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5 Ways to Save on Back-To-School Supplies
The cost of sending your kids back to school keeps increasing. The average American family spends more than $700 on back to school supplies. And that’s only for an average student; college students often require many more supplies, especially if they’re moving into a dorm.
Many parents begin searching the back to school ads in August. Whether your kids are starting kindergarten or heading off to college this year, you can buy them everything they need without breaking the bank. Here are a few tips to help you become a savvy back to school shopper.
- Make A List. Have you ever noticed that when you head off to the grocery store without a list you end up spending more than you anticipated? The same is true for back-to-school shopping. So start by making a list of each and every item your child will need. Everything from backpacks to paper clips should be on it. Start the list early, at least a week or more before you plan to shop. This will give you plenty of time to think of things you may have forgotten.
- Set A Budget. Know how much you want to spend in advance. Having a budget will help keep you from overspending. Share that budget with your kids so they know how much they can spend for everything. Get them involved in shopping and saving for their supplies. Offer them a small reward for keeping on budget, like a special activity or treat.
- Shop Your Own Closet First. We have all experienced that frustration of going shopping and coming home will all our purchases only to discover that we already had something we needed and we didn’t have to buy it again. Take some time to look around and see what you already have and don’t need to purchase. This is another great reason to make your list early. Go through your desk drawers, closets and last year’s backpacks. If you have an abundance of pencils, for instance, you can cross them off your list.
- Shop Around. Don’t buy everything at one store. Stores will often offer discounts on certain items to get you in, then markup other items knowing that you’ll need to buy those too. Instead, take some time to shop the local sale ads and make a plan for where you can purchase each item for the best price. Then, divide your list by store so you know exactly what you need to buy and where to get it.
- Shop on Tax-Free Days. Many state and county governments offer tax free shopping days for back to school supplies. You may not think the sales tax adds up to much, but with all you need to purchase, it can add up to enough to cover extra supplies. Most areas offer these tax-free days over a weekend, allowing you enough time to get to all the stores you need to. Do a little research or check local papers or government sites to find out when these days are in your area.