With the scorching heat and weekend beach trips, it’s hard to believe the school year is just around the corner. But the days of early morning lunch-packing and evening homework help are fast approaching, which means back-to-school shopping starts now. Between new supplies, clothes and all of the “unexpected” items that always seems to crop up, the cost can really add up for parents. There are a few steps you can take, however, to prepare for the new school year without breaking the bank.
- Check at home first. Before you start your back-to-school shopping, check your home for supplies you may already have on hand. Chances are there are some items left over from last year that were never used. Also, be sure to have your children try on their clothes so you can see what items still fit for another year. Doing this avoids purchasing excess or unnecessary items.
- Make a list and stick to it. Not only does making a list help keep you organized, it also helps you stay within your budget by avoiding impulse purchases. If your child’s school doesn’t provide a list, try contacting their teacher so you know what items they’ll actually be using in the coming year.
- Follow your favorite stores on social media. They will likely be promoting their back to school sales on their Twitter or Facebook pages and may even offer exclusive deals to their followers.
- Shop around. Don’t just stick to traditional school supply stores; check out supermarkets, craft stores and dollar stores as well. Although you may not find popular name brands, their weekly circulars offer great deals on those necessary items like pencils and notebooks. And when it comes to clothing, try stores like T.J. Maxx or Marshalls that carry designer names for less.
- Think about next year. Once the school year is in full swing, supplies typically go on sale. Use this opportunity to pick up items you know your child will need for the next school year like notebooks, index cards and writing utensils.
Don’t forget, back-to-school shopping is the perfect opportunity to teach your child about financial literacy. Include them throughout the process, from making the supply list to budgeting to price comparisons. This will help them learn the importance of being financially responsible and demonstrate that it’s never too early to begin saving.