Back to school shopping is often very exciting for children. They are excited about buying new supplies and school clothes in preparation for the year ahead. For the parent, however, it's often a big financial burden and can cause a great deal of stress. If you're one of those parents, you might be able to relieve some of that stress by decreasing your spending and create an opportunity to start teaching your kids about saving money.
How? Below are a few helpful tips and hopefully a few takeaways to help with your savings!
As summer comes to an end, it's time to prepare to send your kids back to school. This can be an expensive task, especially if you have multiple children who always seem to want the latest and greatest. The overall back to school spending per household last year averages around $688, which is an increase of $125 from 2007. That's only for an average elementary student, having a student heading off to college is an even greater expense. Most people don't have that kind of money just lying around to spend, but still want to give their kids everything they need for the upcoming year. By using these tips, you can learn how to become a savvy back to school shopper and get your kids what they need without breaking the bank.
Take time to Plan
Before even thinking about what you need to buy, do a sweep of your house for any supplies you might already have. Check in closets, desk drawers, bins, or any places you might find old or forgotten office supplies your kids could use. In addition to this, go through your kids closets. Look for any clothes that are outgrown or worn that should be donated or thrown away. At the end of your sweep, you should have a much better idea of what you actually need and hopefully you can avoid buying items you already have.
Now that you have a better idea of what you have, you can start creating a must-have list. Another helpful hint is to wait until you get the lists from your children's teachers before trying to figure out what you need. Other extra items may seem cute and be tempting due to the back to school sale advertisements, but realistically, anything extra will probably end up sitting in a desk or at the bottom of a bookbag all year.
Shop at Consignment and Thrift Stores
Consignment stores are a great place to buy good quality and even brand name clothes for cheap! You can also sell old clothes found in your sweep for a little bit of extra cash. Not only are thrift stores great for finding clothes, but they might also have gently used binders, bookbags, or other school supplies.
Turn Shopping into a Learning Experience for Your Kids
Kids are always wanting to follow the latest trends and have the nicest, newest things. Unfortunately, those are usually the most expensive. Try turning back to school shopping into a game of education by teaching your kids about being responsible with money. Teach them that simply because an item has a brand name on it, doesn't mean it is worth spending extra money on. You could also set limits on the amount of money you will spend on them or make them work for their money by doing chores around the house. By doing this it can help them think carefully about what they really need and start to have a grasp on budgeting and thinking about money responsibly.
Try the Dollar Store
Many of the things on your lists will be small items such as pencils, pens, and notebooks that could be found at the dollar store. Shopping at the dollar store may only cost you a dollar or two for each item, so you can save a lot of money. If you don't find what you need at first, check back in a week or two, or visit another store. These stores tend to have a high volume of inventory turnover, so each time you visit you increase your chances of finding a new deal.
Compare Prices and Use Coupons
Bargain hunting can often seem like a lot of work and time consuming, but it can turn out to be very worth it. Plus, there are plenty of apps you can download that will make the process very easy. In addition to finding what stores have the best sales, try to collect coupons you can use at those stores as well. Look online and in papers for different coupons for additional savings opportunities. Around this time of the year, many of those should be geared towards back to school supplies.
Getting your kids what they need for the upcoming school year doesn't have to be a stressful experience. With a little planning and shopping wisdom, you may be able to purchase everything you need for even cheaper than you thought! Try out these tips this year to keep your kids happy without making your wallet sad.