Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back To School Doesn't Have To Break the Bank

It’s that time of year again, back to school time. Not only do you have to frantically relearn the morning routine with your kids (wake up, shower, eat, pack, run, bus stop, school—new record of 33 minutes and 27 seconds, well done, Mom!), but you also have to battle crowds to find a long list of expensive and often obscure school supplies…like three-sided pencils for example.

Finding the right school supplies can be challenging by itself, but you also need to be able to purchase these items without breaking the bank. Let’s face it, most kids just toss their school supplies at the end of the school year anyway. So that gives you two options: 1) you brave the crowds on tax-free weekend, and elbow your way through a school supply section that looks like it’s been torn apart by a tornado, or 2) you pay out the nose for new school supplies. Neither option sounds very appealing, but are there any other alternatives? Well, yes, in fact there are.

Most stores will offer massive discounts on their school supplies a few weeks after school starts, and that’s the time to buy. So instead of buying all new supplies for your child before school starts, find out what can be reused for a couple of weeks—perhaps an old note book, last year’s markers and colored pencils, or maybe an old protractor. Then keep an eye out for sales. Some start in the middle of the week, and others begin on the weekends, but by bargain hunting you can find some great deals on school supplies. You can also buy in bulk, and split it with other parents, or save it for future school years. Another option is to shop where you wouldn’t normally expect to find school supplies.

For example, you might find a good deal on back packs at Eddie Bauer, or a two for one deal at Toys R Us. Keep in mind that your kids will probably pressure you for the coolest looking folder or backpack, but that you’ll find much better prices if you go with generic rather than Transformers. Back to school shopping doesn’t have to be a complete disaster for your bank account.

Just remember to keep things in perspective. While your daughter may be upset today because she didn’t get the Hanna Montana pencil case, in the press of the back-to-school frenzy, she won’t be upset for long. Teaching her to shop smart will benefit her more in the long run anyway. Best of luck setting new morning routine records, and in your bargain hunting!

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