It’s that beloved time of year again, where we send our kids back to school. You know what that means – shopping. It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? I can’t wait to get back into my normal routine, but a quiet house can come at a pretty high price if I don’t watch myself. It’s something all parents go through, but that doesn’t mean we have to blow our budgets because we think there’s no other way! Here are some tips to get your kids prepped for school without going bankrupt.
Shop At Home First
Before checking local ads or your favorite store’s social media accounts, you need to figure out what you need to buy, and what you already have in the comfort of your own home! Get all the checklists online, or ask your kids for them and you’re set to get started. After you figure out what your kiddos need, it’s time to start looking around the house for what you might have. After all, there’s no better price than free! Look around for common items such as rulers, notebook paper, pencils, and pens. Make sure to stock these items in one place that’s easy to find. Designate a shelf or a box, especially if you have a surplus of items. This is a must! If additional supplies are needed in a few months, you’ll know right where to find them.
Remember a List
School and office supply aisles look like a toy store these days, for kids and parents alike. Unfortunately, kids minds race and immediately want one of everything and this can be extremely difficult to deal with when you have a whole list of things that need to be bought. Make sure to create a list of things that you need to purchase, and stick to that list! You explain why you can’t all the expensive stuff, and show them there are limits to spending. Be sure to decide how much you want to spend in total, and if your kiddos are begging for that one Frozen backpack, explain there’s a trade-off when it comes to other items. It’s never too early to introduce financial responsibility!
Splurge When Necessary
Cheap pens that leak everywhere create a larger cost than a more expensive brand. There’s nothing worse than an expensive shirt splattered with pen ink that becomes a crafting t-shirt. When buying backpacks, common problems such as straps or zippers breaking, or even seams ripping, can become expensive quickly. It might be a better investment to spend a little more initially, then have to buy 3 backpacks for $10 throughout the year. However, warranties are usually included in higher price tags. Even if something breaks, you should be able to get it replaced at a low cost or even free! When buying electronic items such as calculators, it’s also best to buy a higher-end or more advanced than what a supply list suggests. This way, the calculator can last a few years when classes increase in difficulty and additional functions are needed.
It can absolutely be overwhelming carting around kids to shop, while also keeping them calm and well-behaved. It can also be frustrating to have them pick out every little detail, down to the color of their folders. Luckily, there is an easier method. We shop online for everything these days – clothes, home decor, even dog food! So why not shop for the school year in the comfort of your own home? Start by signing up for your favorite department stores and office retailers. You’ll receive an email as soon as a sales go live, and you don’t have to fight the traffic in aisles and the disappointment when there’s barely anything on the shelves. The amazing thing about e-mail is that they come straight to you, so you don’t have to constantly check in-store or online to see if there’s an active sale.
“The best time to buy discount school supplies is July and August,” says Aly Bern, who teaches second grade. She checks the flyers from all the big box chains, as well Michael’s and smarter niche stores. She also notes that some stores offer sales in the latter half of September—to get rid of their overstock, so that’s a good time to look too, if you can wait on certain items. Check out our guide to the best time to buy almost anything.
Use Cash, Not Cards
There’s nothing quite like the convenience of credit and even debit cards, and it’s usually first instinct when making purchases. But there’s no shame in using cold hold cash when shopping for a bunch of items, especially on a budget! When you’re spending on a budget, it’s hard to really visualize how much money you’re spending. When you just swipe your card, instead of using cash, it’s hard to see how much you’re really spending. However, when using cash, it allows you to hold yourself accountable for what you’re actually purchasing. If you really love plastic, try getting a store card that’s linked to your debit account. You’ll earn rewards, but you’ll also be spending money you actually have. Sometimes that allows us to be more strict on high-dollar items!
Even if it’s still summer, it’s time to start organizing lists for school supplies and new clothes, and just about everything in between. Not only is back to school shopping a summer marketing strategy for retailers, school supply lists seem to get longer and longer every year. It can be tough to get everything you need at a price that doesn’t make you cringe. Try these shopping tips for this back to school season to save money, time and most importantly your sanity when stocking up on everything your kiddos need for the 2017 school year! What are some of your favorite back to school shopping strategies? Leave your comments below!