When you’re a parent on a budget, back to school shopping can be a prospect that fills you with dread as summer draws to a close. Those long school supply lists, not to mention the outlay on new clothing and footwear is more than many can afford. Of course you want to send your kids back to school with everything they’re going to need, but there are many ways that the savvy parent can cut costs without cutting corners or making their child the butt of the other kids’ jokes because they don’t have the latest gear.
Scout around the house before buying
Don’t hit the stores until you’re sure you don’t already have some of the items you need at home. Lots of school supplies can be reused year after year so there’s really no need to buy a new ruler or pencil case when the old ones are still in good condition. Challenge yourselves to see just how many pens you can find lying around; nearly every household has a drawer full of them, so why buy new?
Be internet savvy
There are some great opportunities to save money with group buying sites. If you haven’t already discovered the power of these sites, you really should; at this time of year back to school deals are plentiful. As some offers are only activated when they achieve a minimum number of buyers, encourage other parents to sign up for the same deals to help ensure you get what you want.
When you have to buy, buy reusable goods
So you’ve searched right to the back of your store cupboards but there are some essentials that you haven’t been able to lay your hands on. When there’s no alternative to buying new, make sure that the items you purchase are reusable and recyclable. Investing in a reusable water bottle or sandwich box will save you money in the long term compared to buying disposable cartons, cans or zip lock bags. Making responsible choices about your back to school shopping will also give your kids a valuable lesson on looking after the environment.
Don’t give in to pester power
When you go to the store, your kids are sure to be tempted by all the colourful and shiny items on sale, most of which will be totally unnecessary! If you can avoid taking the kids with you, so much the better; if not, set some ground rules before you go. For example, anything they want that’s not on their supply list, they pay for from their pocket money. This way you keep your costs down and help teach them the value of money.
Quality and value are key
Think about the durability of the stuff you’re buying; it’s going to have to take some hard knocks. If it’s cheap but likely to break you’ll only have to replace it, which will mean more expense in the long run. Items like backpacks should last for years so look for lifetime warranties; a small additional cost now may be the most economical choice in the end.
Sending them back to school well equipped and happy doesn’t have to involve spending huge amounts of cash, so get creative and see what other money-saving ideas you can come up with.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Sascha Erni, .rb