As the calendar creeps into August, it’s time to take advantage of back-to-school sales.
Here are 10 tips on getting the most out of a limited budget before school starts again.
1. Three-ring binders
Instead of having your kids haul half-a-dozen notebooks around, get them a hard-cover three-ring binder with a set of dividers.
Start with a certain number of pre-punched pages for each class, then add or subtract as necessary.
2. The teacher’s list
The first several Harry Potter books include a trip to Diagon Alley after the students have been told what books they’ll need for the upcoming year.
While it’s doubtful you’ll need a book that bites, it’s important to get the teacher supply list before you start shopping. Different teachers require different supplies, and sticking to the list will help you avoid impulse buys.
3. Get the basics
Pens, pencils and paper are usual basics for any student, and there’s no better time to buy then in mass quantities than back-to-school sales. If your child’s school has other materials that are regularly used, look for those, too.
4. Dollar stores
An inexpensive way to check off items on the teacher’s supply list is to hit your local dollar stores.
These places occasionally get a bad rap for selling supplies that are subpar in quality, but they are often selling the same supplies as the major retail outlets at a fraction of the cost.
5. Don’t forget the clothes
As the summer starts to fade, clothing stores often have sales on short sleeve shirts as they try to make room for their fall clothes. These can be wearable into November and as early as April, which takes care of a big chunk of the school year.
6. Stock up on snacks
Non-perishable snacks, such as fruit snacks, juice boxes, crackers, pudding cups, beef jerky and bottled water can last an entire school year. Hit your local bulk item store to take advantage of this.
You can save money by brown bagging lunches instead of giving your child money every day for them to buy the school lunch.
7. Waterproof bags
While the goal is to save money, sometimes investing in a quality item will save you money in the long run.
For example, a sturdy waterproof book bag can help prevent having to replace water-damaged textbooks. A good bag should last the entire year.
8. Buying used
Buying used books is a staple for college students – you can find books at half-price or better. Not only have they already been read, but some may have already been highlighted for you.
That doesn’t apply to grade school or high school students, but you can also buy used clothes, shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes and more.
9. Pay cash
Having to physically hand over bills makes it much clearer how much money you are actually spending. This won’t necessarily save you money, but it makes you actively notice what you’re spending on.
Withdraw a limited amount of cash and watch it dwindle to help prevent overspending.
10. Set a budget
Setting a budget for a school year can be difficult – you want your children to have the best possible, and it’s easy to stretch your budget, thinking you can handle the pinch. Try to budget by looking at each need, figuring out whether or not you can buy used, and work from there.
Try not to punish yourself to make your children look good. If you get them involved in the budgeting process, it will help them learn financial responsibility.