Although it seems like it went by too fast, summer will soon come to an end and the kids will be heading into the classroom: back-to-school season is here! Getting their gear ready for their first weeks back in class is exciting for the little ones, but it doesn’t have to put a hole in your wallet. We’ve got tips to help you save!
Wait for the official supply list. Most schools send out a detailed list of the supplies that will be needed for the upcoming school year, depending on the grade and teacher’s preferences. Usually, you’ll receive it in the mail, or your child will obtain it on the first day of school. Waiting to see exactly what will be needed is a great way to avoid overbuying or spending on items that are not essential.
Establish a master list for each child. Sit down (alone or with each of your kids), and establish a list of what they’ll be needing; include not only school supplies, but also think clothing, shoes, and any equipment for sports or extra-curricular activities. Make it clear that you’ll only be acquiring what’s on the list; sticking to is a good way to ensure you remain within your back-to-school budget.
Organize a school gear swap. Before you actually go shopping to purchase everything your child will need, organize a school gear swap with fellow moms, much in the way you would put together a clothing swap. You can choose to get the kids involved or not—go about it the way that seems simplest to you. But one thing is sure: you’re bound to find some treasures that will save you a penny or two (or more!), and everyone comes out a winner!
Get coupon- and flyer-savvy. Once you’re ready to start shopping for the stuff that you absolutely must buy, start by checking local flyers for special deals and coupons on items you know you’ll need. If there are certain things you will need throughout the year (pens and printer paper, for example), now’s the time to stock up!
Wait ‘til after the first week of school. How many times have you bought your child something, only to have to buy a different variety of the same item just because he saw another kid with a nicer / better / cooler one? If your child is likely to want the latest backpack, pencil case, or lunch box, wait a few days so that he can scope out the options and decide exactly what he wants. This way, you’ll get it right the first time.
Start shopping online. The internet is a great resource for getting stuff at a lower price. Whether it’s for shoes, a backpack, stationery or sports equipment, you can find a lot of new and used goods on sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Kijiji, for a fraction of what they would cost in a store.