Save on school supplies with these tips
Image Source: Flickr CC User Jimmie
Before you know it, summer will have melted away and kids across North Carolina will be heading back to school. Those schools on a year-round calendar recently started their academic year and those on a traditional schedule will start in August. School supplies can cost North Carolina consumers big bucks – and more if they have multiple kids. If your money is already tight, you may need some help affording what your kids need. Check out these seven tips to save money on back-to-school expenses.
#1 Don’t Overbuy
It can be tempting to load up on a year’s worth of supplies, but this may not be a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, you don’t want to buy supplies that won’t be used within the year since needs often change from grade to grade. Also, when the teacher asks for quantities of items which then go into a communal “pot” of supplies, you may be asked to send more later to make up for the kids who didn’t provide their fair share. Instead, buy a modest amount and when more is needed, then send it.
#2 Shop the Sales
School supplies can be had for super cheap if you’re willing to do the legwork. For supplies that are advertised in flyers and are available at multiple stores, bring in the ads to WalMart or Target and ask them to price match. That way you can get the cheapest deals without driving all over. Some stores will offer rock-bottom loss leaders to lure you in, hoping you’ll also buy more expensive items while there. Make the rounds of the stores and only buy the cheapest items from their ads, then move on.
#3 Hold off on Sending in Room Supplies
In addition to personal school supplies for your child, you’re often asked to contribute to communal classroom supplies like wet wipes, Kleenex, snacks, etc. Unless you can find the requested items for cheap at the moment, hold off and look for coupons, shop the sales and send in later. These items will run out during the year and will need to be replenished no matter what. Plus, after all the supplies are sent in, teachers often have gaps and will send out subsequent requests that you can then fulfill.
#4 Go Through What You Already Have
Sure it’s exciting to buy new packs of Crayons and markers but it’s also costly. If your kids have school supplies in good shape from last year, why buy new? Clean up lunch boxes and pencil containers and they often look brand-new. Go through backpacks, too, to check for highlighters, pencils, pens and leftover paper before you rush to the store. If your child complains, remind them less money spent on school supplies means more for clothes and other necessary items.
#5 Swap Around Instead of Buying New
When it comes to clothes, lunch boxes, and backpacks, why not swap with other moms that have gently used items so that you can provide your children with “new to them” belongings without having to pony up the cash to get fresh items? So long as everyone ends up with something in nice condition, this can be a great compromise, particularly if your child liked something that their pal used in a prior year. It’s a good idea to build a swap network of moms with kids of similar ages.
#6 Don’t Buy New Books
Many schools now require parents to purchase books for supplemental reading for classes. Grabbing these up at Barnes and Noble can be costly. Amazon is a much cheaper option, particularly if you shop used items. Considering the wear and tear that kids put on books, plus the likelihood they'll have to highlight passages, buying a new book makes no sense. You might also want to check with friends who have students a year or two older and ask if they kept their books so you can buy them cheaply or borrow them.
#7 Clothing can be Done Cheaper
When it comes to clothing, new is not necessary. Consignment shops and thrift shops in upscale areas can provide awesome clothing options without maxing out your plastic. Garage sales are also a good place to scour for low-cost sales. Many churches hold massive consignment sales in late summer and early fall to help parents out as well. When you do shop for new items, look for ads, coupons and promo codes, and consider shopping online sales to further expand your clothing options.
Remember that you don’t have to have everything that's requested on day one of the new school year. Plus, teachers may change what they ask for, so you may not want to purchase supplies until you get final lists from specific teachers that may deviate from the general schoolwide lists. School supplies need not be a splurge. Follow these tips and you can save a bundle!
And if, despite frugal spending, your money woes are still stressing you out and you find yourself diving ever deeper into debt, contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. We help North Carolina consumers conquer their debt. Call +1-919-646-2654 now for a free consultation at one of our locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington. Find out how you can be debt free and enjoy the financial peace of mind you deserve.