While it feels like Summer Break has just begun, it only takes a trip to your nearest retailer to see that the beginning of the school year is upon us, and with it comes school supply shopping.
Below are some ideas to get your little guy or gal off and running for the books without breaking the bank.
Do a Supply Sweep at Home
Check those backpacks – chances are you’ll find unused or barely used school supplies from last year. Many of the items they did use (binders and plastic folders, for example) can be easily reused again this year. Plus, there’s a good chance there are gently used pens, pencils and such in those pencil bags from last year too!
In addition, go through dresser drawers and closets to check out last year’s clothing. Donate outgrown clothing to a charitable organization and don’t forget your tax credit slip.
Stick to the List
Don’t be an impulse shopper! Before you hit the stores, make a list of all the school supplies, including clothing, and extracurricular activity needs.
Once you have your master list compiled, do some realistic budgeting based on what you can afford. This will help you make a plan of action on how to get all the items you need within your budget.
Swap it Out
You may find that you can swap your kids’ outgrown clothes for other gently used items that will work great for this year.
If you’re game, host a swap with other parents with kids the same age group as yours and get some new-to-you duds, toys, books, and maybe a few weekday recipes while you’re at it.
Spread Out the Purchases
Instead of shopping for all your kids’ school supplies at once, save money at the same time by spreading out the purchases over a few weeks. Check the sales listings and grab bargains from the grocery store, drug store or big box stores when you’re there buying other items.
Split Bulk Deals
While you may be able to score some savings buying some school supplies in bulk, unless you have several kids in school at the same time, the chances of you using the ream of notebook paper or bargain box of red pens is pretty slim. Consider splitting up the bulk purchases with other parents. Use person-to-person payment platforms like Zelle, Venmo and Paypal to split the purchases, or if you have a credit card that gives you points, offer to charge it and then use their reimbursements to pay off the card while earning freebies for the future.
Focus on Deals for Big Ticket Items
If your child needs a new computer, calculator, cell phone or back pack for the upcoming school year, now is the time to start trolling the Internet and sale flyers! By cashing in on big savings with these items, you can apply those savings to other items on your list.
Follow Your Favorite Stores
Don’t forget to follow your favorite stores on social media for special coupons and discount codes that these retailers only share with their social media fans. Combine these codes and coupons with sales and save even more!
Pack Your Lunch
Invest in reusable lunch boxes, storage/sandwich bags and storage containers for your kids’ lunches this school year. Not only will you save money on the disposables that you’ll typically use once and throw away, you’ll also help keep trash out of the landfill.
Take a little time to check out the grocery store sale flyers and plan lunches accordingly. Use the sale items to inspire your kids’ lunches for the week.
Leftovers are always a great way to save a few lunch dollars. Do your kids love your meatloaf so much they want to marry it? Great ‘cause they’re going to love it at lunch time too.
Get Your Kids Involved
Use back to school shopping as an opportunity to teach your kids about budgeting. Your teenager may reeeeeeaally want the leopard cowgirl boots, but she also might reeeaally want to eat later too.
For older kids, give them a clothing budget and a list of essential items, and then let them decide how to spend their money. Also take this opportunity to discuss the cost of activities with your kids. If they want to sign up for soccer, for example, take a moment to add up the costs of equipment, fees to participate and travel to and from practices and games with them. They’ll realize that there is a monetary cost as well as a time commitment for their activities, making them more likely to stick with their chosen activity and appreciate your efforts to get them there.
As always, we are here to help you with your budgeting needs! Be sure to visit us at solfcu.org to check out our checking, savings and loan options to help your family prosper this school year.