Smart back-to-school shopping tips
Aug 24, 2013 / 5:00 am
Start your back-to-school shopping with a game plan. Even if your child’s teacher hasn’t provided a list of school supplies, you can’t go wrong by sticking with the basics and taking advantage of back-to school sales. Here’s how:
Make a list and get your child involved
Use the recommended or required supplies from your child’s school or teacher as a starting point. If you don’t have a list yet, check with parents at your school who have older kids. They might have good advice about what is required in your child’s grade. Sit down with your child and go over your list together. You’ll be teaching your child how to get organized, a skill that applies to more than shopping.
Separate wants from needs
Most school supplies don’t go out of style and your child will happily use the unsharpened pencils his older sibling didn’t use. But as any parent with last year’s superhero notebook knows, beware the power of trends. Rather than getting into an argument with your older child about whether a backpack with headphones is essential because “everybody is getting one”, try setting a budget for supplies. It will help your child set priorities, learn how to manage money, and start saving his allowance for the items your budget won’t allow.
Sort through last year’s supplies to see what is left over or can be reused. (Having trouble finding last year’s stuff? Resolve to set up a place to keep your school supplies together this year.) Start early and look for bargains throughout the summer. The best bargains are often available at back-to-school sales. Keeping your supply list in your car or purse or on your PDA will help you shop for supplies as you do your other errands.
Buy basics in bulk
You know you’ll need paper, pencils, glue stick and notebooks. Dollar stores, warehouse stores and even eBay are sources for buying these and other basics in bulk. You and a group of other parents might be able to negotiate a group discount from an office supply store. Then set up a supply shelf or storage container in your home that you can use all year long. You’ll be able to avoid late-night shopping trips to buy notebook paper when you run out. And you’ll know where to find unused notebooks and pencils when it comes time to shop for back-to-school supplies next year.
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