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Tips for Saving on Back To School Shopping

Getting your child back into the classroom can be expensive… if you let it be. The following tips will help you to avoid going overboard this year in terms of back to school shopping.

Start with a plan. The key to any shopping expedition is to start with a plan and stick to it. Involve your child and set a budget on how much you can spend. Be flexible within the budget, so long as you stick to it. Let your child spend a little more on an item or two (even if you don’t particularly like said items), with the knowledge that this will leave less money for other items they may want. You’re not only saving money, but teaching your child a valuable lesson on the give and take of budgeting.

Better yet, start at the end. Of the school year, that is. Your best bet to save on school supplies is to buy them early… the earlier the better. Make up a list and keep an eye open for bargains throughout the summer. Keep your list handy – in the car, in a purse – so it’s always on hand.

What’s on hand? Before you head out to spend a ton of cash, take a look around the house to see what you already have. You can greatly expedite this process by setting everything aside that’s left over from last year. On the last day of school, pick a shelf or a box in the closet, a drawer, and put all the pencils, notebooks, rulers, etc. left over from that year in it. As you prepare for the new school year, go through it and cross whatever you can off your list. While things like pens and scissors are good to go as is, many items such as folders and notebooks can be “reimagined” using photos, stickers, etc. that your child can use to decorate them as he/she sees fit.

The teacher’s list. Many schools send home a list at the end of the school year (or mail them out during the summer) from your child’s next-year teacher that outlines what will be needed in the year to come. Use this list as a guide for what you’ll need, supply-wise, and don’t worry about shopping beyond it. Teacher knows best when it comes to school supplies.

Helping your school while you shop. Does your school participate in a program such as eScrip or OneCause? These programs donate a percentage of what you spend at specific merchants back to your school. All things being equal, helping out your school through your back to school shopping is a good thing. Contact your school to see if they work with such a program and to get a list of participating merchants.

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