By: Tori Harris
The first day of school is right around the corner … like pretty much next week. Before that first day, there’s a lot of preparation and costly back-to-school shopping that needs to be done. Here are six tips to help you avoid running your pockets dry with all the clothes and school supplies shopping you’ll be doing.
Tax-free weekend began on August 2nd and it ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, August 6th, so take advantage! There’s no getting around the fact that it will be a hectic shopping venture. Everyone and their children will be out, crowding the stores trying to cross items off their school supplies lists. Remember that there are plenty of supplies to go around, so try not to stress and try not to buy more than you’ll use, unless you plan on donating school supplies to those in need. In that case, be as greedy as you want.
You’d be surprised by all the new-with-tags items you can find at your local thrift stores, and I’m not only talking about clothes. There’s a whole section at Goodwill where you can find office supplies or craft supplies that are in excellent condition. You can find unused binders, markers, staplers and even loose-leaf paper. I frequent thrift stores more than the average shopper and am always surprised by the things people give away. But you know what they say: “One person’s trash is another person’s first day of school outfit.” I think that’s how it goes.
When you consider how much you’ll end up spending on a brand-new outfit and how quickly that outfit will get worn out, is it really worth buying at full price? If you’re one of those people who are weirded out by buying used clothes, keep in mind that a lot of Goodwill locations receive items that are brand new with tags from stores like Target, which usually consist of clearance items they can’t sell. So, you can save money on brand new, on-trend clothing items.
Save money by meal prepping, not only for your kids but for yourself too! Though this may take a little effort at the beginning of each week, it will pay off in the long run. Sending your child to school with lunch money every day can add up quickly. Instead, try to set aside one night a week to cook food that will last throughout the school/work week.
One good idea for breakfast meal prep is to make a scramble. Add eggs, sausage, potatoes and any vegetables you want, and you can even save it for long periods by freezing it. Some other ideas for lasting meals are breakfast quiches, fruit and yogurt parfaits, chicken, rice, chopped vegetables, the list goes on. Google keywords: easy, meal prep, healthy.
You can make meal prepping into a skill-building activity and bonding experience with your child. On top of those perks, you’ll feel good that you’re saving money and that you and your family are eating healthy.
You know what they say: “Quality over 3D-LED-light-up dinosaur backpacks.” That sounds right.
Yeah, if you buy the flashy backpack you’ll be the coolest parent in the world that week, but the following week, you’ll be on the Internet searching, “how to replace lights on 3D-LED-light-up dinosaur backpack.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying an item or two that will get your child excited for school, but if it’s an item that needs to endure the entire school year, it’s better to shop for quality. This goes for supplies like pencils and crayons too. You know those crayons that restaurants hand out with coloring books, the ones that snap in half as soon as you touch them to a hard surface? Sometimes it’s more practical to spend a little extra on a product if it means it will last longer.
Look for promotions, look for coupons, mail in rebates and buy in bulk if it makes sense. Before you start shopping, download a price-comparison app that will find the best deal for you and then shop at stores that price match. This is a great tool for all back-to-school items, but it’s especially great for those more expensive items, like graphing calculators. For those items, it might even be a good idea to look on a resale website like eBay, you know, since most of us only used our graphing calculators for one or two semesters and then never picked them up again. Just make sure you stick to the same calculator model on the list if the teacher requires a specific model.
There’s always the option of online shopping, for those of us who dread the thought of going out in public only to weave around overly-anxious crowds of people who are all shopping for the same items. Does anyone actually enjoy that? Maybe someone who’s training to be on a revamped version of the Supermarket Sweep game show. Anyway, we’re lucky enough to have access to a countless number of stores and we don’t even have to leave our beds to shop. Thanks to websites like Amazon, you can have an entire order of school supplies shipped to you in a day if you’re willing to spend a little extra on expedited shipping. Another perk to shopping online is that you can search for promo codes right when you’re about to check out.
If you have any other tips that will make the back-to-school shopping experience a little better for fellow shoppers, share them in the comments below! You know what they say: “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘back-to-school stress’.” Right?
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.