Back to school time can often be exciting for kids, but it can sometimes be stressful for parents. According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit organization Junior Achievement USA, 60% of parents say it's challenging to afford back-to-school supplies. Today, depending on where you live, parents are being asked to contribute more of the supplies that schools used to be responsible for providing. For example, many districts ask parents to help with scissors, paper, crayons, glue, facial tissue, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes. Due to budget cuts, schools simply don't have the money for these basic supplies.
Here are a few ways to save on supplies this school year.
Believe it or not, you might already have plenty of school supplies lying around your house. Closets, desk drawers, and basement bins could hold hidden treasures that can save you money. Next, go through your kids' closets and start sorting. You may find half of everything you need, which will undoubtedly save you money.
2) Swap with friends and family:
Coordinate with your friends and neighbors and host a "supply swap" before you head out shopping.
For instance, you might have a lot of loose-leaf paper that you bought on sale, but you'll never use it all. Meanwhile, your friend might have several packs of pencils she'd be willing to trade for some of that paper. Talk to friends and family who have school-aged children and see if they have extra supplies they'd be interested in trading.
3. Shop at Garage Sales & Thrift Stores:
The best time to do this is Saturday morning. Garage sales can be a treasure trove of deals for back-to-school supplies. You can find backpacks, gently used shoes, clothing, and even school supplies there.
You can also find bargains at thrift stores too. Surprisingly clothing can be excellent and is affordable. Some stores run sales specifically for parents shopping for back-to-school items. However, start early; the selection will be picked over by the first day of school.
4. The Dollar Store
You can get some incredible bargains on school supplies at the dollar store. You'll find basic supplies like notebooks and pencils, as well as classroom supplies like Kleenex and sanitizer, all at bargain prices.
5. Follow Stores on Twitter & Facebook
Many companies send their loyal followers coupon links and advance notice of sales. If you plan to bargain-hunt this year, monitor your favorite stores' Twitter and Facebook feeds to find deals.
You can follow these stores on Twitter, for example:
Amazon Deals: @amazondeals
Office Max: @OfficeMax
TJ Maxx: @tjmaxx
Best Buy: @BestBuy
Lastly, it's okay to say no. Going back-to-school shopping with your kids can be a fun bonding experience. It can also add hundreds of dollars to your shopping bill if you cave to their requests for expensive sneakers and electronics.
Also, consider buying your kids just what they might need on their very first day and, while they're in school, hit the stores to knock out the rest of the list by yourself. Not only will this be more relaxing; you'll likely save more money too.
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