The Frugal Way Back To School
Exhausted parents across the country may be looking forward to back-to-school day, but it can get pretty expensive, depending on how many kids you need to buy for during this season! Be sure you don’t miss our Back To School Giveaway, to help the winner with some back to school supplies, but don’t worry if you don’t win, there are plenty of other ways you can send the little ones off without breaking the bank.
Tips & Tricks
It’s a rare parent who manages to survive the new term without having to splurge on something the kids simply must have (Frozen, Minecraft, LEGO supplies, etc). All the kids seem to want at least a few if their supplies to be adorned with whatever “Theme” products are popular at the time. There are some simple ways to save money. Start watching the sales early in the summer. Basic supplies go on sale, many for under $1, and you can stock up for the year during those sales. Our town has a facebook group for parents in the district where we share information on school supplies sales, and clothing sales at local retailers. One parent noted that she starts budgeting for the next year on the first day of school. She takes the amount she paid out for the current year, adds about $25-50 to the total, and then divides that by the number of pay periods she has until the next school year. She sets her budgeted amount aside each pay period in a savings account. She’ll do a few odd jobs to make a few extra cents, take paid surveys, and try to find ways to earn while you’re enjoying herself, such as by playing the online slots after the kids have gone to bed, though there are easier ways! If the school year is coming up and she finds she needs more to meet her budget, or the amount is higher than she estimated, she’ll have a yard sale or sell some things on Craigslist/Ebay/Local Forum to come up with the extra funds, so she doesn’t have to take funds from another budgeted category. I love this idea, and with three kids of my own, can’t wait to apply this concept myself.
There’s simply no need to buy a whole new wardrobe for the new year, particularly if you’re only doing it because you think everyone else is (they’re not)! Assuming your children haven’t grown several inches during the summer, just add sweatshirts and tights to their warm-weather clothes. If they have shot up, add new items from the clearance sales, where summer clothing will be heavily reduced. There’s just no need to purchase a bulky winter wardrobe at the start of the school year. Kids hit growth spurts, and we can’t predict when they’ll happen! I make sure my kids start the year off with 7-8 solid outfits that can be mixed & matched, and pick up a few other items here and there as they go on sale in larger sizes. When they hit a growth spurt, we’ll have at least a few items on hand, so they don’t go to school in pants that are suddenly a few inches too short.
Tax Holidays & Coupons
Look out for sales tax holidays. Alabama, for example, has an allowance of $100 on clothing and $50 on school supplies from 1st – 3rd August this year. Maryland offers a full week of tax relief on clothing from 10th August; check the link for other state tax holidays. Here in NH, we are fortunate that we don’t have a sales tax. I know that friends in other states have said the stores were PACKED on Sales Tax Holidays in their areas, so prioritize and plan ahead of time.
Some retailers, including Target, offer apps that’ll give you coupons that aren’t available elsewhere. You’ll usually find that the exclusive coupons can be used with existing ones, leading to a double discount. Kmart and Sears also have similar schemes. I LOVE using apps to save money. We share ideas on this in several of my facebook groups, and I have a post planned soon, where I’ll share my favorite money saving apps with you.
Secondhand & Hand-Me-Downs
Don’t neglect thrift shops and secondhand stores. Not everything they sell is worn out, I’ve found brand new clothes with the tags still on at my local Goodwill! You’ll often find at least one or two pieces that are as good as new, and the savings can be seriously helpful. You might also enjoy the environmentally-friendly recycling aspect of it. It’s also worth looking at online consignment stores like ThredUp.com for lightly-used clothing.
Finally, don’t forget your network of friends and family members with slightly older kids. How about those cousins with outgrown sports and other clothing? Try starting your own school equipment exchange network by passing on stuff that your children don’t need any more. Remember, that goes for pens, calculators, even computers – not just clothes! It takes a village 🙂
(Image courtesy of Geralt / Pixabay.com)