Did you know that parents will spend almost $670 to get one child ready for school this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey? (from Bankrate.com)
How can you save money on back to school purchases? Here are a few easy tips:
1 – Clean out your child’s closet first! What can be reused, repurposed, or handed down? If you’re crafty, try dyeing white t-shirts to make them look colorful and brand new. Add embellishments to plain clothing items to give it a new look! Pinterest has some great ideas. This is a great activity to do with your kids.
2 – Host a “clothing swap party” with friends! Invite 10-12 of your child’s friends over that are the same age, size, and gender. Each guest should bring 10 items that they don’t want but are still in good shape. Hang items up on a rack and let the guests shop for 10 items they want. Trying on items before you leave is wise.
3 – Set a budget for each child! It’s critical that you determine what you can afford to spend on all back to school supplies, then divide the amount up per child. Use an envelope system to keep funds separated by child. Share your child’s budget with them. This will help them practice “needs vs. wants” and to encourage them to shop for the best price on all items. You’ll be teaching your child important life lessons at a young age. Turn it into a game – have your child find a lower price by looking around in the aisles.
4 – Make a checklist and stick to it! Just like grocery shopping, if you don’t make a list and stick to it, you’ll be tempted to make extra purchases that you didn’t plan on. Share this list with your child BEFORE going shopping. This will hopefully keep them on task, too! Remember to clearly list each item: 2 pairs of jeans, 2 sweaters, 3 t-shirts, 1 pack of pens, 5 one subject notebooks, and so on.
5 – Start with required supplies first! Review the school’s list of required supplies and shop for these items FIRST! This step ensures that your child will get the critical items purchased before spending money on non-critical items.
6 – Comparison shop online! Before heading out to stores, visit each store’s website to find the BEST prices on the items you need to buy. Write the store’s name/price by each item so you don’t waste gas money running back and forth to stores. Be sure to print any online coupons and bring them with you in an envelope. If you have a smartphone, download a free app like RetailMeNot which keeps many available coupons at the ready with just a tap of your finger. Downloading retail store apps is wise, too. Extra coupons or rewards programs may be available. Not a techie? Your child may be better at technology than you are – have them help and engage them in the process!
7 – Buy in bulk! Some stores offer notebooks, pens, crayons, etc. for pennies! Stock up on what your child may need for the year and put it away in your closet. This avoids paying full price for this stuff mid-year.
** SUPER SAVER TIP FOR NEXT YEAR – When the school year ends, have your child clean out his/her locker, desk, and backpack. Put all like supplies in plastic bins and hide them away until school starts again. Have your child shop from those bins first! Half used crayons, pens and pencils are still good to go!
Most importantly, teach your children to save and budget. They will thank you someday for these critical lessons! Our New Dimensions Federal Credit Union team will be glad to help your child start his/her path to financial freedom, today. Just stop by one of our branches and ask about our fun kids’ accounts!