I have fond memories of this time of year...to me, the end of August-first part of September back-to-school days have more of a New Year feeling than the Dec. 31 into January part of the calendar. The freshness of a new Trapper Keeper (anyone remember those?), the smell of new spiral notebooks, newly sharpened pencils with full pink erasers...sigh.
It's a little crazy to be thinking about binders and backpacks, but they are starting with the sales already, ladies. Yup, those special aisles of supplies are set up in the stores, the racks of fall clothes are stocked and ready...it is upon us.
Who's ready...or should I be asking, whose wallet is ready? They say the average family will spend $635 on back-to-school items (not counting that tablet or any technology gadget). That a lot of buckaroos. I'm definitely not going to spend that much, but we will be making some purchases. How to spend wisely and still send the kiddos off on the bus in style and with everything they need? Let's all check out these hints:
-- Make a list with your kids. Creating a list to work from is a number one budget-shopping hint, no matter if it is back-to-school shopping or your weekly grocery purchases. The key here is do it with your kids, so you are all on the same page of what you are looking for and to give them a sense of input. Get the school's list of supplies and also talk about what may be needed for projects, as well as the clothes for any afterschool activities.
-- Look over what you already have. After you have that list, figure out what you have already, what you may need more of and so on. Go through that closet with your kids and try on jeans, check how shoes are fitting.
-- Check the web. There may be really good deals on websites of popular stores and special coupon codes to make those savings even bigger. Before you head to the mall, surf around and get an idea. Make a note of what uniform cardigans are going for or what that backpack cost online. If it is cheaper than what you see in the stores, buy it when you get home online.
-- Stock up. When there are two-for-one deals or half-off savings, stock up on those things you know you will go through...think loose-leaf paper, markers, socks, underwear, those basic polo t-shirts you son dons every day or that hoodie your daughter wears over everything. Even look at juice boxes (for the lunch and to have on hand for study time) and other back-to-school items.
-- Avoid buying too many trendy items. Whether it is a peace sign backpack or that color that is SO in, it very well may not be IN in a few weeks. Stick with basics and then add some trendy pieces that are small -- a scarf, a headband, a key chain -- that can easily be switched out for less money if the trend fades or if suddenly no one is wearing them.
-- Swap, swap and trade. Those older girls down the street may have some not-so-used uniforms, you may be able to pass along a mildly used winter coat, the neighbor behind you may have a practice soccer goal that their boys don't use anymore...think about what you can swap or give or pass along and vice versa, which saves everyone money.
Have you started back-to-school shopping? What is your "game plan" when you do to protect your wallet?