Sharpen your pencils and break out the binders: A new school year has begun. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, parents will spend an average of more than $600 per child to prepare for the upcoming school year. However, with a few tweaks, this number can be slashed without sacrificing anything your child needs.
School Supply Scavenger Hunt:
- Before you hit the stores for crayons and glue, have your kids search your house for supplies that may have gone unused inside junk drawers, craft boxes, office drawers and even in their own rooms.
- Make a game of it! Set a timer, and the person that finds the most supplies wins!
- You will be surprised how many supplies you have around your house that can be directly applied to the needs outlined on school supply lists.
On the discount hunt – from supplies to clothing:
- Shop back-to-school sales, and watch carefully for one-day sales or even sales that only last several hours. Print out coupons or watch for mailers offering more discounts.
- Don’t forget “dollar stores” – they can be a great place for basics like pens, crayons, markers, notebooks, etc.
- Better yet, hold off until after school has started, (around Labor Day) and cash in on even deeper discounts as stores try to move out back-t0-school merchandise to make room for fall products or fashion.
- Shop throughout the year for staples you’ll need every year. See a deep discount on computer paper or three-ring notebooks? Grab them then and stockpile before the rush.
Don’t confuse needs and wants:
- Go into shopping with a complete, and firm, list of needs. Stick to your list, and your budget.
- Purchase only supplies needed, or set a strict limit for each child on fun extras they desire.
- Use this time to first clean out their closets and drawers, having them try on everything to see what still fits and what needs to be replaced.
- Create a list of clothing needs, and see what you can skip until later in the season.
- Reuse items from last year – like backpacks and lunchboxes, if still in good, working order.
Save money post back-to-school rush:
- After the school year routine has settled in, make sure you’re still looking for ways to save.
- Pack lunches with non-perishable items. If you’re child doesn’t eat all the lunch, repack the non-perishable items for use the next day.
- Set out a jar for loose coins, contributions from your children, and other extra money to pay for school fees and other extracurricular costs. Not only with this fund help pay for unplanned expenses, it will also show your children how to save up for needed expenses.
- Couldn’t bear to buy the latest sneakers in time for school? Use this desire to teach your child budgeting: Have them work for, and save, an allowance to be used towards the purchase of whatever item they desired. This delayed gratification, and willingness to save for a budgeted item, can teach them a lot about future financial decisions.
For more financial tips on how to save on back-to-school expenses, here are a few articles from national news sources for reference: