy the big discounts in bulk for next year (and the year after). If you do stumble across a super sale on school supplies, there’s no reason you can’t buy up a lot of items and stick them in the closet for next year. Kids will almost always need pencils, pens and erasers, so if you can get them for literally a penny or two, buy a hundred and store them for next year.
That way, when the next year rolls around, you can start at the beginning of this guide with a closet sweep and find yourself with lots of school supplies already in hand.
Now, if you have a full house of children, have used these strategies, exhausted all of your resources, and are still in a bind for money…then you may want to entertain some alternative strategies, such as short-term loans.
If you own a car, even if it’s not completely paid off, you may be able to obtain a short-term loan to get you through the season. Call 714-701-8555 now to get more information about how Coastal Title Loans & Finance can help. Be sure to ask about our 0% First Month Back to School Special!
School supply season can be expensive, but if you apply some smart tactics right off the bat, you’ll take care of your children without decimating your pocketbook.