The start of the school year is an exciting time for parents and children. However, back-to-school shopping for school clothes and supplies can be very costly and stressful for any family. Check out our tips and learn how to keep costs and stress levels down.
Before heading to the stores, check out what you already have at home. Sort through your child’s closets and find any clothing that still fits and is in good condition. Start a pile for clothes that can still be worn during the upcoming school year. A sturdy backpack could also be cleaned and reused. Leftover supplies from last year and clothing handed down from older children can also be saved.
Set a budget and make a list. Decide how much you have to spend and stick to your budget. Make a list of items that your child needs, and determine whether some can be purchased later. With older children such as tweens and teens this can be an opportunity to prioritize items they need versus the ones they want. If possible, allow your child to add a few items to the list he wants. Bringing this list with you when you shop will help reduce impulse buying.
Shop the sales and check for deals. Back-to-school sales start in late July and early August, so check your local newspapers and store websites for the best deals in your area. Also, many stores will match their competitors’ prices, so bring the sale advertisements with you on your shopping trip. For electronics such as computers, smartphones, and laptops, consider your upgrade options before purchasing something brand new. Some companies even offer credit for used electronics, so make sure to check store websites or ask about any trade-in credit options before you buy.
Choose a less expensive brand. Many schools provide a list of required school supplies. However, you can opt for less-expensive brands for items like pencils, folders, paper, and other supplies. Brand name clothing can quickly increase the total bill, so decide whether each item of clothing is worth the cost before purchasing. For example, a nice jacket may be worth the additional cost because your child will use it frequently, while t-shirts and tank tops may be similar in quality regardless of the brand name. The money saved by choosing store brands can be used to buy some of the items your child has identified as “wants.”
Consider other options that are free or low-cost. Host a neighborhood clothing swap to find some articles, and look for bookcases, desks, and other supplies on free websites. You can find great deals on quality items at local consignment shops, where they may also give credit for gently-used clothing that you don’t need any more. Finally, many community agencies such as churches, senior centers, and food pantries often host school supply drives in the summer. If money is a concern this school year, don’t hesitate to use these community resources.