As the sands of summer slip away, back-to-school season looms just ahead. And that means it’s time to start shifting into shopping mode.
If the kids aren’t already bugging you for new clothes and backpacks and other school stuff, they will soon. The age-old question is – will you be prepared this time?
If you answered “yes,” then you get an “A.” If you hesitated, you obviously have some homework to do.
But don’t lose hope. Here are some “assignments” that can help ease the anxiety of back-to-school shopping:
Hold a “family meeting” to discuss what the kids need. Just be prepared to explain to your youngsters the difference between needs and wants and where you’re willing to compromise. Sometimes writing down what’s needed and what’s wanted provides a clearer picture when it comes time to making purchases.
With your list in hand, create a budget. You can then use it in two ways – as a guideline, or as spending plan that you intend to strictly stick to.
Take an inventory of what’s left over from the previous school year. Are the kids willing to re-use lunchboxes and backpacks? Are their school clothes still in good shape and do they fit? Are there pens and pencils and other supplies tucked away in a box somewhere? Just remember that the more you find, the less you’ll need to spend.
Search around for bargains, either online or the old-fashioned way of going into brick-and-mortar stores. While you’re at it, look for coupons. There are loads of them out there and they could save you big bucks depending on what you buy.
Don’t wait too long to start shopping. “The early bird gets the worm” appropriately applies here. Get to the deals before the other guy does; otherwise you could end up spending more than you really intended.
Buy generic instead of brand name if at all possible. The savings could be as much as 50 percent or, if you’re lucky, even more.
Round up family and friends and buy items in bulk. This is a great way to cut costs on such things as notepads and pens.
Keep all your receipts. There’s always a chance you’ll have to return something and it’s a lot easier to do if you have receipt in hand. And familiarize yourself with the refund policies of stores and websites where you make purchases.