While the start of the school year may be over a month away, it’s a good idea to plan ahead when it comes to school shopping. The cost to go “back to school” keeps increasing. Over the past few years, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that the average American family would spend more than $600 on back to school supplies. That’s only for an average student while college-age students, who often require many more supplies, especially if they’re moving into a dorm, may spend even more. There are a few ways to limit the amount you need to spend on supplies for the school year.
Believe it or not, you might already have plenty of school supplies lying around your house. Closets, desk drawers, and basement bins might hold hidden treasures that can save you money. Start by rounding up all of the office and school supplies you already own. Put them in a central location so you can make a list of what you have. Keep this list in your purse, or in the car, so you don’t forget it when you shop for school supplies.
Garage sales can be a treasure trove of deals for back to school supplies. Backpacks, gently used shoes, clothing, and even school supplies can be picked up for a song. Start hitting up garage sales for everything you need. It takes time, but you can score some incredible bargains this way. You can also ask friends and family members to keep an eye out for you, while they shop at garage sales.
As your kids grow older, they will insist on having the “latest and greatest.” They may request Jonas Brother’s binders and backpacks, and name-brand clothing from the mall. Although your kids crave these items, these “character-focused” products will quickly destroy your back to school budget. In addition, these items often aren’t made to last. Many trendy clothing items are very cheaply made. So, set limits with your kids, and speak with them about money-based values. Let your children know that companies should be paying them for advertising their products by wearing name-brand clothing. Show them the difference between a cheaply made trendy item of clothing, and a well-made item without a logo, and explain the difference in quality.
If you have a child heading to college, then you will experience some serious sticker shock. From picking up supplies for their dorm room, to investing in college textbooks, sending a kid to college isn’t for the faint of heart. There are many ways to save money on back to school shopping for your college student. First, learn how to save money on college textbooks. Buy used textbooks on sites like Amazon, eBay, and Half.com. You can also compare prices on new books on CheapestTextbooks.com, or buy books on bargain sites like Textbookx.com. Additionally, you can save 50% or more on textbooks if you buy a digital copy and download it to your Kindle, or other e-reader. View textbooks available for digital download at CourseSmart.com or Cafescribe.com. And at the end of the semester, find websites where you can sell used textbooks for cash.
When the time comes to start shopping for school supplies, make sure to keep some of these tips in mind to help save money. It’s the little things that will add up to increase your savings and keep you and your bank account happy! Stay Wise! (References: MoneyCrashers.com)