Back to school time can bring a sort of panic into the heart of parents. The list of needs and wants is seemingly endless. And for those who are on a budget, this list can potentially throw-off the month's finances.
Here are some tips to help you get your little students ready for the year without breaking the bank.
1. Buy School Supplies Early: It's hard to think of the hallowed halls of the school house when the sun is shining, but the truly fugal will realize that its important to buy a little here and there. Buy crayons, notebooks and safety scissors throughout the summer. If you see a sale, buy these items and store them away for September. Avoid buying markers and glue sticks until just prior to the first day of school.
2. Buy Some Clothing Items Early (but not all): Take advantage of clearance sales to help supply your little ones with back to school clothes. It's best to buy at the end of each season. Buy athletic wear such as gym clothing which typically is on sale at the end of the spring season. These items typically have elastic waistbands and will still fit the little ones even if they experience a growth spurt. Don't buy athletic shoes or pants, as they may not fit by the time September rolls around.
4. Ask for hand-me-downs: If you know of a friend who has a child a size or two ahead of yours, ask for their hand-me-downs. You may offer to pay for them too, but you are likely to get a better deal from a friend than from a store. Ask to pay for clothes that would not sell at a consignment store because they have a slight imperfection or because it is out of season. Even though these items may not sell at a consignment store (tags removed or whatever reason), many still have a long life left in them. You will be doing your friend a favor by offering them money for items they would otherwise have to discard. Many of these items will be usable as school clothes, but some will only be play clothes worthy. Even worn-out tank tops and t-shirts can be used under other items and pants with frayed cuffs can be hemmed.
5. Shop Sales: Keep a close eye on back to school sales. You can often find crayon boxes for .25 and glue sticks for .10. Combine coupons and sales for the best deals. Consider buying an extra box of crayons for next year.
6. Shop Consignment Stores: Check consignment stores often for items on your need and want list. Clothing items, backpacks and some school supplies are available at consignment stores.
7. Buy A Little At a Time: You don't everything for the first day of school. Buy the essential school supplies, reuse items from last year at first and make sure that the kids have at least one new item (such as shirt) to go to school in. Buy the rest of the supplies and clothing over the course of the first few weeks of school.
Follow these tips and you'll be saving a bundle on back to school items.